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Tapping your way to success: Using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to reduce anxiety and improve communication skills in social work students

Citation (APA style): Boath, E., Good, R., Tsaroucha, A., Stewart, T., Pitch, S., & Boughey, A. J. (2017). Tapping your way to success: Using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to reduce anxiety and improve communication skills in social work students. Social Work Education, 36(6), 715-730. doi:10.1080/02615479.2017.1297394

Abstract

By the nature of their professional training and practice placements, social work students are prone to situations provoking the onset of anxiety. A program of academic and placement support, termed the “Skills Lab,” provides help and support for students to develop their communication skills and prepare for their practice placements and transition into professional social work practice. Skills Lab evaluations indicated a high level of appreciation, linked with a strong sense of apprehension and anxiety, which some students report has negatively affected their performance. To address student anxiety, a pilot study using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) was developed. EFT is an intervention that may potentially be effective in reducing academic anxiety and in enhancing public speaking. This mixed-methods pilot study measured participants’ (n = 45) subjective distress and anxiety before and after using EFT. Subjective distress/anxiety was invoked through a 15-minute assignment lecture. Twelve of the 45 students also participated in one-to-one interviews to elaborate on their experiences of EFT. Quantitative findings indicated participants reported significantly less subjective distress and anxiety after using EFT. Qualitative findings indicated three themes whereby participants found EFT calming, relaxing, and helpful; considered the transferability of EFT in other settings; and proposed some of the mechanisms of EFT’s action.

Keywords: EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, anxiety, communication skills, social work students, mixed-methods

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