We receive a lot of enquiries about what research has been conducted on EFT so
this month I’ve decided to summarize the research that has been conducted,
let you know about some of the exciting research currently in progress, and
also inform you of where you can go for more information on research on EFT
and related techniques, such as TFT. Below each summary, I have provided
citations for those who wish to quote this research in their literature or
Wells, Kathryn Polglase, Dr Henry B Andrews, Dr Patricia Carrington and Dr
Harvey A Baker conducted a scientifically controlled study on EFT at Curtin
University in Western Australia in 1999 and 2000. The study found that a
single 30-minute treatment session of EFT could produce valid behavioral and
subjective effects on specific phobias of small animals. The significant
behavioral improvements that were obtained following EFT treatment were
maintained and possibly enhanced at 6-9 month follow up. That study was the
subject of extensive peer review, and was published in a peer review
Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews,
H.B., Carrington, P., and Baker, H.A.
“Evaluation of a meridian-based intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques
(EFT), for reducing specific phobias of small animals” Journal of Clinical
Psychology, Volume 59, Number 9 (September 2003) pp. 943 – 966.
pre-print of this paper, is
available on our website at:
Wells, et al. study has been scientifically corroborated in a follow-up
study conducted at Queens College in New York by Drs Harvey Baker and Linda
Siegel. Their study, which compared EFT treatment to a no-treatment control
as well as a non-directive counselling condition for treatment of small
animal phobias, produced results that almost directly paralleled the results
achieved in our study.
Harvey A. Baker and Linda Siegel, “One session of
Emotional Freedom Techniques is effective for reducing fear of specific
animals: A controlled laboratory study,” Paper presented at the second
annual meeting of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, San
Diego, May 2001.
Psychologists Wendy Waite and Mark D. Holder (2003) from the Department of
Psychology, Okanagan University College in Canada, found that a single
application of EFT produced significant reductions in self-reported fear in
a university cohort. They argued that EFT works because it shares some of
the same components as systematic desensitization.
L. Waite and Mark D. Hodder, (2003) “Assessment of the Emotional Freedom
Technique: An Alternative Treatment for Fear”, The Scientific Review of
Mental Health Practice, Vol 2, No. 1, pp. 20-25.
Psychologists Sharon Jones and Dr Henry B Andrews from Curtin University
(Jones and Andrews, 2001) studied EFT treatment (vs. waiting list control)
of public speaking anxiety in treatment sessions of 45-minutes conducted by
psychologists in the University counselling center. The authors found
significant improvements in self-report (Spielberger STAI) and subjective
levels of anxiety for EFT treatment. In tracking the results of EFT
treatment throughout the session, they found that subjective anxiety was
significantly reduced after just 15 minutes of EFT treatment and continued
to reduce throughout the treatment session.
Sharon Jones and Henry B. Andrews, “The efficacy
of emotional freedom technique in reducing public speaking anxiety: An
exploratory study.” Paper presented at a meeting of the Western Australian
branch of the College of Counselling Psychologists, March 2001.
Dr. Paul Swingle and
his colleagues (Swingle, Pulos & Swingle, 2000), studied the effects of EFT
on auto accident victims suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
These researchers found that three months after they had learned EFT (in two
sessions) these auto accident victims showed significant positive changes in
their brain waves and in self-reported symptoms of stress.
Swingle, P., Pulos,
L., & Swingle, M. (May, 2000). Effects of a meridian-based therapy, EFT, on
symptoms of PTSD in auto accident victims. Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Las Vegas,
In another study, Dr. Swingle used
EFT as a treatment for children diagnosed with epilepsy. The children were
administered EFT by their parents every time each day that the parents
suspected a seizure might occur. Swingle found significant reductions in
seizure frequency among these very young children, as well as extensive
clinical improvement in the children’s E. E. G. readings after exposure to
two weeks of daily in-home EFT treatment.
Swingle, P. (May,
2000). Effects of the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) method on seizure
frequency in children diagnosed with epilepsy. Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Las Vegas,
Joaquin Andrade, MD
and David Feinstein PhD report on a large scale study on Energy Psychology
(Including EFT and TFT)
clinical trials involving more than 29,000 patients from 11 allied treatment
centers in South America during a 14-year period, a variety of randomized,
double-blind pilot studies were conducted. The
largest of the sub-studies, conducted over a five-and-one-half year period,
followed the course of treatment of approximately 5,000 patients diagnosed
with anxiety disorders.
These patients were randomly
assigned to an experimental group (imagery and statements paired with the
manual stimulation of selected acupuncture points – as in EFT and TFT) or a
control group (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy supplemented by medication as
needed). Half of them received the energy therapy treatments and no
medication. Interviews at the end of treatment, along with follow-up
interviews at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months, showed that the energy therapy was
significantly more effective than the CBT/medication protocol in both the
proportion of patients showing some improvement and the proportion of
patients showing complete remission of symptoms:
Comparisons with 5,000
Anxiety Patients at Close of Therapy
permission from Energy Psychology Interactive. Emphasis mine.
Joaquin Andrade, MD
and David Feinstein PhD, “Energy Psychology: Theory, Indications, Evidence.”
In David Feinstein, Energy Psychology Interactive, (Ashland, OR: Innersource
2004, distributed by Norton Professional Books)
Brain mapping studies
conducted by Dr. Andrade and his team revealed that subjects with
generalized anxiety whose acupuncture points were stimulated tended to be
distinguished by a general pattern of wave normalization throughout the
brain, which not only persisted at 12-month follow-up, but also became more
pronounced. Details of this research and a sampling of brain scan images
from this research can be found in Energy Psychology Interactive and online
Details of study
Further studies on EFT currently underway:
A controlled study of
EFT in a clinical setting is in progress at Stairways Behavioral Health, an
outpatient clinic in Erie, Pennsylvania. The study consists of a treatment
group using EFT, a group using a psycho-education approach for the same
number of weeks as the treatment group (6 weeks), and a no treatment control
A study on the effects
of EFT on Math Anxiety is being conducted by Doctors Lois and Ronald
Worthington and Dr Harvey Baker of Princeton, NJ.
A number of studies on
EFT are being undertaken and planned under the guidance of Dr Harvey Baker
in conjunction with other researchers including:
A study in the
Psychology Department of Queens College in New York, to determine the effect of EFT vs. gentle
calisthenics, and the effect of a no-treatment control group, on free
throws’ in basketball.
planned by Father Kurien George and Harvey Baker, to take place in
India. These researchers plan to study the effects of EFT on alcohol
addiction in a small village in India.
A different type of
replication of the Wells et al. and Baker-Siegel studies will also be
undertaken by Harvey Baker who has just received a small grant to partially
support it. Dr Baker will compare EFT using the standard tapping points, to
a form of “EFT” which uses other body locations.
Harvey Baker has also
designed a study which will use a virtual reality program for fear of public
speaking to assess the effects of EFT on this fear.
Not very convincing yet. Little but research within the community that of course finds evidence. No external and quality research yet!
I’ve been around research long enough to know that what qualifies as “convincing” varies widely. You’re right that for those who require ONLY thousands of personal reports of success, thousands of practitioners worldwide using the technique with clients to help release traumas and beliefs and phobias that have resisted other methods… well, such people are already convinced of EFT tapping’s effectiveness. Those who require double blind, placebo controlled studies done by independent labs may require decades of further evidence. And that’s okay!
In our work we explore for ways people can soothe their fight/flight/freeze reflex to feel more emotionally free no matter what. In work with over 3000 people now, I’ve seen it work extremely well. It can feel miraculous… releasing something once and for all that has bothered a person for days or decades. And it can feel soothing like a hot shower after you feel all yucky from a smoke-filled gripe fest. We leave it up to people to decide what is right for them to try and add to their toolbox of self-care approaches.
The proof is in the pudding! Have you tried it?! Rick and I are engineers. We love data and research. And we also know that from a practical point of view, if it works, it works! Hundreds of thousands of people have found relief using tapping. I’ve felt the difference in my own life. Worth a try?
Absolutely… if it works, it’s not important to me what the research says. It works for me, for my clients and thousands around the world. There’s the proof.
The gold standard for research is the double blind study and done with a sufficient sampling. With all the anecdotal evidence, such a study (or studies) really needs to be done to document that EFT really does work.
For years, meditation was thought to be helpful for many different type of issues and eventually it was researched and proven to be true by Dr. Herbert Benson. But until he did the research, skepticism ran high as did critics.
EFT is worth researching. It does take time and money, but it is something that really needs to be done.