Emotional Freedom Techniques
Alternative medicine / fringe therapies
Tapping on meridian points on the body, derived from acupuncture, can release energy blockages that cause negative emotions
Acupuncture, Acupressure, Energy medicine
Silvia Hartmann, Jack Canfield, Nick Ortner
Thought Field Therapy, Tapas Acupressure Technique
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a form of counseling intervention that draws on various theories of alternative medicine including acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, energy medicine, and Thought Field Therapy. It is best known through Gary Craig's EFT Handbook, published in the late 1990s, and related books and workshops by a variety of teachers. During a typical EFT session, the person will focus on a specific issue while tapping on "end points of the body's energy meridians". Advocates claim that the technique may be used to treat a wide variety of physical and psychological disorders, and as a simple form of self administered therapy.
The available evidence from studies done on EFT have shown that while there may be small effects from use of this technique, they are likely due to well recognized conventional psychological techniques often used with the tapping, rather than the purported "energy" mechanisms. EFT is generally characterized as pseudoscience and has not garnered significant support in clinical psychology.
According to the EFT manual, the procedure consists of the participant rating the emotional intensity of their reaction on a Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) (a Likert scale for subjective measures of distress, calibrated 0-10) then repeating an orienting affirmation while rubbing or tapping specific points on the body. Some practitioners incorporate eye movements or other tasks. The emotional intensity is then rescored and repeated until no changes are noted in the emotional intensity.
A 2009 review found "methodological flaws" in some research studies that had reported "small successes" for EFT and the related Tapas Acupressure Technique. The review concluded that positive results may be "attributable to well-known cognitive and behavioral techniques that are included with the energy manipulation. Psychologists and researchers should be wary of using such techniques, and make efforts to inform the public about the ill effects of therapies that advertise miraculous claims."
An article in the Skeptical Inquirer argued that there is no plausible mechanism to explain how the specifics of EFT could add to its effectiveness, and they have been described as unfalsifiable and therefore pseudoscientific. Evidence has not been found for the existence of meridians or other concepts involved in traditional Chinese medicine.
A Delphi poll of an expert panel of psychologists rated EFT on a scale describing how discredited EFT has been in the field of psychology. On average, this panel found EFT had a score of 3.8 on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0, with 3.0 meaning "possibly discredited" and a 4.0 meaning "probably discredited." A book examining pseudoscientific practices in psychology characterized EFT as one of a number of "fringe psychotherapeutic practices," and a psychiatry handbook states EFT has "all the hallmarks of pseudoscience."
EFT, along with its predecessor, Thought Field Therapy, has been dismissed with warnings to avoid their use by publications such as the The Skeptic's Dictionary and Quackwatch.