EFT – Research & Evidence base

The latest peer-reviewed analysis of the evidence-base for EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, or Meridian/Energy/Tapping technique) as an effective psychological therapy can be found here:

Feinstein, D. (in press). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology.

EFT Universe also has a good research section which is regularly updated.


Update from Dawson Church, May 2012:

EFT Meets APA Standards: A historic moment has arrived, that marks the fruition of an enormous amount of work and persistence by many, many people. This week we changed the EFT Research page to read as follows: “The current status of EFT as an “evidence-based” practice is summarized in this statement in the APA (American Psychological Association) journal Review of General Psychology:

‘ “A literature search identified 50 peer-reviewed papers that report or investigate clinical outcomes following the tapping of acupuncture points to address psychological issues. The 17 randomized controlled trials in this sample were critically evaluated for design quality, leading to the conclusion that they consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions. Criteria for evidence-based treatments proposed by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association were also applied and found to be met for a number of conditions, including PTSD.’ (Feinstein, in press)”

‘This is sober academic language for a seismic shift in the geography of healing. For the past five years, we’ve worked incredibly hard, through unbelievable obstacles, to complete the research required to meet APA Division 12 standards. This milestone, published in an APA journal, marks a tipping point in EFTs credibility. You can now confidently present your EFT Universe certification in Clinical EFT as training in an “evidence-based” practice.’


(Nb: I don’t know if the APA has officially recognised EFT, and thus whether psychologists can get credits for training yet, but it has met the criteria and hopefully this is the next step.)


Also see the clinical trials being conducted by Dr Peta Stapleton from Bond University in Australia.

EFT Background and history:

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a relatively recent innovation in emotional healing. It’s been around for about 15 years, but for many years the emphasis was on developing and sharing the technique and sharing anecdotal stories of results.

Group workshops and video-ed sessions — where volunteers with a wide range of issues and needs are taken through the process in real time and on camera — also provided an informal but persuasive form of clinical evidence.

However all of this was operating outside of the traditional means of production and legitimation of knowledge — universities, teaching hospitals, professional organisations, and peer-reviewed journals.

In more recent years the enthusiasm of this hands-on approach has been joined with a greater desire — particularly by those who practice EFT within their work as psychologists and medical professionals — to build a clear research and evidence base using scientific principles and practices.

Several bodies have also arisen to regulate and oversee training and accreditation of practioners, such as AAMET (Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques) and ACEP (Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology).

*Here’s a list of peer-review published research and published case studies compiled by ACEP (last updated November 2010).

*Here’s a select list of references relevant to energy psychology and energy medicine, both also compiled by ACEP.

*At ACEP’s site in the research section they also have a listing of (currently) unpublished research, and information to help researchers design controlled studies in this field.

*Dr David Feinsten (a clinical psychologist who has taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) also conducted a meta-study (a systematic review of all the research studies to date) which was published in 2008 as “Energy Psychology: A Review of the Preliminary Evidence in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 45(2), 199-213.

Here’s his abstract:

Energy psychology utilizes imaginal and narrative-generated exposure, paired with interventions that reduce hyperarousal through acupressure and related techniques. According to practitioners, this leads to treatment outcomes that are more rapid, powerful, and precise than the strategies used in other exposure-based treatments such as relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing. The method has been exceedingly controversial. It relies on unfamiliar procedures adapted from non-Western cultures, posits unverified mechanisms of action, and early claims of unusual speed and therapeutic power ran far ahead of initial empirical support. This paper reviews a hierarchy of evidence regarding the efficacy of energy psychology, from anecdotal reports to randomized clinical trials. Although the evidence is still preliminary, energy psychology has reached the minimum threshold for being designated as an evidence-based treatment, with one form having met the APA Division 12 criteria as a “probably efficacious treatment” for specific phobias; another for maintaining weight loss. The limited scientific evidence, combined with extensive clinical reports, suggests that energy psychology holds promise as a rapid and potent treatment for a range of psychological conditions.

(Full article available at: http://www.innersource.net/ep/epresearch.html)

Some recent published research:

* Here’s the abstract and link to a 2011 random-controlled study on the use of EFT with specific phobias.

I’ll be adding any new research as it comes to my notice. If you have any good links, please do let me know via the comments section below or by sending me an email.

Thanks for reading.


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