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By Dr. David Lake

It needs to be said that tapping on energy points (as used in EFT and SET) is not a panacea. There, I’ve said it. You can “try it on everything” but that doesn’t mean everything is going to respond! It’s important to acknowledge the occasional failures of the energy psychology techniques because only in this way can there be transparent progress and some intellectual rigour. Let’s also remember that these techniques are not a therapy in themselves.

The way these marvelous techniques work is not known. As such, those of us experimenting in the field have only our observations and experiences to guide us. One of the problems that beset a new field of treatment is dogma; this means that things must be done in a certain way and not questioned too much. Neither should there be unbridled creativity or licence to change techniques around (I am joking). The real problem here is the way we think about what we are doing—or more likely, don’t think about it. There is a lack of critical thinking in the world today and a great deluge of pseudo-science. In a new field let’s have the grace to say “We don’t know”.

Here are a few current controversies and thought experiments to pique your critical thinking.

  1. Using tapping in pregnancy

So far it seems that the 12 points used by Roger Callahan in TFT and subsequently by Gary Craig in EFT and us in SET are safe. Add a few other multipoint areas (crown of the head, inner and outer wrists), and you have enough points in general use to answer the question: “Are the points safe to use in pregnancy?” After 10 years of intense, uncontrolled ‘experimentation’ the answer is probably “yes” (this is empirical evidence). However, a few acupuncturists claim that some of these points are not safe. Theory versus practice, you might say—but where is the research and trials? There are very, very few of these. So “use your own discretion”. Considering that a woman of childbearing age, wanting to be pregnant, and using tapping generally, will be pregnant for some weeks before she knows it, it had better be safe.

  1. Does tapping affect positive emotion?

The answer is “no”. Or is it? Extensive use of tapping can induce a state of emotional dullness in some people. Generally there is little effect on positive feelings and this is just as well, almost a fail-safe procedure for the naïve beginner. Let’s not assume that all meridian stimulation is entirely beneficial even if we want it to be.

  1. How does tapping change a physical affliction if there is no obvious emotional component?

According to Gary Craig, the cause of all negative emotion is a disruption in the body’s energy system. But there are many other factors involved in injury or pain, and it’s possible that tapping is a mediating process which removes the barriers to healing, regardless of emotional issues. For example, tapping is a good candidate to have an effect on the body’s endorphins (naturally occurring morphines). Why should a technique exist in isolation and not combine with the other pathways and processes in the human body?

Certainly tapping affects the final common pathway for nervous system expression—especially for traumatic stress—and can permanently change those stress feelings. This is easy to demonstrate.

  1. Does tapping help treat the basis of severe depression, or psychotic disorders?

Sometimes it does. Mostly it does not. This is rare: to find that tapping is the sole treatment and agent of change in these conditions. Of course there is no current research as such (in a scientific way) to justify this statement. And some isolated anecdotes of astounding recoveries give hope to those who wish for the best outcomes in treating such afflictions. In the real world of treating severe depression it may be possible to use the meridian system alone, either through tapping or specialist acupuncture, to bring about great clinical change. My point is that this is not a common result at present, and to accept that does not block thinking about improving things.

  1. Can you tap without using points?

Of course you can. Although there are meridian points all over the body, so it is hard to miss them, some early techniques for treating children’s emotional problems used tapping or patting on both sides of the body (usually on the limbs). These were derivative techniques of EMD/R, the eye movement technique. Presumably they worked by distracting the usual cortex functions. They were very effective (just don’t call it “tapping”!).

  1. Can a treated problem return?

Yes, it can. Larry Nims, originator of BSFF, says that any problem can recur under enough stress. And an under-treated problem is more likely to do so. While all of the original meridian techniques have great merit and application’ none appears to be superior in itself. It depends on the user and the way it is integrated in an approach.

  1. What is the next level of the healing high-rise?

Gary Craig has often referred to this idea and says we are on the “ground floor”. Actually I am hoping a reader will answer this question. Possibly the next level is a streamlining of the general approach, and a simplification. The work of Larry Nims in ‘coding” the whole treatment approach to a cue word is enticing. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get some permanent positive change to those parts of our belief systems that harbour our negative self-image like old concrete? Or even to stop any pernicious mental activity altogether? Possibly the other parts of the human system like the chakras and self-awareness are more important than we know.

Where will these changes be coming from, I hear you ask?

As they say in Thailand: “Up to you!”

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17 Replies to “Controversies in Tapping”

Thanks for setting up this blog, guys! What a wonderful way to have an ongoing conversation about these energy techniques.

David, I was intrigued by your statement that “extensive use of tapping can produce a state of emotional dullness in some people.” I would love to know more about what you’ve seen in that area.

Having never seen or experienced what that is, I tried to recall if there was anything similar in my own work with clients (or with myself), and the only thing I could come up with was the state of an “emotional neutral zone”. Not to say that that’s what you meant, but I started thinking about the idea of the drawbacks of emotions.

In this neutral zone I’m referring to, the emotions aren’t dulled per se, just the triggers to the emotions are eliminated, so there is a new (sometimes disconcerting) sense of quietness or nothingness where there had normally been strong feelings. The emotions about the issue are suddenly absent.

And yet, this stillness of emotions is “a condition devoutly to be wished” as Hamlet would say, since, in my experience, that is where the new ground of being “at choice” comes to light. New steps can be taken on this new foundation, without the limiting emotions coming into play just yet. (Oh, yes, they’ll be back….but never again with that same intensity on that exact trigger point.)

I’m not saying that’s what you meant by emotional dullness, but it intrigued me to see how sometimes NOT having emotions about an issue or idea or memory can be a GOOD thing, can allow us a new freedom, and can be an indicator that we are now “at choice” to create a new path for ourselves.

Dr. Lake,

I have been working with a variety of methods in energy medicine and energy psychology since the early 1990s. EFT, TAT, BSFF, PSYCH-K are just a few of the methods I have used on myself, on my clients and groups, and in clinical settings (with a U.S. News & World Report top 100 hospital).

To your question – if EFT represents the groundfloor, what would represent the “next generation” tools?

Check out the Tools For A New Earth website. The methods featured there employ energetic coding and command phrases that are a quantum leap beyond Larry Nimm’s BSFF since they have been designed to target the subtle energy anatomy.

At the same time, these tools also work well to amplify the effects of the standard energy psychology methods like TAT or EFT, and also to capture the gains made in one-on-one sessions with clients.

I encourage you to check out to learn more about these exciting developments. If you are interested I will send you some sample coded images to “test-drive” for yourself.

Keep up the great work!

Hi David,

This may not directly relate to the questions “Where will these changes be coming from..?” and “What is the next level of the healing high-rise?” posed by you, but, since the questions, and the article, triggered what I am about to share, it will be my response nonetheless.

Lately there has been something darting around in my mind about beliefs. I haven’t (yet) been able to solidify it. It remains just out of reach and out of focus . This article brought it to a momentary stop and allowed me to get a quick glimpse of it. Kind of like, just for a second, seeing a well camouflaged fish dash out of hiding to grab a bite of something, then fade back into the weeds, leaving behind a flash of something on which my mind fills in with random bits and pieces, attempting to create a more recognizable image.

So this may not be much related to your piece, but it is acting as a brain-dump for me, and hopefully might contribute to the discussion.

All that being said: I’ve noticed that some of these “negative self-image” beliefs in old concrete actually (probably!) started out as “positive” self-image beliefs. They actually helped at various times to get what we said we wanted, and so we kept them – just because, for some results, they worked!

But, a glitch happens when certain beliefs no longer get us the results we want. We rarely consider that it may be possible to shift to other “beliefs”. Why would we? We’ve hold the ones that worked so long that they became “facts”. (I suggest that the difference between a “belief” and a “fact”, at least in the area of self-image, is represented by the accumulation of the aforementioned “old concrete”.)

And one of the most factual of beliefs (or is it most believable of facts) is that facts are facts, and by definition, are unassailable, unchangeable.

So, as individuals we are left with certain concrete beliefs … er.. facts about who I am, what I do, why I do it, etc. What is missing opening to the possibility that these concrete beliefs, so-called “facts” can be changed.

And even with coaching, counselling, tapping etc. when the possibility of changing beliefs is considered, even just as a thought experiment or a ‘try-it-on’ exercise, one often finds oneself up against shifting personal foundations. “What? I can change my beliefs? (usually a slight pause -then) How?”

Aha! That “How?” is where, in my practice, the tapping often becomes more more pronounced. I have heard clients, over the telephone slapping their tapping points (only slight exaggeration) believing that if it is good to tap gently, it can only be more helpful to tap harder and quicker!

When the “How?” question arrives, it means the possibility of change has been accepted. (*note: the possibility has been accepted, not necessarily an actual change yet) At least one concrete belief has started crumbling and the comfort zone is being stretched. Most folks believe that something “must” be inserted in order to re- stabilize. And quickly!

I have found that clients who obtain the best long-term results (for them) using tapping techniques (customized for them) tend to NOT seek immediate stabilization at this point. They actually feel a sense of relief, a sense of freedom, and like it enough to stay “de-stablized” for awhile… even confused!

It seems that this state allows a person (it does me!) to be more open to creative options that would not have even been considered in the “concrete” state. Allows “inner” energies to rise up. We all have these “inner” energies, concepts, and truths, yet most of the time their flow is blocked by the hardened beliefs we have built up for ourselves. I believe that, the longer we hold self-image beliefs, the more safety we feel. Nothing too threatening is likely to get through them.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some value to safety, no doubt; but with too much safety comes rigidity. And on the other hand, too much flexibility can result in aimlessness. A useful mixture for the best results requires some of both. (No I don’t have an actual recipe – but thanks for asking.)

When I remember how I came to adopt these energy techniques, and who came before, I can see that if there hadn’t been an openness by certain “pioneers”, a willingness to challenge beliefs, a willingness to be puzzled by an observed result, a questioning of “convention”, we wouldn’t even have dug the hole for the foundations of the high-rise yet.

That being said, I think a step for us as practitioners is to support confusion. To be comfortable with “We don’t know.” Keep checking, particularly ourselves, for hardening beliefs. The motto is “Try it on everything.” The word “try” suggests experimentation, openness, adaptability. Sometimes the result of “trying” is relief, resolution, satisfaction. Sometimes it is complexity, confusion or stasis. EIther way there are learning opportunities.

To quote David, from early in the piece: “One of the problems that beset a new field of treatment is dogma; this means that things must be done in a certain way and not questioned too much. Neither should there be unbridled creativity or licence to change techniques around (I am joking). The real problem here is the way we think about what we are doing—or more likely, don’t think about it. There is a lack of critical thinking in the world today and a great deluge of pseudo-science. In a new field let’s have the grace to say “We don’t know”.

In a round about way, even if not a definite answer to, “Where will these changes be coming from..?” and “What is the next level of the healing high-rise?” I am comfortable in saying that supporting confusion is likely a step in the right direction. And by confusion I mean everything from a thoughtful “..hmmm?” to stomping out of the room, pulling out one’s hair, during a presentation or workshop.

In closing, I extend my thanks to both David Lake and Steve Wells in not only triggering, but supporting, my own acceptance of confusion across much of the spectrum!

And please continue to, as they say in Australia “Stir the possum!” (p.211 Great Aussie Slang book – to raise controversial issues)

I love ENERGY TONING I used to be a runner and experienced runner’s high. Then I started taking a weight training class. I noticed the same endorphin release in myself and in the instructors. It is a class set to music.
With this in mind when I energy tone by tapping for 15 -20 minutes I also get a similar energy high.
Next I watched a you tube movie where a lady in 5 minutes shows a definite mood improvement. I think the tapping did help her release some brain chemicals possibly.

Hi David & Hi Steve

BRAVO to you for the new (ever so bright and bodacious) Blog!

I met you both in London in spring 2007 (Columbia Hotel, intro’d by Sue & Emma) ) and am still smiling at some of the memories. (Did your inflatable friend go to Stuttgart too, btw? If so, I hope he/she made it back safely…)

Meanwhile, your blog has thoroughly distracted me (should be printing handouts for EFT workshop next week!), notably the comment and associated link posted by Russ diCarlo. If you decide to look into / already know about / condone / dismiss or generally have a view on the vibrationally encoded images he mentions, I wonder if perhaps you could comment?

I’d also be intrigued to know if either of you have used Holosync materials at all, either personally or for your clients? (Holosync (bother, can’t find the required trademark symbol on my laptop) audio CDs use an encoded technology that triggers the brain into deep meditation state and, purportedly, helps balance the right and left sides of brain) After coming across an endorsement of it by an MD in Gary Craig’s newslettter, I’ve been trying it out for myself. Quite interesting so far: definitely has an effect. I’ve been asking around, and at least two of the UK EFT Masters are also using it. I wondered if you guys are, too? Perhaps it comprises a wing of the next floor of Gary’s healing high-rise? (its website is

anyway, warmest wishes, and love, from sunny Switzerland! Jennifer

Hi David & Steve,

before anything else, is the downUnder spelling of weird wierd?:)

We are all on a path of Self discovery to re-member that we are all One and are using our various lifetime realities to experience, rather than just to be.
Since we are all energy, it is easy to understand how the manipulation of energy in our systems can affect change.
I am also using Holosync on a daily basis and EFT on particular physical/emotional issues as they arise. I feel that rather than being emotionally dulled, I have achieved the ability to make a choice and look at the big picture. What a relief to no longer being a slave to the emotional reactive triggers. What is enhanced is the pure joy of being even when events and surroundings suggest otherwise. In Hinduism it is said that the veil of illusion “Maya” is lifted… as well as the collective insanity – ha 🙂
I do think that all of this comes through many years of searching for spiritual answers and finding out that the ultimate answers lie within every one of us. EFT ( Holosync) aid in the discovery and if we wish some of us follow the threat beyond our personal dramas and arrive back at the beginning (before transformation back to consciousness)
Is EFT meant to heal us all in this lifetime? I doubt that since part of the “fun” of the “experience” is having it. If we never experience darkness, we cannot appreciate the light.

David Lake

Dear Bloggers,

Interesting responses from the cyber-aware tappers. Hi everybody.

Kristelle, the “emotional dullness” I referred to is like that neutrality you mention except that in some people it is also a lowered tone of emotional affect (to a degree). Possibly the tapping can have some effect on all emotion (not just negative). Anyway, it’s transient, no real bother. Is this the reason why some partners who know tapping want, in context, sometimes to get “good and mad” first with their significant other, then do the tapping??

Kerry, keep going with the confudion: I know you will get there!! Try reading the excellent book “Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar…
Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes” by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein []
One such ditty presented to illuminate the relativity between finite time and eternity goes like this:

A man is praying to God. “Lord,” he prays, “I would like to ask you a question.”

The Lord responds, “No problem. Go ahead.”

“Lord, is it true that a million years to you is but a second?”

“Yes, that is true.”

“Well, then, what is a million dollars to you?”

“A million dollars to me is but a penny.”

“Ah, then, Lord,” says the man, “may I have a penny?”

“Sure,” says the Lord. “Just a second.”

Ross, I looked at the “Tools For A New Earth” on that website. Interesting. From what I can glean from the (TM) processes, there is chicken soup for the tapper’s souls here. [It looked a bit like the efforts from that elephant in the zoo that could do oil paintings with it’s trunk holding the brush…but what do I know?Those paintings were selling like hot cakes.] But will the Tools replace Monet or Mozart??

Hildegard’s Holosync happenings likewise have plenty of feedback over years from those who use them for personal benefit. My brain could do with a bit of deep meditation after hearing some of Steve’s off-colour jokes in Germany. I think I need the top and bottom parts of my brain balanced because my right brain has long ago hijacked the whole show elsewhere in the lateral hemispheres…

Encoded vibrational stuff is in the ‘too-hard’ basket for me theoretically BUT I know it works as I have seen it work. What bothers me not a little are the claims made by some proponents of such wonders. The only thing not cured is world hunger. Stop me before I become more cynical and twisted. No, one does not judge in one’s old age, one merely observes….

The healing high-rise analogy is the way we talk about real leaps in understanding or technique or results. Despite the small advances I don’t see any quantum leap over the last decade in application or understanding. But that’s OK. I will leave it to Joaquim Andraade and his enormous thinking and researching apparatus.

Hildegard (great name), I notice from your message you might want more “fun” experiences so you can appreciate the “light” afterwards…as Frank Farrelly says about the oh-so-popular “learning experience”: “I don’t know how many of these learning experiences I can handle!”. I say pass out a little enlightment now so I can forget about some future healing in another lifetime. Have you read “What’s Wrong With Right Now–Unless You Think About It?” by Bob Adamson? Tapping while enlightened–there’s the healing high rise left abandoned while we lie in the sun eating peeled grapes.

Keep those cards and letters coming in. Let the One become many.


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