What is Tapping (A.K.A The Emotional Freedom Technique)?
The Emotional Freedom Technique, also commonly referred to as “tapping” is a pseudo-psychiatric therapy which claims to aid in helping to reduce many negative psychological and physical problems. Rooted in acupuncture, tapping falls under the larger umbrella of “energy psychology” or “energy medicine” – however, to call it psychology or medicine would be an egregious misnomer, as it lacks the scientific proof of efficacy that would be required to be considered such.
The foundations of EFT is a product of “Thought Field Therapy” which according to the American Psychological Association, lacks a scientific basis. The claims that tapping specific points on your body can realign your energy meridians is unfounded and unsupported by scientific research. Similar results can be attained with meditation, thoughtfulness training, and cognitive behavioral therapy (the last of which is much more scientifically documented to produce results).
How Does Emotional Freedom Technique/Tapping Work?
Unfortunately, there are two answers to this question, theoretical and realistic. First, the theoretical:
During an ETF / tapping session, the “therapist” attempts to manipulate the body’s energy field by tapping acupuncture points to alter, manipulate, or otherwise modify the meridians in which specific psychological or physiological traumas are based.
Realistically, however, the answer to “how does tapping therapy work” is simply, it doesn’t work any more than a placebo according to studies done on the EFT method. Practitioners of this methodology are using a commonly accepted psychological phenomenon to help their “patients” feel better in a similar way that homeopathic supplement supporters “cure” or “treat” individuals with sugar pills.
Does Emotional Freedom Technique Work?
No more than a similarly administered placebo.
Does Tapping Work Or Provide An Advantage Over Traditional Treatment?
There are no longitudinal scientific studies which suggest that tapping is a more effective way to treat, cure, or minimize psychological or physical issues in the long term than other treatments. Studies which operate on a one-off basis are unable to account for a return to baseline after the novelty of the placebo is over. Further, one would wonder, depending upon the severity of the condition, if the underlying situation would become worse by opting for temporary and unhelpful treatment. Further, the amount of time that one dedicates to tapping could be filled with alternative activities such as stretching, taking a walk outdoors, or literally anything else.
Why Do People Advocate For EFT & Tapping?
There indeed are plenty of advocates of the Emotional Freedom Technique (after all, similar to homeopathy, which has a national foundation based in Arlington Virginia) there is money to be made in peddling placebos. A search on YouTube reveals hundreds of videos of proponents of EFT attempting to help treat a wide range of problems including but not limited to:
- Weight Loss
- Food Cravings
- Lack Of Body Confidence
- Low Energy/Fatigue
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Knee Pain
- “Toxins” in the Liver
- Spiritual Awakening
- Acid Reflux
- Panic Attacks
- PMS Symptoms
- Shame Related To Abuse
- And a personal favorite: Not Having $50,000
Furthermore, the number of claims that you can use the emotional freedom technique to help others (by tapping on your own acupuncture points, not theirs) is completely absurd. Despite thousands of subscribers to these various Youtube channels, membership-based websites, and other online communities there has yet to be a shred of scientifically backed evidence to support claims that this “therapy” can help with any of the above.
But Why Would Someone Lie About The Efficacy Of Tapping?
There’s plenty of reasons why someone would lie about tapping being able to help people with their illnesses. Here are just a few potential reasons (keeping in mind, it is often a combination of reasons):
Likely the most common and most evil of motivators of self-proclaimed “tapping experts.” In a similar vein as someone who “wants to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.” Except, it is arguably worse. Someone who falls for buying a bridge from a con-artist is at least driven by money and wealth. People who turn to “tapping therapy” typically are seeking relief from severe problems (except for the ‘tapping for money’ crowd, which is a whole different issue entirely).
A sympathetic person, when presented with someone who in confidence is seeking a solution to low self-esteem, emotional trauma, depression, or other maladies would express commiseration with the person suffering. A greedy sociopath, on the other hand, sees such suffering as an opportunity to extract capital. Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of proponents of this “therapy” technique fall into the latter of those two groups. read further on in this article to understand how much money can be made, per hour, by ‘parting fools from their money.’
Fear Of Exclusion
Let’s imagine just for a moment that you have just uncovered an earth-shattering secret that, if revealed, would make you lose your friends, cause family members to disown you, and potentially give you gout (just kidding about that last one, but it seems close enough to fit).
Even though you want nothing more than to reveal that secret, which could make so many lives better, you might not tell anyone because of the incredible suppressing effect that the fear of exclusion presses upon it.
In the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the emperor walks the streets without clothes, fooled by people who sold him an outfit that was only invisible by those who are “stupid or incompetent.” Similarly, when it comes to communities of individuals who practice EFT or tapping therapy, one must wonder if fear of exclusion, combined with the shame of being potentially seen as foolish is one of the driving forces behind its continued prevalence.
Mental illness can undoubtedly have an impact on one’s worldview. If someone legitimately believes that you can perform a tapping treatment on your own body and it will work as a “surrogate” treatment for someone else’s mental woes, solely because of a mental disorder, then it is difficult not to feel a level of empathy. Further, if someone seeking relief from their depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc., etc. does get a benefit from the placebo effect, it would be difficult to convince them otherwise, as legitimate mental illness is complicated to diagnose and treat.
Of course, we certainly recognize, just like with homeopathy, the relief that a placebo can offer is not to be ignored. There is a real biological process that occurs when your brain is tricked into thinking that you’re taking a medicine or doing something that can help improve your well-being. If someone tries EFT, feels temporary relief, and accepts that as definitive proof that the guru that is selling their time, videos, courses, or other goods is an expert at anything besides sales… well, that’s just gullibility. Further, the fear of being seen as a fool after spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on classes or certifications undoubtedly contributes to an unwillingness to renounce the practice.
The only thing worse than someone who is gullible is someone who is willfully ignorant. Regardless of the implications of the placebo effect, doing a quick search on Google and looking for reputable sources of information on efficacy is something that could take literally a few seconds. One hopes that the willingness to remain fooled will decrease as internet access and literacy rates increase, however, we’re not holding our breath.
Who Claims Tapping Works?
When it comes down to it, the reasons for promoting pseudoscience depends mostly upon the person. And to avoid making broad-stroke judgments or misrepresenting anyone’s situation or rationality for their actions, in the following section, I will only be naming a few individuals with as much research as I can find on them.
Considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the Emotional Freedom Technique, from 2005 – 2010 operated emofree.com, which was the “official” EFT resource. In 2010, he announced his retirement. Part of that retirement letter noted the 2 million dollars he had spent in developing the “educational stream” during that period. However, one would wonder if that money included the various lawsuits or discounted the revenue generated from certification programs, speaking fees, and other profitable activities. The certification page on emofree.com consists of a price tag of $10,000 with a $100 application fee. Assuming even 200 people received such a certification, the money invested into marketing creating the EFT system would be nullified.
What is horrifying is the bald-faced comparison of their certification to an 8-year Stanford degree program which is so absurd, it is borderline comical. Gary might know what a Stanford education consists of, but it seems sales, not engineering was his calling.
Jessica Ortner & Nick Ortner (The Tapping Solution)
Jessica Ortner and Nick Ortner of The Tapping Solution appear to earn revenue from book sales, selling positions in their directory of EFT practitioners, as well as referral revenue from certifications and tapping classes. By managing to land media coverage on various news outlets, the Doctor Oz show, and other appearances, they’ve built a following for themselves from the same gullible, but well-meaning folks to who think Dr. Oz is not a quack despite recently endorsing astrology.
Brad Yates: “Tapping With Brad Yates”
Brad Yates is a tapping guru who produces videos for his audiences on social media channels like YouTube and Facebook. Interestingly, he also takes advantage of affiliate marketing to promote his products, offering 50% commission per sale to anyone willing to promote his books.
Brad’s site also mentions personal coaching sessions and public speaking events. A quick check for the ticket price suggests he charges just under $150 to attend, and for individual private sessions, he charges $425 (also available in monthly packages with four sessions per month with:
- Six months: $7,200
- Three months: $3,900
- One month: $1,500
Further, there is a subscription service to his video library which costs $17 per month. We’d recommend getting an Amazon Prime subscription with that money instead.
Fun fact: while attempting to clean up the content on this website (the previous publisher was republishing Youtube videos and comments) a Brad Yates video was included. We have since redirecting any page that previously featured his videos to this one in an attempt to be transparent.
Dr. Joseph Mercola
Dr. Mercola has built a following by contributing to the general public’s distrust of vaccines, promoting pseudoscientific treatments for illnesses, and other scientifically questionable advice. It was reported that in 2010, his website generated $7 million in supplement sales, which does not include revenue from his publications, including his books. Interestingly, Mercola has managed to receive 3 FDA warnings for his promotion of products.
Dr. Joshua Axe (not a medical doctor) operates a highly trafficked website which generates revenue from the sale of supplements (including one which supposedly detoxifies your body with clay) and advertising revenue. He appears on the Dr. Oz show frequently and has made questionable claims regarding the causes of cancer.
& Many More
Creating an exhaustive list of notable EFT proponents would be nearly impossible as it seems many celebrities, quacks, and entrepreneurs have jumped on the bandwagon in an attempt to make money from the suffering or sheer gullibility of others. The truth is, the medical community ought to be more vocal and frequent in their condemnation of claims of the efficacy of “energy therapy” and other junk science.
If you are suffering from a condition such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder or any of the other health problems that tapping gurus claim to solve, we highly encourage you to speak to a qualified physician about your condition. Trusting Youtube videos published by self-proclaimed experts, “light-workers,” or people with other bogus credentials is something that can only be attributed to the over-trusting nature of people who don’t know any better.