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ANXIETY: Acupuncture tapping points

ANXIETY: Acupuncture tapping points

At the edge of the pool, Mary started splashing her face with water. This was extraordinary as Mary was undergoing treatment for her fear of water with psychologist Roger Callahan.  

The year was 1979 and Dr Callahan had been experimenting with acupuncture points from Chinese Traditional Medicine when treating his psychology clients.

In his therapy session with Mary, Dr Callahan tapped an acupuncture point on Mary’s face. To Dr Callahan’s complete surprise, this addition of tapping on an acupuncture point dramatically lifted Mary’s fear of water to the extent that she had the urge to rush out to the nearby pool on the clinic grounds and splash water on her face.

It was an ah-ha moment for Dr Callahan. After that treatment session with Mary, Dr Callahan changed his career direction to focus on this uncanny technique that he had stumbled upon, mixing both western psychology and acupuncture.

The tapping for anxiety has been simplified to simple 7 steps below:



  1. Rate your level of anxiety on a scale from 0 to10, with 10 being maximum discomfort
  2. Set up statements of self-acceptance, stating the problems/fears/anxiety you experience followed by stating acceptance of yourself e.g. Even though I am anxious feeling, I completely accept myself anyway.
  3. Reminder phrase ‘this anxiety/fear/problem e.g. this anxiety’
  4. Tap or massage acupuncture point (SI3)—using the karate chop section of your hand—whilst repeating the self-acceptance statement in step 2
  5. Move to the other points on the tapping diagram, tapping these points while repeating the reminder phrase ‘this anxiety/fear/problem’ Start with eyebrow BL2, side of the eye GB1, under the eye ST2, under the nose GV27, chin dip CV24, collarbone KD27, under arm SP19, top of the head GV20
  6. Repeat the tapping of all the points 2 to 3 times
  7. Now rate your level of anxiety from 0 to 10.

So why does tapping on these acupuncture points work?

It is thought that irrational fears are housed in our reptile brain (Basal Ganglia), the part of the brain responsible for the fight and flight response to danger. This reptile or primal part of the brain produces automatic, self-preserving behaviour that ensures our survival.

Irrational anxiety is an example of our reptile brain hijacking our rational brain (Neocortex); therefore, it is nearly impossible to rationally look at irrational anxiety or fear because your rational brain is not in control—your reptile brain is in control.

Acupuncture is effective in shifting our focus from our reptile primal brain to our rational brain. Actively thinking of the problem/fear/anxiety combined with the tapping of the points brings the problem/fear/anxiety into our rational brain to deal with in a rational manner.

Tapping acupuncture points does not replace psychology therapy or treatments form your general partitioner. However, it is a great tool for working on your anxiety between acupuncture sessions.

Acupuncture points used in anxiety tapping (BL2, GB1, ST2, GV27, CV24, KI27, LV14, SP19, LU1, LI1, PC9, HT9, SI4, TW3)