Is tapping really necessary? Here’s the deal with EFT tapping.

EFT tapping points

I have used EFT and other meridian tapping therapies both for myself and with many clients in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr. I have seen issues―even really tough ones―clear up quickly, almost magically. These results intrigued me, and prompted me to do some research about the field of Energy Psychology; you can read some of it here. People sometimes wonder if tapping meridian points is really a necessary ingredient to EFT’s success. One particularly bright and educated client of mine said that he believed it was exposure (the repeated statement of the problem) coupled with a self-soothing technique (tapping) that helped people get clear of their issues. He is a psychologist, so he thinks about these things. The topic has been widely debated, and he is not alone in his suspicions. And the research shows that―he’s wrong. Here’s the deal with EFT tapping.

EFT researchers have begun conducting “dismantling studies” to separate tapping from the cognitive and exposure portions of the protocol. The first study that attempted to parse out the components of EFT’s success were (EFT skeptics) Waite and Holder. In 2003, they conducted a study comparing three tapping conditions (EFT, sham points, and a doll) to a non-tapping condition. However, they mistakenly used EFT points, because they asked participants to with their fingertips, which contain meridian points. Participants in all three tapping groups showed significant improvements; the non-tapping group did not. Waite and Holder concluded that EFT owed its success to distraction and desensitization. But they failed to take the fingertip meridian points into consideration when they reached this conclusion. Perhaps because of this, their study is an outlier when compared to other EFT studies.

In 2013, Louis Fox conducted a study to parse out the components of EFT’s success.  He compared EFT to a control group that used the cognitive and exposure portions of EFT with mindful breathing instead of tapping. The group that used EFT tapping points did significantly better than the control group. In 2014, Rachel Rogers and Sharon Sears conducted a similar study but in this case the control group used sham tapping points. Again, the group that used the actual EFT tapping points had significantly better results. The most recent dismantling study was conducted in 2015 by Reynolds, who also compared EFT to a group using sham tapping. And again, the EFT group had better results than the control group. (See this study in the Energy Psychology Journal)

The research bears out again and again what EFT practitioners and enthusiasts have intuited for more than a decade. Tapping meridian points and focusing on the problem is the recipe for success. EFT has helped thousands of people overcome a variety of emotional issues. If you would like to learn more about it, I highly recommend EFT creator Gary Craig’s website, along with the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology‘s.

Written by 

Sarah is a licensed professional counselor in Pennsylvania. She works as a therapist and coach with people around the world, helping them create more peace within themselves and in their relationships. She is the proud mom of three sons. In her spare time, she's an avowed yogi and an avid runner.

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