What Is Tapping For Anxiety?

By Steven Finkelstein

Updated June 05, 2020

Many people have anxiety, and for some of them, it is more severe than with others. In all cases where your anxiety has gotten out of control, it can be a significant burden for you, and you must find ways of coping with it that can get your life back on track again. In this article, we're going to be talking about tapping for anxiety, which is also referred to as EFT, or the emotional freedom technique. It also goes by the name psychological acupressure in some circles. We'll explain what it is and in what circumstances it would be appropriate for you to incorporate it into your life.

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Signs that Your Anxiety Has Progressed to a Dangerous Point

Before we get into EFT, it's critical for you to have an understanding of when your anxiety has reached dangerous levels. Your body has multiple ways of telling you that you might be approaching a crisis. You might feel extremely nervous when you go out in public or when you encounter a specific situation. Some people have anxiety that's related to their job, while others might feel nervous or anxious when they are around particular people or groups of people.

Some physical symptoms of anxiety might include a persistent stomach ache, sweaty palms, or gastric reflux. You might feel restlessness or fatigue. You may feel irritable, or you might get to the point of hypervigilance or paranoia. You may tremble, have heart palpitations, or have a sense of impending doom that you can't shake. You may have trouble sleeping as well.

There may be cognitive issues related to anxiety. Your thoughts might race, for instance. You may not be able to concentrate in situations where that is required. You might find yourself persistently thinking about specific things that you'd prefer not to be considering.

If one of these are true, or more than one, it's a sure bet that your anxiety level has progressed beyond the point that could be considered healthy. That's when it's time for you to start looking into some ways of alleviating it, such as tapping.


EFT, or emotional freedom technique, is an alternative treatment for emotional distress or physical pain. The general term tapping is also used to describe it, or some people prefer psychological acupressure. The basic idea behind it is that you can tap different places on the body to disrupt a sensation of pain or to create a renewed sense of balance in your energy system.

The idea of human beings generating a living energy field can be traced back to the Eastern system of medicine. When acupuncture treatments are used, they are based on there being channels in the body through which energy flows. EFT relies on the same assumption.

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The research of EFT could still be said to be in its infancy. Some people swear by it, though Western medicine has not signed off on it as a surefire cure for anything. Where it seems to be most useful is for treating people who have pronounced issues with anxiety, and also those who have post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Does EFT Work?

EFT focuses on the different meridian points that are believed to exist in the human body. Specific meridian points are associated with stress, so it stands to reason that by focusing on them and stimulating them that anxiety might be alleviated. Meridian points can be regarded as energy hot spots. Triggering them can restore balance to a human who is in distress. These pathways through your body allow energy to flow through you, and if one of them is impeded, then you are likely to be unhappy and unhealthy.

This idea also surfaces in yoga. Before you start taking a yoga class, often the instructor will examine you physically to see if they can detect any blockages in your chakras. If there is one, focusing on it in class through targeted exercises can help you. It is fascinating to see how disciplines like acupuncture, yoga, and tapping all intersect in their belief systems that way.

The Difference Between Acupuncture and Tapping for Anxiety

Though acupuncture and EFT rely on the same basic principle, the first uses long, thin needles to stimulate the pressure points to relieve anxiety or some other ailment, while with EFT it is finger tapping. It might seem a little strange, the idea of tapping yourself with a finger to heal an ailment, but it is not an uncommon idea in Eastern medicine. It is only likely to seem bizarre or abnormal to someone who has grown up being treated only by Western medicine.

Proponents of EFT say that if it is done correctly, it can tap into the body's natural ability to control stress. Stimulation of the meridian points through EFT can reduce feelings of negativity that are essentially paralyzing you. Whatever issues are bothering you the most will not seem nearly as bad once you undergo treatment. Your negative feelings will dissipate, and you will feel reborn, free of stagnant energy that was blocking your channels.

The Five Steps of EFT

If you're going to go through EFT, it can be done in five steps. The first is to identify the issue that is bothering you. The cause of your stress might be immediately evident to you, or it might not. If you can't readily identify it, then you might need some therapy first. By talking to a therapist, you can identify the issue that is causing you the most anxiety. Once you know what it is, you can go to an EFT specialist. They're relatively uncommon in the United States, but they're out there. Try to go to one who is well reviewed online or that your doctor recommends.

Test the Intensity of Your Feelings

Next, the EFT practitioner will have to gauge the intensity of your anxiety or problem. You can attempt to explain how badly this issue impairs you by using a scale of 1-10, with one being not very impaired to ten being total paralysis. If your anxiety has reached a level of ten, then you're not likely to be able to even leave your house or function in society.

The Setup

During the setup, you will visit the EFT practitioner wherever it is that they practice. If you aren't able to leave the house because of your anxiety, then it is not inconceivable that they might come to you. The two of you will then come up with a phrase or a mantra that encapsulates the problem that you are having. By saying it several times in the form of a chant, you are focusing your entire mind and body on that issue. You are putting yourself in a state of preparedness for the tapping to be successful in clearing your channels.

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The EFT Tapping Sequence

You'll then make yourself comfortable and initiate the tapping sequence. There are usually nine focal points that you'll want to hit in order. You'll be doing this yourself. The EFT specialist or practitioner can instruct you on how to do it, though in later sessions you'll likely get the hang of it and you should be able to do it without their help.

How Do You Feel?

The last of the five steps is to assess how you feel at the end of the session versus the beginning. You may need to do several sessions before your anxiety has dissipated significantly, or you might feel relief quickly. That depends on many factors, starting with how deep and abiding your anxiety is.

Does EFT Work?

As for whether EFT works or not, some people find significant relief from it, while others do not. The same is true of acupuncture. Those who are skeptical of tapping therapies are often those who are very much rooted in a Western style of medicine and aren't particularly receptive to alternatives. Some doctors feel like the benefits of tapping are psychosomatic, meaning that there is a feeling of relief because the subject thinks that there will be rather than because any physical change is occurring.

If you try EFT and it works for you - if it relieves your anxiety and allows you to live your best life - then the science behind it shouldn't preoccupy you. You're trying to come up with a way to feel better, and if this is it, it's great that you discovered it.

Who Should Try Tapping for Anxiety?

Those who are the most likely to benefit from tapping for anxiety are those who know that they are highly anxious about something, but they're reluctant to go on any prescription drugs for it. Western medicine is quite focused on the administration of drugs, for better or worse. Pharmaceutical companies do big business here in the States, and it seems as though there is medication for virtually any issue. Many of them work well, but often they come with side effects, and some people would prefer not to go that route because of it.

If you are interested in trying a non-traditional form of treatment, then tapping for anxiety may be the answer for you. It will not harm you, so in a worst-case scenario, you'll be back to where you started, and you'll need to seek some other form of treatment. Much like acupuncture, you won't know if it works till you try it, and it might prove to be the answer to your problem.

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If you want to talk about some alternative ideas or solutions to your anxiety, you can reach out to a qualified medical professional. Talking to someone and discussing a few notions that you might not have come up with yet can make you feel much better about your prospects going forward. Don't ever believe that you have to go through life living with anxiety. It's not fair to yourself or the people in your life who care about you and don't want to see you suffering.

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