Inspiration

Research: Burned-out Teachers Feel Like New with EFT

Written by: Nick Ortner

Does tapping on the correct acupressure points really make a difference? These studies say they do – and helped teachers recharge themselves in the process.

In the world of psychology, EFT Tapping has received its share of criticism from those practicing cognitive and exposure therapies.

The main critique is one that is sometimes referred to as “The Purple Hat Fallacy,” where a therapist works with a client using a particular practice while wearing a purple hat, and then attributes the client’s progress to the hat rather than to the therapy.

The element of Tapping that has been most frequently called into question is the acupressure points. This is quite possibly because there’s been only a few studies examining this one element as a critical component of Tapping’s effectiveness.

Two recently published “dismantling studies” (studies that zoom in on one aspect of a treatment by giving a control group a substitution) have kicked off the conversation.

Both studies isolated the effectiveness of the acupressure points by teaching a sham Tapping method to control groups, and both resulted in the test group’s symptoms being reduced significantly more than the control group’s. In other words, tapping on random points of the body had little effect when compared to using the specific accupressure points described in standardized tapping therapy.

The Next Step – Tapping for Tired Teachers

This paper’s author, Anne Reynolds, wanted to continue the focus of those two studies using a larger group of participants and focusing on a new context.

Specifically, she wanted to find out whether Tapping could be an effective tool to reduce burnout in public school teachers.

Burnout is a serious and widespread issue in public education, and proposed programs to remedy the issue have been too expensive for most districts to implement.

After an exhaustive search, Reynolds discovered EFT. If Tapping were effective in this context, she mused, it could mean an inexpensive and accessible solution to teacher burnout, having a highly positive impact on public education.

A veteran teacher herself, Reynolds used the The EFT Manual by EFT’s developer, Gary Craig, to design the instruction component. She then created her study using established tools that measure teacher burnout, which has three components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (a feeling of being detached from what’s happening around you), and professional accomplishment.

The tool measured numerous aspects of the three components using a scale of 0-6, similar to the scale used in assessing the intensity of symptom or emotional changes in Tapping.

The researcher worked with 126 full-time public school teachers in Illinois over a 4-week period. She wanted to make sure the control and the test groups did not mix, so she chose teachers from six different districts with similar demographics.

76 teachers from the test group and 47 from the control group completed the entire protocol. Both groups were provided with the exact same protocol with one exception: the control group was taught a “sham” method of Tapping that didn’t engage the proper acupressure points.

All participants agreed to tap every day for four weeks and then fill out another assessment form. They were also instructed to write in a journal about their experiences with Tapping, noting if they felt any changes throughout the study

No Purple Hat Here

What were the results?

The test group participants (using the proper acupressure points) experienced a significant reduction in burnout in all three areas: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and professional accomplishment.

The control group (using the sham acupressure points) had a reduction in emotional exhaustion but not as great as the test group. The control group showed no significant changes in the other two areas.

Reynolds suggests that the physical component of the sham Tapping might have produced some soothing in the control group’s emotional exhaustion. She also notes that the final assessments for the control group happened just before winter break, which could have influenced participants’ sense of relief of emotional exhaustion.

Overall, Reynolds’ study provided the first look at EFT for teacher burnout AND added to the growing pile of convincing evidence that Tapping works as well as it does because of the specific acupressure points it utilizes. The study was also significant because of the large number of participants and the use of a control group.

I hope to see more of these types of studies continue because they’re proving what I already know to be true – Tapping works! 😊

Until next time,

Keep Tapping!

Nick Ortner


Do you sometimes feel burned out? Have you tried Tapping? Comment below.



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3 Comments on this post

  1. Theresa says:

    I saw a video on tapping in December and implemented it almost immediately in my first grade classroom. I saw amazing results almost right away and found myself doing more and more research. We tap often in my room, together as a group and individually as we need to and I can’t say enough about the experience. Working in a title 1 school, the socio-economic challenges present themselves often. Kids come to school weighed down by life and in a way I could never understand or relate to. They are angry, frustrated and have little self-love…let alone know their worth. How could I teach them academic material if they aren’t in a space of learning?
    The response in my classroom has been so wonderful that I shared the technique with my colleagues at a faculty meeting. The response from teachers was overwhelmingly positive! Now I am working with classroom teachers and their students on a daily basis giving tapping “lessons”. I am so excited for what this could mean to our school!
    Any research in the areas of tapping used in an educational setting as well as videos that I could forward along would be so helpful. I am so eager to take advantage of the openness of my fellow teachers while I have it. I would also love any advice you have on how to implement it’s use with staff members, as mentioned in this article. The stress level in our district is at an all time high and I think using this tool for ourselves could be so beneficial.
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  2. Karen says:

    Yes we need to be more positive towards ourselves and others.I cry a few tears and feel better.

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