The State of EFT Research

EFT has been researched in more than 10 countries, by more than 60 investigators, whose results have been published in more than 20 different peer-reviewed journals.

These include distinguished top-tier journals such as Journal of Clinical Psychology, the APA journals Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training and Review of General Psychology, and the oldest psychiatric journal in North America, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

EFT research includes investigators affiliated with many different institutions.

In the US, these range from Harvard Medical School, to the University of California at Berkeley, to City University of New York, to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, to Texas A&M University, to JFK University. Institutions in other countries whose faculty have contributed to EFT research include Staffordshire University (United Kingdom), Lund University (Sweden), Ankara University (Turkey), Santo Tomas University (Philippines), Lister Hospital (England), Cesar Vallejo University (Peru), Bond University (Australia), and Griffith University (Australia).

Neuroscientist, Dr. David Feinstein

Dr. David Feinstein 

The Science Behind Tapping

Energy Psychology has been called “acupressure for the emotions.” It is a self-empowerment approach that draws from ancient spiritual practices and healing traditions. It provides simple methods for shifting brain patterns that lead to unwanted thoughts, actions, and emotions, such as fear, anger, anxiety, jealousy, shame, and depression.

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EFT Student Evidence Research

Here are just a few of the studies:

Boath, Stewart, & Carryer (2013) – Is Emotional Freedom Techniques
(EFT) Generalizable? Comparing Effects in Sport Science
Students Versus Complementary Therapy Students.

Following a 15 minute EFT workshop and 15 minute lecture on EFT, 46
students suffering from public speaking anxiety experienced a
significant reduction in subjective units of distress and anxiety,
however no effect on depression was observed.
Qualitative reports from students revealed the students
believed EFT assisted in reducing anxiety by helping them stay
calm and focused.

Sezgin, Ozcan, & Church (2009) – The effect of two psychophysiological techniques (Progressive Muscular Relaxation and Emotional Freedom Techniques) on test anxiety in high school students: A randomized blind controlled study.

  • Of 312 high school students, 70 students who were identified as having a
    high level of test-related anxiety were randomly assigned to a
    control group who received progressive muscle relaxation
    techniques or an experimental group (EFT treatment).
  • Both groups observed a significant decrease in student anxiety, however
    a significantly greater decrease was observed for students who
    received EFT
  • Both groups scored higher on test examinations following the treatment,
    however greater performance was observed for the EFT group (though the difference was not statistically significant). Jain &
    Rubino (2012) – The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom
    Techniques (EFT) for optimal test performance: A  randomized
    controlled trial.
  • 150 undergraduate students from three different universities with
    debilitating test anxiety were randomly assigned to three treatment groups:
    – 1) EFT treatment (2 x 2 hour treatments), 2) diaphragmatic breathing (2
    x 2 hour treatments, 3) or no-treatment control group.
  • Significant
    improvements in optimal test performance were seen for both diaphragmatic breathing and EFT on most assessment measures, with
    gains/improvements maintained at the end of the university semester when
    students were re-tested.
    Fitch (2011) – The efficacy of primordial energy activation and
    transcendence (PEAT) for public speaking anxiety
  • This study randomly assigned 82 university students experiencing
    communication/public speaking anxiety into two groups: 1)
    primordial energy activation and transcendence (PEAT) treatment
    (20 minutes in duration) or 2) no treatment control group.
  • Overall, a significant reduction in anxiety was observed for individual who received the PEAT treatment compared to the control group.
  • Qualitative reports from participants also identified themes of effectiveness for the PEAT intervention in reducing public speaking anxiety. Jones, Thornton, & Andrews (2011) – Efficacy of EFT in reducing public speaking anxiety: A randomized controlled trial.
  • Significant reductions in public speaking anxiety were observed all subjective and behavioral measures following an EFT intervention.
  • A significant reduction in public speaking anxiety (as measured by Subjective Units of Distress) was demonstrated within the first 15 minutes of EFT treatment, with further significant reductions demonstrated at 30 and 45 minutes.
  • EFT was found to be a quick and effective treatment for public speaking anxiety.
  • Fitch, Schmuldt, & Rudick (2011) – Reducing state communication anxiety for public speakers: An energy psychology pilot study. Speech anxiety was significantly reduced for the 14 students (out of 67) who received primordial energy activation and transcendence (PEAT). Qualitative reports revealed students who underwent PEAT reported an increased sense of well-being and calmness, both during and after the process, stating it helped them maintain eye contact and was more helpful that other anxiety-reducing strategies.

Sporting/Athletic Performance

Church & Downs (2012) – Sports confidence and critical incident intensity
after a brief application of Emotional Freedom Techniques: A pilot study. •
Significant improvements in both emotional and physical components of sports performance were seen after a single 20-minute EFT session, with all improvements maintained 60 days following treatment.

  • Llewellyn-Edwards & Llewellyn-Edwards (2012) – The effect of EFT
    on soccer performance.
  • Results revealed a significant improvement in goal scoring ability from a
    dead ball situation following a short EFT session. Church (2009) – The effect of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) on athletic
    performance: A randomized controlled blind trial
  • FollowingasingleEFTtreatment(15minutes)asampleofcollegebasketbal lteammembers improved on average 20.8% in free throws, compared to the control group (no treatment) who decreased on average 16.6% in free throw ability, thus suggesting EFT may
    improve free throw performance.

Learning Disabilities/Educational

McCallion (2012) – Emotional freedom techniques for dyslexia:

  • A case study by the end of three EFT sessions, the client (who suffered from dyslexia) was able to read easily and fluently, and understand sentences. The disorientation associated with the client’s dyslexia had also reduced significantly to a point where it was no longer an issue.

EFT Research/References

  • Baker, A. H., & Siegel, L. S. (2010). Emotional freedom techniques (EFT)
    reduce intense fears: A partial replication and extension of Wells et al.
    (2003). Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 2, 13-30.
  • Benor, D. J., Ledger, K., Toussaint, L., Hett, G., & Zaccaro, D. (2009). 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, 5.
  • Boath, E., Stewart, A., & Carryer, A. (2013). Tapping for success: A pilot
    study to explore if Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can reduce
    anxiety and enhance academic performance in University students.
    Innovative Practice in Higher Education,1.
  • Bougea, A., Spandideas, N., Alexopoulos, E., Thomaides, T., Chrousos, G.
    P., & Darviri, C. (2013). Effect of the Emotional Freedom Technique on
    perceived stress, quality of life, and cortisol salivary levels in tension-type
    headache sufferers: A randomized controlled trial. Explore, 9, 91–99.

Dr. Dawson Church’s Cortisol Gold Study Research

Although frequently overlooked, emotional health is critical for your physical health and healing. No matter how devoted you are to the proper diet and lifestyle, you’re unlikely to achieve optimal health if emotional barriers stand in your way. 

Energy psychology uses a psychological acupressure technique based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture (which has been used to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years) but without the invasiveness of needles. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is the most popular form of energy psychology and was developed in the 1990’s by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering graduate specializing in healing and self-improvement. I routinely used EFT in my practice, and highly recommend it to optimize your emotional health. 

The method involves tapping specific points on your head and chest with your fingertips while thinking about your specific problem—be it a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc.—and voicing positive affirmations. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist. 

The combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the emotional block from your body’s bio-energy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance. 

Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, your body can often re-balance itself, and accelerate healing. While some still view energy psychology with suspicion, EFT has actually met the criteria for evidence-based treatments set by the American Psychological Association for a number of conditions, including post-traumatic distress syndrome (PTSD).

Tapping Research for Students