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From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Relief: Tapping for Emotional Health

photo of a woman tapping on side of hand
The side of the hand connects to the Heart meridian

From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Relief: The Tapping Evolution

5,000 years ago, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) were inserting needles into specific points on the body to promote healing. In the 1960s, Western practitioners began exploring these meridians, paving the way for a groundbreaking discovery. Fast forward to the 1980s when psychologist Roger Callahan stumbled upon the power of those same points to calm the brain's alarm system.

Callahan had been treating "Mary" for aquaphobia, an intense fear of water. After nearly two years of therapy, she was still afraid to go near a filled bathtub. During one session, Mary became queasy with anxiety. Callahan directed Mary to tap points on her face associated with the stomach meridian hoping it would dispel her nausea. After a few minutes of tapping, Mary suddenly declared her aquaphobia cured. To prove it, she marched outside and stuck her hand in Callahan's swimming pool.

This led Callahan to integrate a tapping protocol he named Thought Field Therapy (TFT) with conventional treatment methods. Similar to acupuncture, tapping stimulates points along energy meridians – energetic channels that carry signals throughout the body. But unlike acupuncture, tapping uses fingertips instead of needles.

The mental health community refined TFT, leading to the creation of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) in 1995. Clinical EFT, championed by Gary Craig, has become the most widely researched tapping method. Today, tens of thousands of mental health professionals use tapping in their clinical practices. Tapping is proven to alleviate anxiety, depression, PTSD, and phobias. It's even used to combat addictions – from nicotine to food cravings.

The Veterans Stress project is one of many initiatives using tapping to treat PTSD in veterans. This quote is from Evan Hessel, a soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

American soldiers in combat gear
Even Hessel served in Iraq and Afghanistan
“If you are at all like me, your first thought – if you are even aware of EFT to begin with – is that this stuff is a bunch of BS. How the hell can tapping on your face and hands alleviate PTSD? But I was wrong, and found this program to be far more effective – and less emotionally invasive – than anything else I have tried for combatting PTSD.”

Emotional First Aid for the World: The Birth of Trauma Tapping Technique

In 2007, Gunilla Hamne, a Swedish journalist interviewing survivors of war, genocide, and natural disasters saw the desperate need for a simple, language-independent technique to help traumatized individuals. Hamne contacted Dr. Carl Johnson from Virginia after reading about his research using EFT with war survivors in Kosovo. Together, they traveled to Rwanda, where Trauma Tapping Technique (TTT) was first used with survivors of the genocide that occurred 12 years before.

TTT eliminates the individualized approach inherent in EFT. Volunteers can teach TTT to members of a community who, in turn, can teach it to others. Anyone can use TTT to counteract the symptoms of stress. Even children can master the simple steps. Despite its simplicity, TTT yields powerful results.

little girl tapping on her fingers
A Syrian child practices TTT in a Greek refugee camp

Hamne partnered with Ulf Sandstrom to establish The Peaceful Heart Network in 2010. Headquartered in Sweden, this non-profit organization is dedicated to teaching TTT and spreading peace and healing globally.

Around the world, communities are tapping and healing together; from a Syrian refugee camp in Greece, to a prison in Rwanda, orphaned Ukrainian children in Poland, an addiction recovery program in Virginia, wildfire survivors in California, and tornado victims in Nepal.

This quote is Dr. Kristin Miller, a clinical psychologist who volunteers with The Peaceful Heart Network. 

“I came into a room of men in a Red Cross shelter just hours after they had escaped from the November 2018 Camp Fire... One man was in fight mode, angrily screaming into his cell phone. Another was rocking back and forth, trying to regulate his system. Another was checked out totally, frozen in a vacant stare. Another man seemed somewhat relaxed and open for engagement. I had him do some regulating breathing with me. Soon, one by one, each man joined in. We were then able to add some tapping. They all settled, and their nervous systems were regulated in about 20 min.”

Think of TTT as emotional first aid – a bandaid for a minor injury. Just as critical intervention is necessary to stabilize a serious wound, TTT is not a replacement for professional mental healthcare in situations of severe trauma.


Practice TTT in this 7-minute guided tapping session

Watch veterans in an EFT session (warning: contains descriptions of combat)

The Science behind Tapping by Dr. Peta Stapleton

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Jun 22
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you Carolyn...hadn't thought of these techniques in a while. I intend wellness. g

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