Science & Research

Featured Research: The Evidence Behind Tapping for Fears and Phobias

Written by: Nick Ortner

Fear… The pounding in the chest, the sweaty palms, the quickened breath… It is a familiar emotion that can completely take us over.

While we sometimes feel fear when we are in true danger, it’s also common to feel fear when we are under no real threat. We can feel fear when we need to speak in public, when we are at the doctor’s office, when we get on an airplane, or when we encounter a spider in our closet, for example.

And sometimes, we develop fears so intense that they can become debilitating.

It is estimated that about 12% of adults experience a specific phobia – an intense, irrational fear of something that poses no actual danger.[1] But even if someone is able to logically know that the fear is irrational, even just thinking about the thing, or seeing a photo of it, can bring about intense fear and anxiety.

Fears and phobias can be very limiting, and they can get in the way of fully living our daily lives.

So what if there was a tool that could help you overcome any fear or phobia? What if there was a science-backed approach that could help you break free from the fear for good?

There is, and it’s called Tapping! Tapping has been proven in several research studies to consistently help people with their fears and phobias.

Research confirms Tapping provides fast and lasting relief from phobias

There have been several studies done to investigate the power of Tapping on fears and phobias. 

For example, a 2011 study was conducted with 22 university students who experienced a specific phobia. The participants completed five rounds of tapping, lasting two minutes each. Before and after the Tapping, they were assessed for levels of fear and anxiety.[2]

It turns out that after just a few minutes of Tapping, the students experienced immediate relief. Their anxiety levels went down significantly, and they were also able to approach whatever it was they were afraid of with less distress. Although this was a small study, the results were quite compelling![2]

Another study looked at both the immediate and long-term effects of EFT Tapping on a specific phobia: the fear of small animals. Participants were either treated with Tapping or with diaphragmatic breathing. The EFT Tapping treatment proved to be much more effective than the diaphragmatic breathing.[3]

After just one Tapping session, the individuals in the study who received Tapping experienced a significant decrease in their fear. And what’s even more impressive is that nine months later, their fear was still diminished. In fact, the researchers believe that the benefits from Tapping were even enhanced as time went on.[3]

A replication and extension of that study was done in 2010. Again, the researchers found that Tapping led to significant reductions in the fear of small animals – a result that occurred after just one, 45-minute Tapping session. This time, they followed up with the participants almost a year-and-a-half later. And again, they found that the improvements lasted well beyond that single Tapping session.[4]

Lastly, a recent study from 2022 looked at the effects of Tapping for people with a fear of flying. The participants were instructed to do Tapping while they were presented with fear-inducing stimulation related to their fear of flying. Scores on a scale measuring the participants’ fear of flying were taken before and after.[5]

Fear of flying scores went down almost 50% after Tapping. Before the Tapping intervention, almost 90% of the participants met the official criteria for a flying phobia, but after the intervention only 24% did. That is a very impressive improvement![5]

Why is Tapping so helpful for addressing fear?

You might be wondering how Tapping works, and why it works so well when it comes to fears and phobias.

The science behind Tapping shows us that Tapping calms down the brain and body, helping to soothe the nervous system and rewire the brain. Tapping affects the part of the brain responsible for our stress response (also known as the fight-or-flight response). That is the same response that is triggered when we are scared. When you practice Tapping, it sends a calming signal to the brain letting it know it is safe to relax and that it no longer has to be in fight-or-flight mode.

That is why Tapping is so helpful when it comes to fears and phobias.

When we use the Tapping technique for fear, we think about, visualize, or speak about what we are afraid of while simultaneously Tapping on acupoints on the body. That tells our body that we are, indeed, safe… It rewires the brain’s connections, telling it that we are not in any real danger, and that it is safe to relax and let go of the fear response.

And the amazing thing about Tapping is that it can work for all different sorts of fears and phobias, whether we have a fear of flying or a spider phobia! The way Tapping works to address our fear response applies to any specific type of fear, because all fear involves a similar mechanism in the brain.

Resources for support

The research shows us that Tapping works really well for phobias. It helps people right away, and the positive results last long after the Tapping session. So if you have been affected by a strong fear or phobia that gets in the way of living a full life, then why not give it a try?

You can read more about how to use Tapping to eliminate fears and phobias in my blog, How to Calm Your Fears with EFT Tapping.

You can also read an excerpt on fear from my bestselling book, The Tapping Solution, here. 

Another great resource to support you in breaking free from phobias is The Tapping Solution App.

 In the app, you’ll have access to a wide range of guided Tapping meditations, many of which are specific to fears and phobias. Here are some you might find helpful:

  • Releasing Fear
  • From Fear and Worry to Peace
  • Fear of Flying Collection
  • Fear of Driving Collection 
  • Fear of the Dentist Collection
  • Fear of Needles Collection
  • Fear of Heights Collection
  • Fear of Public Speaking Collection
  • Releasing Fear of Criticism
  • Releasing IBS-Related Fear & Anxiety

And finally, check out these free meditations on specific topics on our website if they apply to you:

Until next time, keep Tapping!
Nick Ortner


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