Keeping Up with Scientific Knowledge About Tapping

(by David Feinstein, PhD, DCEP)

When I first learned of energy psychology in 2001, the number of peer-reviewed clinical trials published in scientific or clinical journals was 0.  Today it exceeds 120, and the total number of journal papers on energy psychology just passed 250. How does one keep up?!!! 


As many of you know, I got into energy work through marriage.  I had just returned to my family in Southern California after seven years away, serving as an instructor in psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I returned to take a position as a senior clinical psychologist for San Diego County Mental Health Services.

During my first year there, I enrolled for an evening course on bioenergetics at the UCSD Extension program, and on the first night I met another student in the course, Donna Eden. Donna claimed to be able to see energy.  But I liked her anyway, and 44 years later we continue to have rich discussions about the topic. 

Donna believed that the energies she sees carry information and exhibit intelligence. I patiently explained that all forms of energy fall on the electromagnetic spectrum and are not known to exhibit the qualities she attributed to “chakras,” “meridians,” and other fictional concepts.  

I eventually lost these arguments. While scientific evidence was still sparse, there was the empirical fact that Donna’s practice was bringing in a sizable portion of the family income.  Plus she was developing an international reputation for her effectiveness as a healer, and I was witnessing highly impressive “before” and “after” outcomes.


The biggest surprise in terms of impacting my own work was when my skeptical mind was dragged to a presentation that featured a tapping session with a middle-aged woman who had struggled with severe claustrophobia since childhood. After less than half an hour, she was able to step into a small coat closet, close the door, and come out a few minutes later smiling and feeling triumphant.  

I’d never produced such rapid results with systematic desensitization, other forms of exposure treatments, or the rest of the considerable repertoire of psychotherapeutic tools at my disposal. I became intensely curious about what had occurred, and this led me to discover that what I witnessed was not just a lucky shot but was replicable.  

Asking Tough Questions

That realization resulted in my enrolling in an EP training program taught by Fred Gallo and then incorporating the approach into my practice. But the curiosity never went away.  How can such a silly-looking procedure produce such profound outcomes?  Really!!!

Because of my academic bent, I found myself studying what other practitioners were reporting and asking the leaders in EP the same kinds of tough questions I had asked the innovators of new psychotherapies when I was part of a research team at Hopkins that was investigating innovations in psychotherapy.

Papers That Examine Energy Psychology

It’s been decades since I held an academic position. Why I continue to write academic papers is one of the great mysteries buried somewhere in my psyche.  They require tons of painstaking cloistered work.  And the sobering tongue-in-cheek statistic about such efforts is that only five people read the average journal article, and that includes the author’s mother!

Nonetheless, despite making Donna a computer widow far too much of the time, I trudge on.  And I have tackled some interesting topics.  What do we know about using acupoint tapping protocols with addictions?  Can tapping on psychological issues really help heal physical illness?  What about claims of “surrogate tapping” benefitting people who are miles away?  And how does it work anyway, that tapping on the skin changes fundamental processes in the brain?

A New Series

As these published papers have accumulated, I realized that as a set, they provide a reasonable overview of the scientific developments in the field.  It’s not because I’m a great writer, I’m not, but because for each paper I’ve published, I’ve carefully reviewed the literature bearing upon the topic, both from within EP and from broader scientific understanding.  

I wanted to make the papers more available to EP practitioners because I believe that working from a firm scientific foundation builds therapist confidence and enhances clinical effectiveness.  But everyone is busy. So we decided to summarize the papers, highlight some of the most important points, and then link to the full paper.  And rather than hit everyone with all 10 papers, we decided to release one a month.  

New Study: How Tappers See Tapping

The first article just came out, “How Tappers See Tapping,” examining the reports of more than 800 practitioners and clients who participated in 15 studies based on interviews or online surveys.

Continue to a Summary of that Study and a Link to the Entire Paper

Check out a full list of energy psychology studies on ACEP’s web site:

David Feinstein, PhD, DCEP, is a clinical psychologist. He has received nine national awards for his books on consciousness and energy healing, which include The Promise of Energy Psychology (co-author) and Personal Mythology. David has also published 80+ articles. He is an internationally recognized leader in the field of energy psychology.David has served on the faculty of The Johns Hopkins Medical School and, with his wife, Donna Eden, directs the world’s largest organization teaching energy medicine

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