Tapping for Nervous System Regulation: Does it work?

Finding effective and accessible methods to regulate our nervous system and manage stress is crucial. One such method that has gained popularity is tapping, also known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). This holistic approach to mental health is praised for its simplicity and versatility, offering a way to manage emotions and alleviate stress. In this blog post, we’ll explore what tapping is, how it is used, some popular methods, and the importance of recognizing its limitations.

What is Tapping?

Tapping is a form of alternative therapy that involves tapping specific points on the body, primarily on the face and upper body, while focusing on a specific issue or emotion. This method is rooted in both ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology, combining the physical effects of tapping on energy meridians with cognitive elements such as focusing on and verbalizing the issue at hand.

The core principle behind tapping is that negative emotions and experiences can cause blockages or disruptions in the body’s energy system, which tapping aims to release. By stimulating these meridian points, tapping can help restore balance to the body’s energy, reduce stress, and promote emotional healing.

How is Tapping Used?

Tapping is used to address a variety of emotional and psychological issues, including anxiety, stress, trauma, and phobias. It can also be employed for physical pain relief and improving performance in various areas of life. Here’s a general outline of how a typical tapping session might look:

  1. Identify the Issue: The first step is to pinpoint the specific problem or emotion you want to address. This could be a fear, a traumatic memory, or a physical pain.
  2. Rate the Intensity: Before starting the tapping process, rate the intensity of your feeling or pain on a scale of 0 to 10. This helps in measuring progress after the session.
  3. Create a Setup Statement: This is a phrase that acknowledges the problem and accepts oneself despite it. For example, “Even though I have this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
  4. Tap on the Points: Using your fingertips, tap on specific points on the body while repeating a reminder phrase that focuses on the issue. Common tapping points include the side of the hand, the top of the head, the eyebrows, the side of the eyes, under the eyes, under the nose, the chin, the collarbone, and under the arms.
  5. Reassess the Intensity: After completing a round of tapping, rate the intensity of the issue again. If the intensity has decreased but not completely resolved, repeat the process until you feel a significant reduction in distress.

Popular Tapping Methods

There are several variations of tapping, with EFT being the most widely recognized. However, other methods have also gained traction:

  • Thought Field Therapy (TFT): Developed by Dr. Roger Callahan, TFT is considered the precursor to EFT. It involves tapping on specific sequences of meridian points based on the issue being addressed.
  • Matrix Reimprinting: This technique combines EFT with visualization and re-imprinting new, positive beliefs into past traumatic memories.
  • Faster EFT: Created by Robert G. Smith, Faster EFT integrates elements of traditional EFT, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and modern psychology, focusing on the mind-body connection and faster results.

The Importance of Professional Mental Health Care

While tapping can be a valuable tool for managing stress and emotional distress, it is essential to recognize that it is not a substitute for professional mental health care. Tapping can be a supplemental method, providing temporary relief and helping to manage symptoms between therapy sessions. However, for serious mental health issues, it is crucial to seek guidance from licensed mental health professionals who can provide comprehensive care and evidence-based treatments.


Tapping offers a unique and accessible way to regulate the nervous system and manage stress. Its combination of physical stimulation and psychological focus can help release emotional blockages and promote a sense of well-being. However, it is important to approach tapping with realistic expectations. While many people find it beneficial, it may not work for everyone, and it should be viewed as a complementary practice rather than a replacement for professional mental health care.

If you’re interested in exploring tapping, consider consulting with a trained EFT practitioner who can guide you through the process and ensure you’re using the technique correctly. Remember, maintaining mental health is a multifaceted journey, and tapping is just one of many tools that can support you along the way.