Three Variations On the Art of Tapping

Tapping point(by Gloria Arenson, MFT, DCEP)

Have you noticed that many practitioners have begun to create and teach variations of the instructions as acupressure tapping techniques have become more widely known and used? Sometimes I wonder if this is helpful. Is it better to keep doing acupressure tapping exactly the way we learned it or is it okay to invent variations that might get even more rapid results? I confess that I have made a few changes to the “rules” in ways that have helped my clients’ outcomes. Here are three variations that work for me.

After training in the basics of TFT and EFT, I kept to the exact instructions as I had learned them. As time passed, I noticed that many people who came for counseling had trouble saying: “I deeply and completely love and accept myself” in the set-up phrase. Some hesitated and then pushed through, although I could see from their body language that they were very uncomfortable with this thought. A few hardy souls blurted out, “But I don’t love and accept myself!” I have a feeling that some individuals didn’t make a second appointment because of their discomfort.

As I thought about this dilemma, I was in a quandary about how to handle this challenge. Should I stray from treating the presenting problems such as fear, compulsive behaviors, PTSD, or anxiety to concentrate on the issues around self-esteem? Or should we focus on what brought that client to my office in the first place?

My solution was to steer clear of putting someone in this predicament when the words deeply and completely seemed too menacing. Instead, I suggested that after stating “Even though…” and describing the troubling situation, emotion or belief, they use one of these more neutral yet encouraging phrases.

  • I am doing the best I can.
  • I am ready to let go of this problem.
  • I am now releasing this.
  • I am a good person at heart.
  • I am a child of God.
  • I am tapping about this now.
  • I am giving myself a treatment for this problem.
  • I have overcome other problems so I can overcome this too.
  • I am willing to move on.
  • I am exploring this situation now.

Ever since I introduced this option I haven’t noticed resistance from those I have treated. Clients have been able to focus on their main issue, and while finding resolution and healing as they tapped, have also experienced more self-acceptance and self-love along the way.

Another variation that has a profound positive effect during EP treatment is based on something I learned from Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s work. He maintains that in treating trauma, we need to be aware that frequently a dissociated part of someone who has been traumatized is still trapped in the worst moment of the original event, and the person sitting in our treatment room is often totally unaware of it.

I recall a woman I once counseled to treat long time sexual abuse in childhood at the hands of a family friend. During the abuse he would sometimes put her into a large trunk or box and close the lid. As we tapped she sometimes said, “… and then I died.” Her traumatized child self was stuck in that awful moment and didn’t know that she had survived, so she just kept re-living the terror.

Keeping van der Kolk’s research in mind, I now remind clients who are dealing with dreadful unhealed experiences or who have many flashbacks that whatever happened in the past is over. I suggest that they say something like this: Even though _________happened, the truth is: It is over. I survived. I am alive, and I am ready to heal and release it now. The effect is usually very positive.

The third variation results from my training in Ericksonian hypnotherapy. I have created a brief hypnotic “trick” that enables the client to gain important information to tap about. Most practitioners know that if we can help our clients discover the origin of their problem and tap about it, they will experience great success.

When sixty-year old Joseph wanted to stop procrastinating about filing his taxes, he discovered that his fear of making a mistake was stopping him. In order to help him overcome this fear I said:

“Joseph, I am going to ask you a question that your conscious mind may not know the answer to, but your unconscious mind does know. Don’t try to figure it out. When I clap my hands a number will pop into your head.”

Then, speaking very slowly, I said: “Joseph, how young were you the first time you were afraid of making a mistake?”

As soon as I clapped my hands he blurted out, “I was 7.” Then I asked what was happening when he was 7. He replied, “I was in parochial school and I will never forget the face of my teacher, Sister Marian. She was mad at me because I couldn’t learn the times tables and couldn’t get it right.”

Once he successfully tapped to heal that long ago experience he went on to complete other bigger projects that had been cluttering his home and garage.

If you use acupressure tapping methods in your practice and have invented some variations that make the outcomes even more successful, I would love to hear from you.

Gloria Arenson, MFT, DCEP

Past president, ACEP

Author, Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing, EFT For Procrastination and more

Learn more about energy psychology


  1. Gloria,
    I like your attitude regarding improvising on the original tapping formula.
    For other therapies that enhance EFT see

  2. Betsy Muller says:

    Excellent article Gloria. These are suggestions worthy of consideration. I’ve shared on Facebook to keep this discussion going.

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  3. Years ago, I noticed a trauma survivor was holding a lot of tension in her legs. Her SUDS had already gone down, but it seemed she was still holding on to something. I asked her to tap down the inside of her legs, following the kidney meridian. The aspect collapsed completely and she began to experience a deeper level of physical relaxation overall. Since then, I use this for both fear and anger, when warrented.

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