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Research

EFT Research: important findings to date

Whilst there are countless anecdotal examples of Energy Therapies producing extraordinary results, until recently scientific validation has not been available. Now, however, thorough research studies into EFT and energy psychology are being carried out worldwide and some excellent results are being reported. The following are important findings to date, further research will be added as it comes through.


Preliminary report of the first largescale study of Energy Psychology by Joaquin Andrade MD and David Feinstein PhD

Summary: In preliminary clinical trials involving more than 29,000 patients from 11 allied treatment centres in South America during a 14-year period, a variety of randomized, double-blind pilot studies were conducted.

In one of these, approximately 5,000 patients diagnosed at intake with an anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to an experimental group (tapping) or a control group (Cognitive Behavior Therapy/medication) using standard randomization tables and, later, computerized software. Ratings were given by independent clinicians who interviewed each patient at the close of therapy, at 1 month, at 3 months, at 6 months, and at 12 months.

The raters made a determination of complete remission of symptoms, partial remission of symptoms, or no clinical response. The raters did not know if the patient received CBT/medication or tapping. They knew only the initial diagnosis, the symptoms, and the severity, as judged by the intake staff.

At the close of therapy: 63% of the control group were judged as having improved 90% of the experimental group were judged as having improved 51% of the control group were judged as being symptom free 76% of the experimental group were judged as symptom free At one-year follow-up, the patients receiving tapping treatments were less prone to relapse or partial relapse than those receiving CBT/medication, as indicated by the independent raters' assessments and corroborated by brain imaging and neurotransmitter profiles.

In a related pilot study by the same team, the length of treatment was substantially shorter with energy therapy and related methods than with CBT/medication (mean = 3 sessions vs. mean = 15 sessions). If subsequent research corroborates these early findings, it will be a notable development since CBT/medication is currently the established standard of care for anxiety disorders and the greater effectiveness of the energy approach suggested by this study would be highly significant. The preliminary nature of these findings must, however, be emphasized. The study was initially envisioned as an in-house assessment of a new method and was not designed with publication in mind. Not all the variables that need to be controlled in robust research were tracked, not all criteria were defined with rigorous precision, the record-keeping was relatively informal, and source data were not always maintained.

Nonetheless, the studies all used randomized samples, control groups, and double blind assessment. The findings were so striking that the team decided to report them. The principal investigator was Joaquín Andrade, M.D. The report was written by Dr. Andrade and David Feinstein, Ph.D. The paper will appear in Energy Psychology Interactive: An Integrated Book and CD Program for Learning the Fundamentals of Energy Psychology (Ashland, OR: Innersource, in press, distributed by Norton Professional Books) by David Feinstein in consultation with Fred P. Gallo, Donna Eden, and the Energy Psychology Interactive Advisory Board.


 

Phobias

An excellent study by psychologist Steve Wells and his associates in Australia and the United States studied the effects of EFT on phobias of small animals and insects. This study is published in a leading peer reviewed journal, the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

The results of the study are impressive. Those subjects who had learned EFT, as compared to those in a comparison group who had learned a deep breathing method, showed significantly greater reduction in their fear of small animals and insects - both in terms of their ability to approach the feared animal after the treatment, and their self reported indexes of fear. What is more, these results held up just as well six to nine months later as they did at the time of the treatment, showing that the results of EFT are lasting - an important consideration. The deep breathing group improved also in their symptoms, but significantly less so. All told, this careful study represents a strong confirmation of EFT as a treatment for phobias and common fears. Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews, H.B., Carrington, P., & Baker, A.H. (2003). Evaluation of a Meridian Based Intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for Reducing Specific Phobias of Small Animals. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 59(9), 943-966.


 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Research conducted by Dr. Paul Swingle and his colleagues, studied the effects of EFT on auto accident victims suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - an extremely disabling conditioning that involves unreasonable fears and often panic attacks, disabling physiological symptoms of stress, nightmares, flashbacks etc. 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, NV.


 

Epilepsy

Another study by 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 EEG readings after exposure to two weeks of daily in-home EFT treatment, an impressive result. This study has not yet been written up but can be cited as follows: 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, NV.


 

Self-administered EFT in individuals with fibromyalgia: a randomized trial by Gunilla Brattberg, MD

Brattberg, G. (2008). Self-administered EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) in individuals with fibromyalgia: a randomized trial. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, August/September.

Abstract
The aim of this study was to examine if self-administered EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) leads to reduced pain perception, increased acceptance, coping ability and health-related quality of life in individuals with fibromyalgia. 86 women, diagnosed with fibromyalgia and on sick leave for at least 3 months, were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a waiting list group. An eight-week EFT treatment program was administered via the Internet.

Upon completion of the program, statistically significant improvements were observed in the intervention group (n=26) in comparison with the waiting list group (n=36) for variables such as pain, anxiety, depression, vitality, social function, mental health, performance problems involving work or other activities due to physical as well as emotional reasons, and stress symptoms. Pain catastrophizing measures, such as rumination, magnification and helplessness, were significantly reduced, and the activity level was significantly increased. The number needed to treat (NNT) regarding recovering from anxiety was 3. NNT for depression was 4.

Self-administered EFT seems to be a good complement to other treatments and rehabilitation programs. The sample size was small and the dropout rate was high. Therefore the surprisingly good results have to be interpreted with caution. However, it would be of interest to further study this simple and easily accessible self-administered treatment method, which can even be taught over the Internet.


 

The Treatment of Combat Trauma in Veterans Using EFT

Church, D. (2009). The Treatment of Combat Trauma in Veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A Pilot Protocol. Traumatology, in press.

Abstract
With a large number of US military service personnel coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co- morbid psychological conditions, a need exists to find protocols and treatments that are effective in brief treatment timeframes. In this study, a sample of 11 veterans and family members were assessed for PTSD and other conditions. Evaluations were made using the SA-45 (Symptom Assessment 45) and the PCL-M (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist - Military) using a time-series, within-subjects, repeated measures design. A baseline measurement was obtained thirty days prior to treatment, and immediately before treatment. Subjects were then treated with a brief and novel exposure therapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), for five days. Statistically significant improvements in the SA-45 and PCL-M scores were found at posttest. These gains were maintained at both the 30- and 90-day follow-ups on the general symptom index, positive symptom total and the anxiety, somatization, phobic anxiety, and interpersonal sensitivity subscales of the SA-45, and on PTSD. The remaining SA-45 scales improved posttest but were not consistently maintained at the 30- and 90-day follow-ups. One-year follow-up data was obtained for 7 of the participants and the same improvements were observed. In summary, after EFT treatment, the group no longer scored positive for PTSD, the severity and breadth of their psychological distress decreased significantly, and most of their gains held over time. This suggests that EFT can be an effective post-deployment intervention.


 

World Trade Center Tower 2 Survivor: EP Treatment of Long-term PTSD:  A case study

Nicosia, G. (2008) World Trade Center Tower 2 Survivor: EP Treatment of Long-term PTSD:  A case study. Presented at the ACEP Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology conference, Baltimore, May.
Gregory J. Nicosia, PhD

Abstract
In this case study a survivor of the Twin Towers collapse of 9/11/01 is treated for prolonged complex PTSD after several years of self-imposed seclusion.  Effects of a single session of EFT assessed immediately after treatment demonstrated an elimination of clinically significant scores on the Traumatic Symptom Inventory compared to two pre-treatment assessments.  Similar reductions in 4 of 7 subscales of the Personality Assessment Inventory were also evidenced.  Twelve treatment sessions over 8 weeks concluded treatment with nearly complete symptom remediation and return to work.  A 60 day follow-up PAI testing showed only one clinically elevated scale.


 

The Effect of Energy Psychology on Athletic Performance: A Randomized Controlled Blind Trial

Church, D. (2008b). The Effect of Energy Psychology on Athletic Performance: A Randomized Controlled Blind Trial. Paper presented at tenth annual ACEP (Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology) conference, May.

Abstract
This study investigated whether the most widely practiced form of Energy Psychology, called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), could affect athletic performance. It evaluated whether a single brief EFT treatment for performance stress could produce an improvement in two skills for high-performance men’s and women’s college basketball teams at Oregon State University. The treatment group received a brief EFT session while the control group received a “tips and techniques reading” (TTR). Performance was measured on free throws and vertical jump height. Basketball players who received the EFT intervention scored an average of 21% better individually in free throws after treatment than the control group, while the control group scored an average of 17% lower (p<0.028). However, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups in their percent change in jump height. When analyzed separately, there was a trend for females in the EFT condition to have better performance on both free throws and jump height than females in the control group. These findings suggest that EFT performed as an intervention during the course of an athletic event may reduce performance stress, and improve individual player function for free throws, and is thus worthy of further study. This study was limited by the small sample size and short duration of the intervention.


 

Pilot Study of EFT, WHEE and CBT for Treatment of Test Anxiety in University Students

Benor, D. J., Ledger, K., Toussaint, L., Hett, G., & Zaccaro, D. (2008). Pilot study of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Wholistic Hybrid derived from EMDR and EFT (WHEE) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for treatment of test anxiety in university students. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. In press.

Abstract
Objective: This study explored test anxiety benefits of Wholistic Hybrid derived from EMDR (WHEE), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Participants: Canadian university students with severe or moderate test anxiety participated.

Methods: A double-blind, controlled trial of WHEE (n = 5), EFT (n =5), and CBT (n = 5) was conducted. Standardized anxiety measures included: the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) and Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-21).

Results: Despite small sample size, significant reductions on the TAI and HSCL-21 were found for WHEE; on the TAI for EFT; and on the HSCL-21 for CBT. There were no significant differences between the scores for the three treatments. In only two sessions WHEE and EFT achieved the equivalent benefits to those achieved by CBT in five sessions. Participants reported high satisfaction with all treatments. EFT and WHEE students successfully transferred their self-treatment skills to other stressful areas of their lives.

Conclusions: WHEE and EFT show promise as effective treatments for test anxiety.

 

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