Dawson Church, Peta Stapleton, Anitha Vasudevan and Tom O’Keefe published an updated review in the online journal Frontiers. The review, Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions: A systematic review, is an update on all the research on EFT. It shows – again! – that EFT is evidence-based.

The theory

Back in 2013, Church et al published a study which earned EFT the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 12 label of “probably efficacious treatment.” That study has been downloaded or viewed a whopping 36,000 times. The current study updated the 2013 paper, incorporating nearly a decade’s worth of additional data.

When EFT made its debut back in the 1990’s, there was a lot of skepticism that this strange-looking technique could be legit. Thankfully, many practitioners were not scared off by the “woo-woo” factor, and EFT gained a reputation for its effectiveness. But the mainstream still was not on board.

This is where a dedicated team of researchers and academics stepped up and made a difference. By 2012, there were enough studies to allow David Feinstein to publish his analysis in an APA journal. In 2013, Dawson Church published his review. And in the decade since then, more studies and meta-analyses hit the presses. Today, the research base is robust, and demonstrates that EFT is not just woo-woo: It’s evidence-based woo-woo.

The study setup

The researchers performed a systematic review of the literature to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses on EFT. They identified 56 RCTs (N=2,013). Of these, 41 were published since the 2013 review. They also found eight meta-analyses. Meta-analyses are important because they aggregate data from other studies. To perform a meta-analysis, a good number of studies, usually RCTs, must exist for the authors to analyze.

Study results

The results confirmed what practitioners of EFT know. RCTs have found EFT treatment to be effective for:

  • psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • physiological issues such as pain, insomnia, and autoimmune conditions
  • professional and sports performance
  • biological markers of stress

Moreover, the meta-analyses evaluating EFT have all found moderate to large effect sizes.

Interestingly, some studies show EFT treatment is associated with measurable biological effects in the dimensions of gene expression, brain synchrony, hormonal synthesis, and a wide range of biomarkers.

In addition to a review of the studies done to date, the authors also propose next steps for EFT research. These include:

  • medical issues such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive impairment
  • analysis of the large-scale datasets made possible by mobile apps
  • delivery through channels such as virtual practitioner sessions, online courses, apps and standardized group therapy.

EFT is evidence-based

These findings show that Clinical EFT is helpful for a range of psychological and physiological conditions. Clinical EFT is an evidence-based, stable, and mature method. It is popular as a self-help tool, but the research shows that it is much more. The authors state that EFT can be used in primary care settings as a safe, rapid, reliable, and effective treatment for both psychological and medical diagnoses, and the body of evidence continues to grow!

Want to learn more?

If you would like to use EFT to work on some of your own clinical issues, find a clinician using ACEP’s clinician directory. If you are a clinician and would like to be trained in clinical EFT, sign up for ACEP’s certification program.