Tapping away stress and anxiety

Part 3 of a 5-part series

Exactly what the title implies: We can literally use our fingers to tap on acupressure points to relieve a host of symptoms, feelings, and triggering events from our past in a painless, cost-effective (free), and time-efficient manner.  

I am all for embracing the new, applying the tools, expanding my knowledge, and growing as an individual.

As mentioned in the first installment of this series of posts, I was given an opportunity to spend time with a highly experienced, now retired psychologist. When he offered me the option to experience the tapping modality, without hesitation I said “Yes!”

Tapping has gained some traction over time. Essentially it is “tapping acupressure points that are connected to psychological functioning and if you tap on those points … you could get similar results as if you were doing actual acupuncture,” Dr. Herrick said.   

Each acupuncture location has different “connections” and can impact different feelings and issues. You ultimately want to find “three or four [tapping locations] that will help and quiet” what you are struggling with. 

This is a self-empowering way to clear a negative belief system an individual holds onto, thereby limiting them as they approach and live their daily life. 

The Tapping technique (Emotional Freedom Technique) is based on the method established by Dr. Gary Craig. His work was built upon the innovative breakthroughs of Dr. Roger Callahan.   

It is an “effective psychotherapy for the rapid and natural healing of negative emotions and psychological problems,” using “nature’s therapeutic system to balance the body’s energy system promoting natural healing and improved mental health.”*

Tapping is performed on certain acupressure points, one after the other, while simultaneously visualizing a certain (negative) event or memory. Once identified and really “in the zone” of that particular event or memory, it is broken down and reframed via a self-acceptance statement.

A practitioner would verbalize and walk you through this, and there are phrases that you, as the client, would repeat, in order to reframe the event or memory. 

This is a modality with the ability to be learned by the patient and implemented in real time by yourself. 

A very informative fact to individually process is that of what does emotion mean?   

“It is important to differentiate between the perception of an emotion, its expression or communication and the real phenomenological experience of an emotion.”**

What does this mean? “Emotional perception and the subjective emotional experience are two distinct processes, which can completely deviate from one another,”** as:

  • Emotional perception – “general way an emotional stimulus is processed”
  • Emotional experience – “describes the felt emotion elicited by a stimulus” … your feelings

Sometimes it’s not clear, accepted in the masses, or comfortable – but your emotions, your pain, your perception – is yours, and valid.

Let’s dive into the basics of tapping, including certain points I was introduced to and the phrases verbalized throughout it.       

It all starts with identifying a problem that I wanted to work through.   Examples seen in practice include “anxiety, depression, alcoholism, struggles [they] have with others, emotions, [the inability to] decrease stress” … “It can be anything; it’s wide-ranging,” he said.    

Once selected, it was time for me to “get into touch with my problem” and select how deeply I feel it on a scale of 1 to 10. This scale is called the Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDs).

Examples of points tapped can include: top (center) of head, inner eyebrows, under eyes, under nose, under lip, under collarbone, and ribcage.

The way you speak to yourself via phrases is a key component of tapping. Here are a few examples Herrick shared with me:

  • “I hate this problem. I struggle with this so often.
  • I’m so sick of this feeling. It bothers me way too much. This emotion / feeling gets in the way. It affects me in a negative way.
  • I’ve had these feelings for so long I don’t know how to shake them. These feelings have been so powerful.”

Upon going through the above stages it is imperative to take deep breaths and “concentrate on the stress, how hard it is, and how tiring it is to have this repetitive [problem].”

When you’re in this quiet space, it makes it easier to zero in on how you feel.  It’s important to identify how you feel before and after this modality. The hope is to have whatever number you chose significantly lowered upon the end of a session.

“Once the SUDs is significantly reduced, a second round of tapping begins.  It concentrates on installing positive thoughts and beliefs that contradict the negative thought patterns that have just been reduced.”  

Examples of this could be:

  • “I can now handle the fact that this happened to me.
  • I can now move forward without nervousness and anxiety.
  • It’s so good to have these negative thoughts gone from my head.
  • I can do what I need to do to improve my life.”

At the end of the treatment, I truly didn’t feel any stress. The first statement that came to mind was: clean slate. My number had dropped substantially.   

As Herrick said, “There are a lot of things we [as individuals] carry around with us that impact us, emotionally, physically and mentally.”

This was all around a very positive experience for me, with beneficial results felt upon completion of tapping.

The more we know about our options to aid in health and wellness, the better suited we are to make decisions when seeking out new treatment.  I hope you found this experience review beneficial and if so fitting, inspires you to find a practitioner that is well-educated, trained, and positioned to perform this with you.

In positive strides, tapping was approved “as a generally safe therapy by the US Veterans Administration (VA). A group of experts in the VA’s Integrative Health Coordinating Center published a statement approving [it] and several other complementary and integrative health practices.”*** This is in an effort for therapists to use it to help individuals who suffer with myriad of conditions, including PTSD, pain, anxiety and depression.

I understand that many factors (i.e. financial, awareness, time) influence the ability to find an experienced in modalities such as Tapping as well as have the ability to experience them. I hope that through this article, resources available in your community or via online search engines/groups, you can find the appropriate treatment that could best benefit your health and wellbeing.




Watch for more in the series, “Learning to reprocess cyclic thoughts with EMDR therapy” on May 4, 2023