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Maple tree with sunbeams

If there is one thing that I have learned from my own healing journey and the experience of working with thousands of patients over the past twelve years, it is that we all carry emotional baggage and limiting beliefs which contribute to our physical health problems. It is very clear to me that unless these underlying emotional dynamics are addressed, any resolution of the physical problem will be temporary at best.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Master Lindsay Kenny has developed a model she calls the Tapping Tree. “Tapping” refers to gentle finger pressure that is applied to the ends of acupuncture meridians in order to clear emotional issues. The Tapping Tree provides a model for addressing approaching health problems with EFT, but I have also found that is useful as a simple illustration of how various levels of emotional issues and beliefs contribute to health problems.

The Tapping Tree (used with permission from

Take a look at the diagram of the tree above. There are four components any tree — the leaves, branches, trunk, and roots.

The leaves represent symptoms. Symptoms could include pain, headaches, insomnia, allergies, side effects from drugs, etc. Basically any complaint that might prompt you to go to the doctor or seek help.

The branches represent emotions about the symptoms. Any health problem, particular when it is chronic, causes an emotional response. Common emotional responses to health problems include fear, frustration, aggravation, grief, sadness, anxiety, depression, or anger.

The trunk of the tree represents events related to the health problem. There are two types of events that might be involved — the cause of the problem (for example a car accident or illness) and the diagnosis (for example when you were told that you have a herniated disc and will eventually need surgery).

The roots, which represent limiting beliefs, are the part of the tree that many people find most difficult to identify initially. Limiting beliefs include things like “all men in my family have bad backs”, “I can never lose weight”, “I have the worst allergies my doctor has ever seen”, “I have a degenerating spine and even a minor car accident could paralyze me”.