The effectiveness of EFT in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis

Citation (APA Style): Church, D., Stapleton, P., Yang, A., & Gallo, F. (2018). Is tapping on acupuncture points an active ingredient in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)? A systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative studies. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (in press).


Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) combines elements of cognitive restructuring and exposure techniques, with acupoint stimulation. Meta-analyses indicate large effect sizes for PTSD, depression, and anxiety, however EFTs treatment effects may be due to components it shares with other therapies.  This analysis reviewed whether EFTs acupressure component was an active ingredient. Six studies of adults with diagnosed or self-identified psychological or physical symptoms were compared (N = 403), and three (N = 102) were identified.  Pretest versus posttest EFT treatment showed a large effect size, Cohen’s d = 1.28 (95% CI 0.56-2.00), and Hedge’s g = 1.25 (95% CI 0.54-1.96). The acupressure groups demonstrated moderately stronger outcomes than controls, with weighted posttreatment effect sizes of d = -0.47 (95% CI -0.94-0.0) and g = -0.45 (95% CI -0.91-0.0). Meta-analysis showed the acupressure component was an active ingredient and that outcomes are not due solely to placebo, nonspecific effects of any therapeutic method, or non-acupressure components.

Keywords: EFT; Emotional Freedom Techniques; acupressure; acupuncture points; tapping