Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions

Citation (APA Style): Church, D. (2013). Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions. Psychology, 4(8), 645-654. doi:10.4236/psych.2013.48092


Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) has moved in the past two decades from a fringe therapy to widespread professional acceptance. This paper defines Clinical EFT, the method validated in many research studies, and shows it to be an “evidence-based” practice. It describes standards by which therapies may be evaluated such as those of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 12 Task Force, and reviews the studies showing that Clinical EFT meets these criteria. Several research domains are discussed, summarizing studies of: (a) psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); (b) physiological problems such as pain and autoimmune conditions; (c) professional and sports performance, and (d) the physiological mechanisms of action of Clinical EFT. The paper lists the conclusions that may be drawn from this body of evidence, which includes 23 randomized controlled trials and 17 within-subjects studies. The three essential ingredients of Clinical EFT are described: exposure, cognitive shift, and acupressure. The latter is shown to be an essential ingredient in EFTs efficacy, and not merely a placebo. New evidence from emerging fields such as epigenetics, neural plasticity,  psychoneuroimmunology and evolutionary biology confirms the central link  between emotion and physiology, and points to somatic stimulation as the  element common to emerging psychotherapeutic methods. The paper outlines the  next steps in EFT research, such as smartphone-based data gathering, large scale  group therapy, and the use of biomarkers. It concludes that Clinical EFT is a  stable and mature method with an extensive evidence base. These characteristics  have led to growing acceptance in primary care settings as a safe, rapid, reliable,  and effective treatment for both psychological and medical diagnoses.

Keywords: clinical EFT, evidence, psychological treatment, Emotional Freedom Techniques, EFT, physiological conditions

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