As EFT became more popular in therapy and coaching circles, it attracted the attention of researchers. They conducted studies of EFT and found that it was extremely effective for mental health problems such as phobias, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Lane, 2009). Because The EFT Manual was freely available, all this research was conducted using a uniform version of EFT, which we call Clinical EFT. This is the form of EFT taught in the manual.
The use of a manual is necessary to ensure that a treatment is applied uniformly from study to study. The Clinical Psychology division of the American Psychological Association (APA) has published guidelines for research. These guidelines determine whether or not a therapy is “empirically validated” (Chambless & Hollon, 1998). There are seven “essential” criteria that are required in order for a study to be considered valid, and one of these is the use of a written manual.
This ensures that when a scientific study is replicated, researchers are comparing apples to apples. Studies usually contain a sentence similar to this: “The EFT protocol is described in The EFT Manual (Craig, 2008); fidelity to the method was assessed by means of written checklists submitted by coaches to investigators” (Hartung & Stein, 2012). In this way, researchers confirm that they are using the same manualized form of the method that has been tested in other studies.
Uniformity is particularly important in the case of EFT. As it has become more popular and because the basics are so easy to use, hundreds of websites have sprung up and thousands of YouTube videos have been posted demonstrating EFT. A few use EFT as described in the manual, but most introduce variations and innovations developed by those who created them. Some of these EFT variants are probably as effective as the original method while others may not be. Few of them have been tested in research studies, so it is difficult to determine their effectiveness.
It is possible, however, to assess the effectiveness of Clinical EFT, the method taught in The EFT Manual (Craig, 2008; Church, 2018), because it carefully adheres to the same version of EFT that has been used in the studies that validate the method. When you use the manual to learn EFT, you can rest assured that you are learning a tried and true technique that dozens of scientific studies have shown to be effective. You’re not using a variant that may or may not be effective. There are 48 techniques described in Clinical EFT. The EFT manual gives you a basic understanding of all 48. More detailed descriptions can be found in The Clinical EFT Handbook, Volume 1 (Church & Marohn, 2013).
To ensure that users always get the same proven EFT formula validated in research, all books in the EFT series published by the Energy Psychology Press have the same “common chapter” on how to perform EFT’s Basic Recipe. Whether you’re a fibromyalgia patient reading EFT for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue (Church, 2013a) or a dieter reading EFT for Weight Loss (Church, 2013b), you’re guaranteed to get the same successful formula demonstrated in all those studies.
APA Standards for Evidence-Based Treatment
All the books in the EFT series embrace the evidence-based standards defined by the American Psychological Association Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) Task Force (“APA standards,” for short). These define an “empirically validated treatment” as one for which two controlled trials have been conducted by independent research teams. For a treatment to be designated as “efficacious,” the studies must demonstrate that the treatment is better than a placebo or an established efficacious treatment.
To be designated as “probably efficacious,” a treatment must meet these criteria in one study, have been shown to be better than a wait list in two studies, or meet these criteria in two studies that were conducted by the same research team rather than two independent teams.
The APA standards advocate that studies contain sufficient subjects to achieve a level of statistical significance of p < .05 or greater, which means that there is only one possibility in 20 that the results are due to chance. This threshold is the level of proof most commonly accepted in the scientific community.
The current status of EFT as an “evidence-based” practice is summarized in this statement published in the APA journal Review of General Psychology:
A literature search identified 51 peer-reviewed papers that report or investigate clinical outcomes following the tapping of acupuncture points to address psychological issues. The 18 randomized controlled trials in this sample were critically evaluated for design quality, leading to the conclusion that they consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions. Criteria for evidence-based treatments proposed by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association were also applied and found to be met for a number of conditions, including PTSD. (Feinstein, 2012)
The EFT Manual and other Energy Psychology Press publications use the APA’s style guidelines (American Psychological Association, 2009).
American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Chambless, D., & Hollon, S. D. (1998). Defining empirically supported therapies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 7–18.
Church, D. (2013a). EFT for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press.
Church, D. (2013b). EFT for weight loss. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press.
Church, D. (2018). The EFT manual (4th ed.). Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press.
Church, D., & Marohn, S. (Eds.). (2013). The clinical EFT handbook: A definitive resource for practitioners, scholars, clinicians, and researchers. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press.
Craig, G. (2008). The EFT manual. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press.
Feinstein, D. (2012a). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology, 16, 364–380. doi:10.1037/a0028602
Hartung, J., & Stein, P. (2012). Telephone delivery of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) remediates PTSD symptoms in veterans: A randomized controlled trial. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4(1), 33–42. doi:10.9769.EPJ.2012.4.1.JH
Lane, J. (2009). The neurochemistry of counterconditioning: Acupressure desensitization in psychotherapy. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 1(1), 31–44.