Tap away that anxiety


About 15 years ago, Akcelina Cvijetic, an events organiser, consulted a therapist about the chronic anxiety she was feeling after a traumatic experience some years before. ‘I was deeply distressed and crying. The therapist asked me to tap on certain points on my head, hand and chest in a sequence. She told me to repeat the sequence until I calmed down.’ Taken aback, Akcelina told her that ‘with all due respect, I hadn’t come here to be told to tap, tap, tap…’


A few minutes later, however, she stopped crying and found she was no longer overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety. ‘In fact, I could not retrieve those emotions. I was able to dissociate myself from them completely and finally.’ The therapist explained that the tapping technique is called thought field therapy (TFT) and was developed by a psychologist, the late Dr Roger Callahan, from the ancient Chinese principle of acupressure.


TFT seems almost too simple to have such a powerful effect but I have found it extraordinarily effective


TFT seems almost too simple to have such a powerful effect but I have found it extraordinarily effective


Early in his career, Dr Callahan became dissatisfied with the results of traditional psychotherapy and decided to look for a more effective treatment. After much research, he formulated TFT, in which the patient is instructed to tap acupressure points in a precise sequence (or algorithm) while thinking of the specific feeling that troubled them, such as anxiety, anger, grief, fear of flying, trauma or compulsion, and some types of physical pain. There are different sequences for each.

In the 1990s, a simpler version of TFT was launched called emotional freedom technique (EFT), which combines a single tapping sequence with affirmations.


Akcelina was so impressed with TFT that she decided to train with Dr Callahan and now works as a wellbeing therapist and life coach. TFT is a key part of her armamentarium, with neuro-linguistic programming, hypnotherapy and nutrition. (I highly recommend Akcelina; you can find more information and contact details at akcelina.com, as well as a tapping sequence for general anxiety.)


TFT seems almost too simple to have such a powerful effect but I, too, have found it extraordinarily effective. I met Gloria Thomas, the same therapist Akcelina consulted, in 2007, and she helped me through a difficult time using TFT. Then, in the way one does, I forgot about it until I met Akcelina earlier this year. I was feeling nervous about organising a big semi-public event. Akcelina had me tapping away the feeling and told me to repeat the sequence every time I felt shaky. In the spring, when I was seized with acute anxiety after a terrifying moment with a sick family member, I again found TFT dispelled the negative feelings.


Although there is research to show the effectiveness of TFT in disaster zones, the medical establishment is mostly sceptical about the claims. I can only tell you that it works for me, is low cost, noninvasive and you can do it anywhere.