Is EFT basically just a gimmick?

by Erika
(Copperopolis, CA)

I find it believable that repeating the types of phrases used in EFT, and having your therapist touch you, could be useful in treating depression. But is there any evidence that the sequenced meridian tapping makes any difference? Or is it perhaps more for "show" -- a useful gimmick that works as a placebo, by convincing the patient that therapy is "more than just talk."

I looked for peer-reviewed, properly-controlled scientific journal articles on the topic, and didn't find any. Doing therapy with and without a tapping session is not a controlled study, as the patients are aware of what group they're in, and probably want to please their therapist, whether consciously or subconsciously.

What convinced you that this technique works, and that tapping along the meridian is necessary for it to work? I'm curious what outcome you would predict, if the following study were done:

1000 people with the same symptoms get identical talk therapy sessions that end with either a real or a "mock" tapping session. None of the patients are familiar with tapping before starting the study. The mock tapping session would consist of the same repetition of phrases for the same period of time as the real sessions, but the patient would be tapped in irrelevant, "non-meridian" locations. I predict there would be no difference at all between the groups. What do you think?

Ben's response:

Thanks for your skepticism Erika. I appreciate the questions. I've been using EFT for about 8 years and in my 23 years of working in the mental health field have never found anything quite like it for helping people. I used to find myself often feeling very poorly equipped to help to truly alleviate a person's emotional pain when they were intensely overwhelmed or unable to let go of something. I could be reassuring, calming and they might feel better talking to me, but it would not necessarily go away for good. It might even feel worse by the end of a session. I've found tapping to often transform a person's emotional state very quickly and completely. More complex trauma can take considerably more time, but it depends on the situation. Of course there is no magic technique that works for every person, for every issue.

I have often had just as much success with highly skeptical people as with those that come in believing that EFT is credible. So it is not placebo. I have also used it with my own kids since before they could speak and it has been more calming than anything I've used with them as a parent.

By the way, most therapists do not touch their clients - meaning they do not tap on the client. Rather the client taps on their own acupressure points as the therapist leads them through he sequence.

There are to date about 60 peer reviewed studies on EFT and Tapping. Many published in major psych journals. The American Psychological Association has finally accepting EFT as a legitimate therapy in which PhD's can receive continuing education. And one of the most world-renowned experts in the field of Traumatology - Bessel van der Kolk, MD has now adopted EFT as an effective new therapy in the treatment of PTSD along with more established techniques like EMDR.

For a full list of research studies on EFT and more information about the broader field of Energy Psychology, visit The Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP):

As with anything, taking a casual do-it-yourself approach, or trying EFT with someone who is not very experienced with it, may yield uncertain results. I realize it looks weird to some people. But truly, using this in a clinical way with an experienced person can often yield life changing results.

All the Best,

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