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Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a psychotherapeutic tool based on a theory that negative emotions are caused by disturbances in the body's energy field and that tapping on the meridians while thinking of a negative emotion alters the body's energy field, restoring it to "balance." There are two studies which appear to show positive outcomes from use of the technique, but another study has suggested that it is indistinguishable from the placebo effect. Critics have described the theory behind EFT as pseudoscientific and have suggested that its utility stems from its more traditional cognitive components, such as distraction from negative thoughts, rather than from manipulation of energy meridians.

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EFT was created by Gary Craig in the mid 1990s, and is meant to be a simplification and improvement of Roger Callahan's Thought Field Therapy techniques. Craig trained with Callahan in the early 1990s. In 1993, Craig was the first person Callahan trained in his most advanced procedure, a proprietary procedure known as Voice Technology. Craig found through his experience that the sequence of tapping points did not matter and that special proprietary procedures were therefore unnecessary, so by the mid 1990s he had simplified Callahan's procedures. According to the EFT website, Gary Craig was removed "for administrative reasons" as of October 31, 2007 and the organization was taken over by 29 Master Practitioners.[citation needed]


Proponents of EFT claim it relieves many psychological and physical conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, general stress, addictions and phobias. More extreme claims have been made for multiple sclerosis and one proponent claims that "you can also use it for everything from the common cold to cancer.'" [1] The basic EFT technique involves holding a disturbing memory or emotion in mind and simultaneously using the fingers to tap on a series of 12 specific points on the body that correspond to meridians used in Chinese medicine. The theory behind EFT is that negative emotions are caused by disturbances in the body's energy field and that tapping on the meridians while thinking of a negative emotion alters the body's energy field, restoring it to "balance."

The theory states that negative emotions are built in the following stages: A negative experience occurs; negative emotions are felt in response to this negative experience, leading to inappropriate programming inside the body; and then the body's energy system gets disrupted due to these negative emotions. The contention of EFT is that in order to remove the negative responses, tackling the negative experience is not enough, because doing so cannot correct the energy imbalance. Rather, the energy imbalance must be restored along with curing the negative emotions.

The main difference between EFT and TFT lies not in principles, but in application. In TFT, a specific sequence of tapping points (known as an algorithm) is used for a particular problem. This sequence is determined using muscle testing, a procedure also used by applied kinesiology.

In EFT, the order and sequence of tapping points is deemed to be unimportant, and therefore there are no individual algorithms for different problems. Instead, a comprehensive algorithm is used for all problems, and no diagnosis or muscle testing is required.[2]


EFT has been the subject of three peer-reviewed publications as of 2007.

The first study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2003 (indexed in the Medline database) and funded by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, involved 35 patients with a phobia of small animals receiving a single treatment with EFT. The authors concluded that:

The findings are largely consistent with the hypothesis that EFT can reduce phobias of small animals in a single treatment session. However, due to methodological limitations in the present study, firm conclusions about the efficacy of EFT must wait for confirmation from future studies.[3]

The second study, published in The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice in 2003 (indexed in the PsycInfo database), was conducted by Waite and Holder on 119 University students who reported specific fears or phobias.[4] This study compared four groups: A group that received regular EFT; a second group that tapped on sham points that were not EFT points; a third group that tapped on an inanimate object (a doll) and a fourth group that received no treatment. The first three groups did statistically better than the fourth group, but there were no significant differences between the three tapping groups. That is, the groups that tapped on sham points and on the doll did just as well as the EFT group, but all three groups did better than the no-treatment group. Since the group that used the doll was not tapping on meridian points yet still benefited equally, the authors suggested this as a falsification of the theory that EFT works because of the body's energy meridian system.

The third study, published in Counseling and Clinical Psychology in 2005 (an erratically published journal not included in either the PsycInfo or Medline databases), a psychological test called the SA-45 was used to test the levels of psychological distress on 102 participants of an experiential Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) workshop and to examine the long-term effects. The SA-45 was given before the workshop, after the workshop, 1 month after the workshop, and 6 months after the workshop. There was a statistically significant decrease in all measures of psychological distress as measured by the SA-45 from pre-workshop to post-workshop which held up at the 6 month follow-up.[5] However, this study merely shows that there was a positive effect of attending the workshop.


EFT has been labeled as pseudoscience in The Skeptical Inquirer magazine, based on what the journal describes as its lack of falsifiability, reliance on anecdotal evidence, and aggressive promotion via the Internet.[6] Gary Craig, the developer of EFT, has argued that tapping anywhere on the body will manipulate "energy meridians". Skeptics have asserted that such an argument renders EFT untestable via the scientific method, and therefore a pseudoscience.[6][7] This argument is also addressed by the Waite and Holder paper, in which the participants tapped on a doll, rather than themselves. Waite and Holder have suggested that EFT's successes are likely to stem from "characteristics it shares with more traditional therapies", rather than manipulation of energy meridians via tapping.[4] A recent article in the Guardian suggested that the act of tapping parts of the body in a complicated sequence acts as a distraction from, and therefore can appear to alleviate the root distress.[8]


  1. ^ EFT web site newcomer claims.
  2. ^ The Evolution of EFT From TFT, from Gary Craig's website. Accessed 5 Feb 2007.
  3. ^ Wells S, Polglase K, Andrews H, Carrington P, Baker A (2003). "Evaluation of a meridian-based intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for reducing specific phobias of small animals". J Clin Psychol 59 (9): 943-66. PMID 12945061.
  4. ^ a b Wendy L. Waite and Mark D. Holder (2003). "Assessment of the Emotional Freedom Technique: An Alternative Treatment for Fear". The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 2 (1).
  5. ^ Jack E. Rowe, The Effects of EFT on Long-Term Psychological Symptoms. Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Volume 2, Issue 3 September 2005, (pp. 104-111), ISSN: 1545-4452 (online)1931-2091 (print)
  6. ^ a b Brandon A. Gaudiano and James D. Herbert (2000). "Can we really tap our problems away?". The Skeptical Inquirer 24 (4).
  7. ^ TFT's Pseudoscience Cousins. Accessed 5 Feb 2007.
  8. ^ Oliver Burkeman. "Happy Talk", Guardian Monthly, March 2007. 

Further reading

  • Dr. Silvia Hartmann (1999). Adventures in EFT; DragonRising Publishing.
  • Dr. Silvia Hartmann (2003). The Advanced Patterns of EFT; DragonRising Publishing.
  • Ananga Sivyer (2000). The Art and Science of Emotional Freedom; DragonRising Publishing.
  • Dr. Fred Gallo (2000). Energy Psychology; CRC Press.
  • David Feinstein, Donna Eden, Gary Craig (2006). The Healing Power of EFT and Energy Psychology: Revolutionary Methods for Dramatic Personal Change; Piatkus Books.
  • Stanford professor William A. Tiller Ph.D. (1997). Science and Human Transformation: Subtle Energies, Intentionality and Consciousness; Pavior Publishing.
  • Gillian Tarawhiti(2006). Gain Back Your Life with EFT;.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Emotional_Freedom_Techniques". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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