Research Shows: EFT Helps People Lose Weight & Maintain Weight Loss

People who are overweight generally know what to do. Eat less, eat better, exercise more. Pretty simple, right? So why does it so often feel impossible? As with so many human problems, we know better, but we don’t seem to be able to do better.

There are many factors that have very little to do with the knowledge that leads us to the sleeve of Girl Scout cookies. Or the bag of chips. The pint of Americone Dream. The drive-through window.

I’ve often observed that if we all could get our feelings to line up with what we know, hardly anyone would have a problem. It seems to me that we usually are pretty smart about things. Our problems, therefore, are not usually problems of information. They are problems of emotion, of energy, of habit.

They are problems for which the world of energy psychology offers solutions.

An overweight world

If you are dealing with weight issues, you are not alone. The rates of overweight and obesity around the world continue to climb. A New England Journal of Medicine report shows that the rate of obesity worldwide has doubled since 1980, affecting 5% of children and 12% of adults. In the US, researchers project that half of the adults will have obesity by 2030.

We at ACEP are body-positive. As mental health and health practitioners, we want our clients to feel good in whatever body they have. However, we must also acknowledge the health effects of obesity and overweight: increased risk of type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, cardiovascular risk, certain cancers, other chronic conditions, as well as more depression and anxiety. Worldwide, overweight and obesity contributed to 4 million deaths in 2015.

By profession, by vocation, by calling, we are helpers. And so, we have been watching with great interest the work of Peta Stapleton and her colleagues, who have been using EFT to treat weight problems. We’re proud that she’s an ACEP member.

EFT and weight loss – the research

Stapleton is a world-renowned researcher who focuses on clinical applications of EFT “tapping” therapy. She has authored several books on ways to use EFT. She has conducted groundbreaking research on EFT for health, wellbeing, depression and anxiety, trauma, and weight issues, including food cravings. Stapleton’s latest work focused on internet delivery of an eight-week program of EFT for weight loss.

The internet, despite its flaws and limitations, is becoming a valuable tool for delivering health and mental health services. This study examined whether on-line delivery of EFT for psychological symptoms, food cravings, and consumption of craved foods, and weight management, would work.

It does.

Nearly 1,000 people from around the world signed up to participate in the eight-week study. After the usual attrition, more than 500 people ― mostly women, by a 9:1 ratio― joined the study. They were randomly placed into an EFT treatment group (314) and a no-treatment control group (228).

Participants in the study reported their height and weight, so researchers could calculate their BMI. They also reported their food cravings; power of food (how hard it was to resist when, say, they walked across a crowded pizza shop); restraint (a kind of “chronic dieting”, which is an indication of disordered eating); and their levels of depression, anxiety, and physiological symptoms (like headaches). People who got eight weeks of EFT delivered to their laptops and smart-phones lost weight. Their food cravings went down remarkably, they felt less controlled by food, and they exhibited less dietary restraint. They also had fewer aches and pains, as well as less depression and anxiety. Perhaps best of all, though only 20% of the participants kept tapping after the eight weeks, they all maintained their weight losses a year after the study concluded.

Making it real

EFT and other forms of energy psychology have gained popularity over the past couple of decades. More people in the West are open to an Eastern paradigm, which is one of the theoretical underpinnings of energy psychology.

Many of us remain skeptical but open to evidence. The research is clear in study after study: EFT works. In this case, it can help people lose weight and maintain their weight loss. It helps reduce food cravings and helps people feel less overpowered by food. It eases up on restricted eating and the boomerang that often accompanies it. It does all this while addressing depression, anxiety, and physiological symptoms.

If you, a client, or a loved one is interested in getting more information about using EFT for weight loss, go to the ACEP website to find a list of qualified practitioners.

Guided Meditation

I love my job. When Jane (not her real name) came into the office today, she seemed a little agitated. As she brought me up to speed on what had happened since our last visit, she told the story of overwhelm: too much to do, not enough time to get it all done. She said she felt literally and figuratively out of balance and that was only part of the problem. She began to cry as she said that she was tired of living with fear. It was clear that she needed healing.

I love using guided meditation with clients. We are able to make a lot of progress in a little bit of time. Today, I guided Jane into a meditative state which set the stage for her conscious connection with her Higher Self. We cleared her mental, emotional, and physical bodies. Then, one by one, we dissolved blocks: trauma, fear, sadness, and vulnerability melted away.

When my clients are meditating with me, I can feel their energy move and often see color changes in the energy around their bodies. Love that. I would never have believed this was possible if it hadn’t happened—but it happens. Today, as these blocks were being released, I could feel the energy spinning in a slightly dizzying way. I could also actually see Jane’s energy getting lighter and brighter as we went along.

After our big clearing exercise, we connected Jane to her inner yin and yang qualities, or inner male and female selves (we all have both). This is one of the things I love best to do with my clients because it is so helpful. Today, as soon as we connected to Jane’s male self, I felt an incredible heat as the energy flowed. Her male self wanted more organization; her female self wanted more self-care and meditation. She made adjustments and agreements and visualized herself getting these things in place.

I love seeing my clients getting happier. By the end of our session, Jane’s entire demeanor had changed. Her color was brighter, she was more calm and relaxed, and she had a plan. As we reflected on the work, Jane told me that she also had felt heaviness being cleared away, and made a motion of her hands pushing out from her heart. She had come into the office stressed, tired, and “crooked” inside. She walked out empowered, relaxed, and energized, and in alignment.

I love my job.


PS. Every Monday I offer the best free guided meditation.

Change how memories feel using EFT

"I remember but I don't feel upset": How energy psychology facilitates memory reconsolidation

One of the best things about being an energy psychology practitioner is seeing that look of wonder in our clients' eyes when their traumatic memories are no longer traumatic. Tapping lets us change how memories feel.
"I remember it, but I don't feel upset about it," they say.
It's the kind of experience that makes this profession so rewarding.
I remember one instance in particular. A client was working on a childhood trauma. He was in tears ― lots of them ― before we even started working. When I asked him to rate his distress on a scale of 0-10, he said it was 100. He looked as if he were telling the truth.
We began working. If you practice energy psychology, you know the drill: We tapped, and down the rating went: 10 to 6, 6 to 3, 3 to 0 or 1. At the end of the hour, and the end of the story, we arrived at a wide-eyed, "How-did-this-happen, I-remember-but-I-don't-feel-upset, it's-a-ZERO!!"
Months later, I asked my client how he felt about the issue. He looked at me with surprise. "You know, I don't think about it. I remember it happened but it doesn't bother me."

Memory reconsolidation

How did this happen? Why didn't the trauma response come back? A part of the answer, at least, has to do with memory reconsolidation.
Neuroscientists used to think that once something was encoded into long –term memory, it was there for good. The emotions associated with a memory were permanent. Or so it seemed.
In the late 1990's, researchers began studying memory reconsolidation. It turns out, thank goodness, that memories are changeable. When memories are activated ―when we remember― the memory becomes labile. In that state, it can be changed, or reconsolidated. When a memory is reconsolidated, the uncomfortable emotions associated with it can be erased.
Researchers and theoreticians disagree about the exact requirements for memory reconsolidation to occur. However, they have identified three key ingredients:
1. Vividly remember
2. Change the internal physiology or juxtapose a contradictory experience
3. Repeat

Extinction vs. Reconsolidation

Most anxiety therapies offer, at best, "extinction." Yet extinction is really a misnomer. Like the salivation response of Pavlov's dogs after "extinction", so too with extinction-oriented therapy: anxiety-provoking memories, and their flood of feelings, can come back unbidden at any time.
Memory reconsolidation is something different: an elimination of the anxiety associated with a previously disturbing memory. As my client's experience illustrates, a traumatic memory can be reconsolidated so that it no longer triggers a trauma response.

Memory reconsolidation and energy psychology

In his 2015 article, David Feinstein explained energy psychology tapping in terms of memory reconsolidation. His article is worth a read; the link is here.
Meridian tapping changes our internal physiology. Studies show that tapping on meridian points changes body chemistry and brain activity:
• A recent study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed deactivation in limbic regions following tapping.
• A 2009 study, using electroencephalogram (EEG), demonstrated healthy changes in brainwave patterns after trauma treatment with energy psychology.
• A 2012 study showed energy psychology reduces levels of salivary cortisol.

When we do energy psychology tapping, we ask our clients to activate the memory. While they do that, they are tapping on meridian points. Our clients are simultaneously activating a troubling memory and calming their internal physiology.
Energy psychology is a good way to facilitate memory reconsolidation; memory reconsolidation is a good model to explain how energy psychology works. No matter how you look at it, energy psychology helps our clients heal old wounds and feel better about themselves.

Biography, Biology, and Destiny: How Energy Psychology Can Break The Chain

(Originally published on

Diabetes. Depression. Heart disease. Asthma. Addiction. Cancer. What common denominator increases the likelihood of developing any of these conditions?

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

According to the CDC, ACEs are associated with an increased risk for mental and physical health problems across the lifespan. Childhood trauma (the biography) seems to affect our brains, nervous systems, and biochemistry (biology), which in turn increases the risk of psychological issues and serious illness (destiny).

ACES are a HUGE public health issue.  Since 1998, when Vincent Felitti and his colleagues published the seminal ACE study that revealed the health risks associated with childhood trauma, much public health focus has been on prevention.  Prevention is a great idea. But can we do anything for those who have already had ACEs?

With its track record of helping people recover from trauma, perhaps energy psychology has a key role to play in helping people heal from the effects of childhood trauma.


ACEs and Health

The problem of ACEs has gained widespread attention in recent years. The CDC estimates that if we prevented ACEs, we could eliminate 21 million cases of depression, nearly two million cases of heart disease, and 2.5 million cases of overweight/obesity. We would save millions of dollars in healthcare costs every year.

Sixty-one percent of American adults have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience. Sadly, 16% of us have experienced four or more ACEs. This is important because four is the critical number of ACEs that takes a serious toll on wellbeing and health.

For example, an ACE score of four or more

  • Is associated with a 390% increase in the likelihood of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Is associated with a 460% increase in the likelihood of developing depression.
  • Increases suicide risk by 1,220%.
  • An ACE Score of six or more is associated with a decreased life span of  20 years.


ACEs and Biography

There are three main categories of ACEs, and each category contains several types.

Abuse: Physical, Emotional, Sexual

Neglect: Physical, Emotional

Household Challenges: Intimate Partner Violence, Mental Illness, Divorce, Substance Abuse, Incarcerated Relative

Children of different races have different incident rates of adverse childhood experiences. According to the Child Trends brief of the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, the highest incidence of ACEs is among Black non-Hispanic Americans (61%) followed by Hispanic Americans (51%); 40% of White non-Hispanic Americans experience ACEs, and 23% of Asian Americans.


Biography Becomes Biology

Chronic exposure to stress during childhood can change our physiology, including changing cortisol levels, immune function, and inflammation. The effects on the developing brain can be serious and can include changes to the amygdala (associated with visceral emotion), hippocampus (associated with memory), and prefrontal cortex (associated with higher reasoning and impulse control).

Adverse childhood experiences can also affect social functioning. Children growing up in chaotic environments tend to have difficulty forming and maintaining friendships and may act out with aggression and bullying. Early childhood issues can affect career, relationships and family life, and may have a negative impact on financial wellbeing. People with high ACE scores tend to have problems with emotion regulation and to experience themselves as unworthy, helpless, or incompetent.

Moreover, ACEs are linked with unhealthy and risky behaviors. Attempting to self-regulate, people with high ACE scores tend to smoke, drink excessively and abuse other drugs, engage in risky sexual behaviors, overeat and be sedentary.

Following these pathways, biology can become destiny. The literature on ACEs tells us that ACEs “permanently affect” our physical, emotional, and mental health.

But what if the damage is not permanent?


Biology Does Not Have to Become Destiny

While much public health focus has been on preventing ACEs ― and clearly we should ― the question of healing ACEs also needs attention. Energy psychology, in particular Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), has a long history of helping people heal trauma.

For example, a 2017 meta-analysis found that EFT is exceptionally effective in treating PTSD. Widely used in social science, meta-analyses are statistical studies that combine the results of many individual studies to determine the overall effectiveness of treatment. This meta-analysis included seven controlled trials and found that EFT had a very large positive effect on participants across all studies of 2.96 as measured by a weighted Cohen’s d. An effect size of 0.8 is considered large. This shows that EFT is very effective at treating PTSD.

Furthermore, a 2006 study using TFT to treat PTSD among teenagers who had survived the Rwandan genocide found that a single session of TFT provided relief. The 50 adolescents treated in the study had been suffering with PTSD symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, jumpiness, aggression, and difficulty concentrating. The symptoms reduced dramatically, to subclinical levels, after a single session of 20-60 minutes of TFT, and the gains held at one-year follow-up.

These examples remind us how powerful energy psychology can be. It is possible that a widespread use of energy psychology methods could mitigate the effects of childhood adversity and help heal the effects of ACEs. The research, as well as the clinical experience of many professionals, show great promise in this direction.

That is something to be hopeful about indeed.