5-Step EFT Tapping for Anxiety

EFT Tapping for Anxiety
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

With stress on the rise for both kids and adults, we all need tools that can reduce it that work effectively and are natural. EFT tapping is an evidence-based therapy that can quickly reduce anxious thoughts and sensations. 

What is Tapping?


EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is an evidence-based alternative healing method for reducing stress and anxiety. It is based on shared principles between ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.

It is a simple technique that uses tapping along meridians combined with statements that disarm negative thought patterns and beliefs. 

Using your fingertips, you can tap your face, head, and neck while relaxing and focusing on addressing a specific discomfort to reduce stress and anxiety.

Clinical trials around the world have shown EFT to decrease the presence of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. This applies to all gender and ages. It is definitely suitable for calming down school-age children who are having anxiety in the classroom. 

Compounded stressors can easily build and lead to clinical mental health issues. There is a need for mental health solutions besides psychiatric medications and talk therapy and EFT has been shown to reduce symptoms in several mental health conditions.

Stress Leads to More Serious Health Problems


World Health Organization (WHO) considers stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. It is linked to weight gain, sleep problems, lack of motivation, chronic pain, and stomach issues. 

The pandemic most certainly has increased stress amongst families as parenting just became so much harder. 

Excessive stress can develop into chronic mental disorders such as anxiety disorders or depression. Once the nervous system goes into a “rev state”, it gets stuck in fight, flight, or freeze, there has to be a physical or mental impact. The body and brain can't live in overdrive, yet we think we can. 

The study of the impact of stress on the immune system, psychoimmunology, shows us that stress lowers your body's ability to fight off infection and makes you susceptible to illness. However, by learning how to tap into your body's stress-relieving mechanisms, you can lower your stress levels and boost your immune system.

EFT Tapping Points

So How Does EFT Work?


The EFT Tapping technique is an extraordinary way to focus on and release negative emotions because it is simple, accessible, and effective.

EFT can help reduce fears, worries, or any unresolved problems without the use of psychiatric medication and just about anyone can do it. To use this technique, simply tap in rounds of three on nine specific meridian points in the body while focusing on negative emotion. This process is repeated until stressful thoughts and sensations are reduced. This will release anxious feelings and get you on your way to resolving the issue holding you back. 

Tapping on energy pathways releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, which reduce anxiety levels, so a few minutes of tapping can relax you in a stressful situation. We always think that there is only one way to impact neurotransmitters but there are many techniques and lifestyle hacks that can impact how our neurotransmitters work. 

Meridian points are like emergency brakes for the brain. Tapping them sends a message to the brain that everything is okay and it can relax. This can be helpful when we get bad news or start to worry about something in the future. They can also be a powerful way to release stress that is held in the body that creates physical tension and pain.

Fight or Flight Response


When someone cuts you off the highway, and you have to swerve to avoid a collision, your body's natural fight, flight, or freeze response is triggered. This is your sympathetic nervous system's reaction to danger and was designed to help you survive emotional distress and life-threatening situations.

The stress response is triggered by the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for detecting and responding to threats. When the amygdala detects a threat, it sends a signal to the hypothalamus, which triggers the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream. This “fight-or-flight” response is the body's natural reaction to perceived danger. In some cases, the body “freezes” or shuts down in response to danger.

The problem is, our amygdala takes charge way more often than we want in these stressful times.

As hunter-gatherers, humans developed the fight or flee response to survive real-life danger. The same strength becomes a weakness when you want to feel confident and collected during high-stakes meetings. We no longer have to fight or flee but negotiate and compromise. 

However, our bodies have not fully adapted to modern times where stress is all around us.There are no tigers in the woods, yet your body is still prepared for combat. And once in this “rev state” unless you counter that stress, the body gets stuck in overdrive. 

That is when stress turns into clinical conditions such as anxiety, OCD, depression, and physical issues such as autoimmune diseases.

Fight or Flight Response

There are many ways being in a sympathetic dominant overdrive shows up,  but when we are fight or flight, behaviors and symptoms can be difficult to get under control.

  • Blunt physical pain response is compromised
  • Dilated pupils
  • Memories can be affected
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Rapid heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • You're on the edge
  • You're tense or trembling
  • Your bladder might be affected

EFT Lowers Stress 


If you're feeling stressed, try tapping on these pressure points to reduce uncomfortable sensations and negative thoughts. It leans on the same principles as acupressure and can help your mind understand that there is no physical danger. This lowers your cortisol levels and allows you to physically relax. 

Acupressure is a 5,000-year-old Chinese healing method that involves breaking up the energy blockages in your body. 

The same meridian points acupuncturists use to heal pain and reduce stress are also used in EFT, but tapping those acupressure points on yourself can be easily done at home. 

Thinking of the stressful situation while tapping the relevant points makes the brain understand that it is safe to relax and that any danger is only a perceived threat.

Tapping allows you to live your life in a new way without being so tied to negative ruminations. The process brings a greater sense of ease and balance.

Chinese Medicine and Stress 


Stress impacts all aspects of your health. Studies show that stress weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and disease states. 

No one is immune to stress and it affects everyone's brain and body. We especially need to be especially concerned about how stress affects the developing brain of children. Fortunately, there are effective ways to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

EFT is grounded in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principles. Tapping restores the balance between yin and yang, and fosters the flow of qi, which balances the nervous system.

Research in the field of psychoimmunology shows us that disturbances in the Yin-Yang dynamical balance may result in stress, inflammation, and clinical issues including anxiety, insomnia, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, skin disorders, and cancer (Yan, 2018).

It is clear that stress affects how our brain and body functions and there is a relationship between compounded stressors and chronic disease states, such as Lyme Disease, autoimmune disease, and mental health conditions. “At the molecular and cellular levels, the imbalances in the cytokine pathways, mitochondria networks, redox systems, and various signaling pathways may contribute to systemic inflammation” (Yan, 1018). 

The relationship between inflammation in the body and brain has long been established. Stress impacts both inflammation and the health of our microbiome, both of which impact mental health. Lifestyle factors such as nutrition, exercise and stress management can have a hugely positive impact on mental wellness.

The simple technique of EFT Tapping that combines the ancient wisdom of the body's acupressure points with modern psychology techniques helps restore your body's natural state of balance by allowing your body to create antibodies that fight off antigens more efficiently, as well as reduce stress.

Is There Scientific Evidence of Tapping's Effectiveness?


Years of clinical trials and sharing information have produced evidence on the effectiveness of tapping in achieving lasting change. EFT is gaining popularity as more and more people experience its benefits firsthand. 

We've collected quite a few of these research studies, and here are a few noteworthy findings:

Tapping regulates the nervous system and boosts the immune system by easing the body into a state of relaxation. The nervous system and immune system work together to keep the body in a state of balance. Putting the nervous system in a parasympathetic response allows the immune, digestive, reproductive, and endocrine systems to function properly. 

Reducing stress also regulates cortisol levels in the body. This reduction boosts your body's ability to fight inflammation and powers your immune system.

Traditionally, doctors have used talk therapy and medication to lower cortisol levels in the body. 

In 2012, Dr. Dawson Church published a Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease study that found EFT Tapping more effective than traditional talk therapy or resting in reducing stress hormones like cortisol.  

What's the History Behind Tapping?

In the early 1980s, Roger Callahan, a psychologist interested in traditional Chinese medicine, developed a new therapy. He integrated his study of traditional Chinese medicine with his psychological knowledge to create a new approach to healing. This method proved effective for many patients and continues to be used today.

Dr. Roger Callahan began developing a new treatment for psychological disorders called Thought Field Therapy (TFT). TFT was based on stimulating specific points in the body to relieve various psychological conditions. Though initial studies showed promising results, the therapy was fairly complex and required trained practitioners to use specific algorithms and techniques to be effective.

Gary Craig trained under Dr. Callahan's tutelage in the 1990s and mastered the procedures for TFT. He began to optimize the process by creating a more straightforward sequence. Eventually, Gary developed a simpler version of TFT that can be easily learned and used by anyone and called it Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT.

EFT is a process that helps people to release emotions that may be causing problems in their lives. 

More recently, the Ortner siblings, Nick, Alex, and Jessica, have developed a way to make the ancient practice of Tapping Meditation accessible to everyone. Tapping Meditation is a simple yet powerful technique that can be done in the comfort of your own home. This process can help you to relax and de-stress.

The spread of tapping has reached medical associations around the world, leading to multiple clinical trials that have documented its evidence-based effectiveness and success stories. Ortner's book, The Tapping Solution, is a big part of why so many have found EFT tapping. You can learn more about EFT tapping and how Dr. Roseann learned about tapping on this episode of The Parent Coffee Talk. 

Doctors are increasingly recommending tapping as a treatment for a variety of conditions and particularly to remediate stress.

So How Does EFT Works?

The tapping session works by focusing on a negative sensation, thought or emotion while tapping at least three times on the nine specific meridian points of the body. You can use a worry, fear or any unresolved issue that affects you at the moment to tap on.

For example, if your child got upset about a disagreement with their sibling, it triggers a part of your sympathetic nervous system called the amygdala. Your fight or flight response is activated and one is activated.

The basic EFT Tapping set up is:

  • Pick one issue, thought, or stressor to tap on
  • Check on your level of distress (SUDS) on a scale from 0 to 10
  • Tap for three rounds on the 9 points
  • Check on your level of distress (SUDS) again
  • If not under a 3, then do another three rounds on the 9 points
  • Check on your level of distress (SUDS) again
  • Continue until you regulate your nervous system and reduce stress to a comfortable level

When getting started, it doesn't matter if you use one hand or two, as tapping along the meridians is the most important part. 

With children, you can tap on your child until their stress is lowered or you can tap together. It might be easier for some kids to tap on one point and stay with one point or add one at a time.  

The way tapping works is that you tap on your meridian points to send a calming signal to the brain, letting your brain know it's safe and you can relax. It works to calm the emotional center of the brain, the limbic system and more specifically the amygdala.

5-Step EFT Tapping

Tapping is an effective anxiety release technique that can be done anywhere, especially in stressful situations, to foster self-love and restore calm. This 9-minute method can reduce anxiety scores by 41% on average.

Quick Guide for EFT Tapping Anxiety Relief

  • Find a place to relax – this could be your bedroom or a quiet corner of your home or office. Now, close your eyes and picture a white light radiating energy.
  • Statement setup – whenever you begin EFT Tapping, it's helpful to start with a setup statement. This is a positive and honest statement about how you felt during the tapping.
  • Always start by tapping on the karate chop point while saying the setup statement to yourself. This sets you up for success with the rest of your tapping process and gets you in a mindset, to be honest about how you feel.
  • Start tapping while focusing on how you feel or on the problem. Doing this sends a calming message to your brain, allowing you to think about the situation without feeling emotional distress in your body.
  • When you feel better, you can improve your mood by shifting your mental focus into more empowering thoughts. Continuing with EFT tapping helps to move you forward and reinforce positive thinking.

Just as you need to weed a garden before planting seeds, you have to release the intensity of negative emotions before more positive ones can take root. So be patient with yourself as you move through.

Take time everyday to do at least three rounds of EFT Tapping, because your brain can't calm until you give it relief.

Complete EFT Sequence

Look into your source of emotional discomfort and your anxiety score from 0 to 10, with zero being a state of pure calm and ten being the most intense anxiety.

Compose a set-up statement that acknowledges your source of discomfort, followed by a phrase of self-acceptance and self-assurance.

Short phrases examples:

“Even though I am fearful and anxious, I accept my feelings.”

“I am fearful about my interview, but I am doing my best. And I fully accept myself.”

“Even though I worry about my financial situation, I honor my feelings and give my body permission to relax.”

Get ready to begin tapping and watch your stress melt!

Begin by tapping the Karate Chop point on your other hand with four fingers. The Karate Chop point is located on the outer edge of the hand, opposite the thumb.

State your set-up statement three times while tapping the Karate Chop point. You may slightly vary your statement as you progress to calmer states.

Take a deep breath.

Now, gently tap at least three times each on the nine energy points. 

  • Karate Chop
  • Eyebrow Point l(EB)
  • Side of Eye (SE)
  • Under Eye (UE)
  • Under Nose (UN)
  • Chin Point (CP)
  • Collarbone Point (CB)
  • Under Arm (UA)
  • Top of Head (TH)

As you tap on each point, utter a simple phrase, such as “my anxiety” or “my situation.”

Take deep breaths.

Now that you've completed the sequence, refocus on your problem. 

  • What's your anxiety score on a scale of 0 to 10? 
  • Did you notice a shift after completing the breathing sequence? 
  • How does it now compare to how you felt before the method?

Try tapping through the sequence again if your anxiety scores are still higher than 3. Keep going until the anxiety symptoms subsides. You may revise your reminder phrase to consider your desire for continued progress.

EFT Tapping setup statement examples:

“Even though I still have panic attacks, I accept my imperfections and choose to release my burden.”

“Even though I'm still fearful about this interview, I deeply and completely accept myself.” 

Now that you have dealt with your anxiety, you can focus on creating positive feelings. 

This approach of accepting yourself and your feelings is much different from traditional “positive thinking,” where people try to hide their negative emotions with fake positivity.

The point of the affirmations is to flip the script in one's head of negative thinking that holds us back. When we voice these ruminations out loud, we are able to challenge them. You're not trying to obscure the stress with a veneer of insincere affirmations. 

Instead, you've acknowledged the anxiety and its corresponding negative emotions, offering deep and complete acceptance to your feelings and yourself.

Just like in traditional Chinese medicine, you have accepted your Yin and Yang. You've acknowledged the anxiety and its corresponding negative emotions, offering deep and complete acceptance of your feelings and yourself.

Here are 7 Affirmations For Your Wellbeing

“I am enough.”

“I have faith in my dreams, myself, and all that I am.”

“I love myself for who I am.”

“I create my own happiness.”

“My life is filled with abundance.”

“I will turn my challenges into opportunities.”

“I am beautiful just the way I am.”

You can say these affirmations with the same tapping sequence described above.

Final EFT Treatment Tips:

Apply a firm but gentle pressure. You can use four fingers on wider areas, and two can be used on sensitive parts.

You can tap one or both sides of the body. The meridian points are symmetrical.

Jump in and get started. It can only work if you do it. 

Hooray! You've completed your first EFT session.


Tapping has been shown to help with various issues like relationships, finances, weight, pain, fears, and more. Many workshops specialize in using EFT and affirmations to cultivate goals in specific aspects of our life. 

As an integrative mental health expert and EFT practitioner, Dr. Roseann recommends EFT to address fear, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and related mental health challenges. 

Tapping has helped war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. After years of advocacy, Tapping has been accepted by the US Veterans Administration as a recommended treatment. 

The NGO Project Light is using tapping to help genocide survivors.


Cleaveland Clinic (2022), What Happens to Your Body During the Fight or Flight Response?https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-to-your-body-during-the-fight-or-flight-response

The Tapping Solutions (2022), Tapping 101

Healthline (2022), EFT Tapping 

The Tapping Solution Foundation (2022)

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen? 

Dr. Roseann and her team are all about solutions, so you are in the right place! 

There are 3 ways to work with Dr. Roseann: 


You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.

If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s media page and professional speaking page to see how we can work together. 

Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Licensed Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including The Mel Robbins Show, CBS, NBC, PIX11 NYC, Today, FORBES, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Women’s Day, Healthline, CNET, Parade Magazine and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She coined the terms, “Re-entry panic syndrome” and “eco-anxiety” and is a frequent contributor to media on mental health. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has three decades of experience in working with children, teens and their families with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, concussion, dyslexia and learning disability, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and mood disorder, Lyme Disease, and PANS/PANDAS using science-backed natural mental health solutions such as supplements, magnesium, nutrition, QEEG Brain maps, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy and other non-medication approaches. 

She is the author of three bestselling books, It’s Gonna Be OK!: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child's Mental Health, The Teletherapy Toolkit, and Brain Under Attack. Dr. Roseann is known for offering a message of hope through science-endorsed methods that promote a calm brain. 

Her trademarked BrainBehaviorResetⓇ Program and It’s Gonna be OK!Ⓡ Podcast has been a cornerstone for thousands of parents facing mental health, behavioral or neurodevelopmental challenges.

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, Neurotastic™Brain Formulas and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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