Does it Matter where I Tap?

By Steve Wells and Dr David Lake

One of the major differences between EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and TFT (Thought Field Therapy) from which EFT evolved, has been the contention of many TFT practitioners that the particular sequence of tapping matters. TFT practitioners advocate a different set of algorithms (tapping sequences) for each different emotion to be treated, believing that the successful treatment is like finding a key to a lock. At the higher levels, TFT practitioners teach a diagnostic process for determining exactly “where to tap”. And the presumed highest level of TFT is the “magic black box” called Voice Technology, which is supposed to tell practitioners and clients the exact sequence of points to tap on for their problem using a secret proprietary technology known only to those who have paid the US$100 000 to learn VT.

Gary Craig long ago discarded the Voice Technology process despite being the first person to have made this significant financial investment. He also discarded the specific sequences for specific emotions idea in favour of his “comprehensive overhaul sequence” which is used in EFT, later refining his process to a shorter 7-point process. What Gary had determined from his own work with clients was that tapping on specific points didn’t matter as much as assisting the client to work more specifically on issues, in particular the specific past events behind their issues. In his advanced video tapes (available by clicking on the link at: http://www.eftdownunder.com/products.html ) Gary teaches processes for working intuitively using EFT, and determining points to tap on without needing VT – AT US$60 for Gary’s video DVD’s it is a far more cost-effective option than parting with $100, 000, especially since the results appear to be the same! More recently, Gary can be seen using a process of almost continual tapping within a relationship characterised by excellent rapport and conversations focused largely on core specific past events and their associations. In our clinical work we also had come to the conclusion that such “continual tapping” was one of the key elements for success, and David Lake wrote an article to this effect entitled “In praise of continual tapping” which was distributed via Gary Craig’s newsletter.

But can the processes developed by Gary and used by us and other EFT practitioners presume to be as successful as those developed by Callahan, the originator of TFT from which EFT evolved? Many TFT practitioners are at pains to point out in their literature that “One sequence does not cure all”, and that specific sequences for specific problems produces better results. But does it? And how many of them have truly tested this hypothesis as comprehensively as Gary has? Highly regarded TFT practitioner and Clinical Psychologist Fred Gallo reportedly tested the necessity for specific sequences of points on over 500 of his private practice clients and concluded at the end of this that sequence does not matter.

Recent announcements by Monica Pignotti, formerly one of the foremost advocates of Voice Technology and TFT’s process of causal diagnosis (determining points to tap on using muscle testing), have thrown the Energy Psychology world into an uproar – and caused many practitioners to question what they have previously believed about how EFT and TFT work. Writing on the TFT Algorithms List Serve, Monica announced that she had conducted a single blind study to test the effectiveness of Voice Technology tapping sequences versus randomly determined tapping sequences. Monica presented her algorithms to participants from eight different algorithm trainings held in the US, the UK, and Australia. She writes: “I informed the instructors that I was collecting data, but I didn’t tell the instructor or the participants that I was using a random algorithm on half the group. Every other person got VT, and every other person got the random sequence, and no one could hear the difference over the phone because I kept everything else … the same. “

Here is how she reported the “surprise result”:

“The results I got from this experiment stunned me. It turned out that I had identical results for each group … In short, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups at all.

What was even more incredible was that there were individuals at that training who had utterly failed with algorithms who were helped with these random sequences…”

Monica goes on to write:

“When I first became acquainted with TFT, I was highly skeptical. However, I have always been open to evidence and the truth has always been more important to me than being “right” or “wrong”. At that time, I had been debating Roger and other TFT proponents on a list serv, but when Roger offered me evidence, in the form of an algorithm, I tried it and when I saw the results, I announced that I had been wrong in my negative judgment against TFT. You all know the rest of the story. I became one of the most passionate advocates of TFT and of Voice Technology. However, now, the facts of reality have presented me with another correction and I have to, once again, say that I have been wrong. “

Monica’s findings should serve as a reminder to us all not to be too attached to our hypotheses. What they seem to indicate is that any sequence of tapping on meridian points can potentially produce results. Gary Craig has argued for a long time that the entire meridian system is connected so that sufficient stimulation of a sequence of meridian points can have an effect. However, he tends to primarily use the 7 upper body points of his shortcut EFT sequence (eyebrow, side of eye, under eye, under nose, under mouth, collarbone, under arm), together with some comprehensive points introduced to us by Acupuncturist Michael Gandy in the original Advanced Workshop (Steps Towards Becoming the Ultimate Therapist). These points are on the top of the head in the midline, approximately two finger breadths from the main crease of the wrist and the corresponding area on the outside of the wrist, and also above the ankle.

Since Monica’s shock announcement that random sequences of tapping on meridian points may be as effective as VT diagnosed sequences, many Energy Psychology list serves have seen passionate debate about whether causal diagnosis and VT are really necessary. What has also come out is the question of whether it really matters where you tap.

A parallel finding reported on the Energym list appears to suggest that perhaps the answer to this question is no. Joaquin Andrade, MD. , who conducted the first large scale of Energy Psychology results (over 29 000 patients – see a report on this study in David Feinsein’s Energy Psychology Interactive) contributed these findings of his own to the debate:

“As a matter of fact we have found, after several tens of thousand of patients, that we can tap, massage, touch, pinch, etc. anywhere, “points” or not, meridians” or not, “sham points” or not. Any inch of skin where there is innervation or mucous surfaces,are good to tap. Yes, there are some areas that are more efficient than others: more mechanoreceptors under the skin. And there are some hsue with specific “functional” actions.”

And in another post, Joaquin reported the following:

“A mega study (N=500.000)to determine the efficacy of acupuncture is now being conducted at the German universities of Marburg, Heidelberg, Bochum and Mainz, sponsored by four large health insurance companies. The trials are expected to be finished by the end of this year. Preliminary results are showing that indeed there are clinical responses, and that sham acupuncture yields the same benefits as “real” acupuncture.”

Of course the relationship of these results to tapping remains to be seen. Taken together however the data seems to indicate that where to tap isn’t as necessary as TO tap – or to stimulate the points in some physical way. In fact, as some practitioners have found, there are a variety of ways of stimulating points that may also prove effective (eg. The Touch and Breathe Technique developed by John Diepold involves simply touching each point whilst breathing into it).

Thus, whilst we know that tapping on a sequence of meridian points, whilst “tuned into” the problem frequently provides effective results, until we have more data we must conclude that the specific sequence of tapping points may not matter as much as the process of tapping and “tuning in” itself.

So why continue to tap on the points we use in EFT?

Whether you use the shortcut 7-point EFT sequence, or the 13-point original EFT sequence, or whether you also add in the comprehensive points used above, or not, why use these particular points?

The short answer is because they do work. And because they are accessible. The points on the face are often the ‘end-points” of the meridian channel so that might be significant. The first few points are said to have a “back through the brain” function in meridian terms. Roger Callahan discovered these points in his breakthrough work in formulating Thought Field Therapy TFT™ so his many students, including Gary Craig and Larry Nims, used them freely in experimenting with order, sequence and effect. Personally, we have found that certain points do “work” better for us, more often than points chosen mechanically or at random.

The long answer is that there are so many possibilities for stimulating the meridian system, and the manner of stimulating it, that it doesn’t seem to matter in a practical sense. It is probably not possible to avoid stimulating some meridian no matter where you tap. It appears also that the meridian system generally is interconnected, so whether you are tapping on one side or another does not really seem to matter. Whether you tap, or rub or gently hold or even use laser “washing” (e.g. on the ear) you will achieve results if you use the techniques of focus and persistence.

There are very, very few techniques that ordinary people can use alone to gain some control over negative feelings. This book gives you two of them: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Simple Energy Techniques (SET). These are not merely psychological techniques, rather they are body-energy techniques, and they will change your life.

For a more indepth discussion on tapping, we recommend our new book Enjoy Emotional Freedom – Simple techniques for living life to the full.

This is an exciting book about a big subject. It represents the fruit of a decade of experimentation and innovation in the field of energy psychology by Steve Wells and Dr David Lake. In a nutshell the techniques taught in this book allow you to ‘tune’ and ‘tone’ your body’s energy system for the immediate benefit of relaxation and a reduction of the body’s stress responses. You can also learn how to apply the meridian energy stimulation directly to a number of emotional issues with predictable positive results: typically, these are the issues of fear, anxiety and hurt.

This book enables and empowers the ordinary person to start getting results now, without having to be psychologically-minded or clever. It’s full of useful tips and strategies which can be deceptively simple. At the same time it includes many innovative refinements and advanced techniques which will be of interest to EFT practitioners and advanced “tappers” in helping them to enhance their results. This book guides you into ways of being better balanced and more emotionally ‘fit’ regardless of the thinking you might be saddled with at present. Best of all, the book is a simple one about a simplification of energy techniques. It gives you the life-long gift of being able to help yourself far more than you ever imagined.