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Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) May Look Weird, but If It Gets the Job Done, Do We Care?

19 Jun

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a short-term, behavioral therapy that helps people counter anxiety and their own limiting beliefs, in order to make positive changes. It requires no deep-dish psychodynamic insight into motivation and no delving into anguished family history – all it asks (more or less) is that you state a positive intention while tapping on acupoints.

Now, all that tapping can look pretty weird, but it seems to help a good slice of the population. And, because it’s so undemanding on a person’s time and cash reserves, it’s not a bad strategy to try first, before signing up for the more lengthy, pricey and complicated process of psychotherapy.

That’s why for years we’ve carried Mary Sise’s anxiety management video (inexplicably called Thought Field Therapy, even though it’s EFT, through and through). It’s this very unique form of self-help in a box.

The big question about EFT has always been, “So, where’s the research?”  And for years, the answer has been, “It’s coming, it’s coming”. 

Well, three studies have finally arrived, albeit two of the three are in a non-peer reviewed journal by investigators who are not associated with a university, so there may be a question of bias involved. But the third looks entirely solid.

One, a meta-analysis of studies of EFT for the treatment of depression concluded that EFT performed better than treatment as usual and as well as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). [i]

Another study from the same source performed a meta-analysis on randomized, controlled trials (RCT’s) on EFT with posttraumatic stress, finding it efficacious with large effect sizes.[ii]

A third study, an RCT from Bond University in Australia[iii], concluded that EFT performed comparably with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, showing effectiveness in reducing food cravings and promoting dietary restraint, with moderate to high effect sizes. 

So I’m glad to see EFT is getting some validation and legitimacy at last. I mean, really – if it helps people, who cares how odd it looks?

All best,

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Belleruth


[i]Nelms JA, Castel L.A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized and Nonrandomized Trials of Clinical Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for the Treatment of Depression. Explore (NY). 2016 Nov - Dec;12(6):416-426.

[ii]Sebastian B, Nelms J. The Effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis. Explore (NY). 2017 Jan - Feb;13(1):16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2016.10.001. Epub 2016 Oct 24.

[iii]Stapleton P, Bannatyne A, et al.  Food for Thought: A Randomised Controlled Trial of Emotional Freedom Techniques and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the Treatment of Food Cravings. Appl Psychol Health Well Being. 2016 Jul;8(2):232-57.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award