Research on Energy Psychology is starting to gain momentum. The following overviews some of the more interesting and useful research which has been conducted to date:
Two excellent summaries of research on Energy Psychology:
Feinstein, D. (2012). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology. 16,
Church, D. (2013) Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions. Psychology 4(8), 645-654
A summary of published research and review articles in Energy Psychology is maintained by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), on their website at: www.energypsych.org
Here is a Quick Facts document compiled by ACEP on the state of play in research which reports over 100 research studies, review articles and meta-analyses that have been published in peer reviewed journals.
Note that there have now been 3 meta analyses conducted on Energy Psychology techniques, which is the highest level of evidentiary proof available. Very few areas of psychology have conducted enough research to have even one meta analysis conducted. All of these meta analyses have found positive results.
Here is a 2016 summary of research in peer review journals in compiled by ACEP:
Specifically regarding PTSD, here is a link to research showing how effective these techniques can be:
A summary of research studies on EFT which have been published in peer-reviewed journals is maintained on the EFTUniverse website at:
I have provided the citations and abstracts for some of the more interesting published studies and current studies below.
Wells et al (2003): Random assignment to a single 30-minute session of EFT (n = 18) vs. Diaphragmatic Breathing (n = 17). EFT produced significantly greater improvement than did diaphragmatic breathing behaviourally and on three self-report measures (Fear Questionnaire, SUDS, SUDS during approach). The greater improvement for EFT was maintained, and possibly enhanced, at 6 – 9 months follow-up on the behavioural measure.
Baker and Siegel (2010): Participants randomly assigned to EFT, a Supportive Interview, or No Treatment Control. On a majority of the dependent variables, EFT showed significant decrease in fear of small animals immediately after, and again 1.38 years after, one 45-min. intervention, whereas the other two conditions did not.
Salas et al (2011): Cross-over design with participants (N=22) randomly assigned to either diaphragmatic breathing or EFT as the first treatment. EFT significantly reduced phobia-related anxiety and ability to approach the feared stimulus whether presented as an initial treatment or following diaphragmatic breathing. When presented as the initial treatment, the effects of EFT remained through the presentation of the comparison intervention.
Trauma and PTSD:
Karatzias et al (2011): Randomised controlled comparison of EMDR (n = 23) vs EFT (n = 23) for PTSD. The participants were assessed at baseline and then reassessed after an 8-week waiting period. Two further blind assessments were conducted at posttreatment and 3-months follow-up. Overall, the results indicated that both interventions produced significant therapeutic gains at posttreatment and follow-up in an equal number of sessions. Similar treatment effect sizes were observed in both treatment groups. Regarding clinical significant changes, a slightly higher proportion of patients in the EMDR group produced substantial clinical changes compared with the EFT group.
Church, Hawk, et al (2011): Military Veterans randomized to 6 x 1-hr sessions of EFT (n = 30) or wait-list (n = 29). Measures: PTSD Checklist-Military (PCL-M) + Symptom Assessment 45 (SA-45), which has 2 global scales and 9 subscales for conditions such as anxiety and depression. WL and EFT groups were compared pre- and posttest (at 1 month for WL group, after 6 sessions for EFT). EFT participants had significantly less psychological distress on the global and on all but one of subscales on the SA-45 (p<0.0002) and the PTSD total score (p<0.0001) at posttest. 90% of the EFT group no longer met PTSD clinical criteria vs. 4% in the WL. Following the wait-period, WL participants received the EFT intervention. In a within-subjects longitudinal analysis, 60% no longer met PTSD clinical criteria after 3 sessions. This increased to 86% after 6 sessions, and remained at 86% on 3-month follow-up. Statistically significant decreases in psychological distress and PTSD total scores were present after 6 sessions (p<0.0001), and remained stable at follow-up.
Sakai, et al (2010): 50 orphaned teens suffering with symptoms of PTSD since the Rwandan genocide. Following a single TFT session, scores on a PTSD checklist completed by caretakers and on a self-rated PTSD checklist had significantly decreased (p < .0001 on both measures). The number of participants exceeding the PTSD cutoffs decreased from 100% to 6% on the caregiver ratings and from 72% to 18% on the self-ratings. Improvements were maintained at 1-year follow-up
Church (2010): 11 combat veterans or family members, 9 had been diagnosed with PTSD and 2 exhibited symptoms of PTSD. Pre- and post-treatment scores on the PCL-M (military version of the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist ) were significantly reduced (p < .01) after 10 to 15 hours of EFT during an intensive five-day treatment period. Improvements held on one-month, three-month, and one-year follow-ups
(Church, Geronilla, & Dinter, 2009): Seven veterans (four who had been deployed in the Iraq war, two in Vietnam, and one who suffered from PTSD after sexual assaults) completed a well-validated pre-treatment inventory that detects the presence and severity of a range of psychological symptoms. Following six EFT treatment sessions the severity of symptoms decreased by 46% (p < .001) and the PTSD scores decreased by 50% (p < .016). Gains were maintained at three-month follow-up.
(Folkes, 2002): Twenty-nine low-income refugees and immigrants living in the United States were categorized as having the symptoms of PTSD based on exceeding a cut-off score on the Civilian Postrauamtic Checklist (PCL-C). After one to three TFT sessions, their PCL-C scores showed significantly less avoidance behaviors (p < .05), intrusive thoughts (p < .05), and hypervigilance (p < .05) than prior to treatment
Thornton, J., Wells, S., and Carter, E., 2013: 15 individuals (5 male, 10 female; age 19-72), who were experiencing posttraumatic stress symptoms as a result of an MVA, as measured by the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Scale – Self Report (PSS-SR) randomised to 2 x 90-minute sessions of SET (n = 7) vs. wait list control (n = 6). 2 did not complete. SET treatment participants reported superior outcomes on psychometric measures of posttraumatic stress (p < .05), depression (p < .01), anxiety P < .001), and stress (p < .05). For all symptoms results were statistically significant and produced very large effect sizes. Following SET treatment, participants’ subjective experiences of distress related to the MVA trauma memory were also substantially reduced (p < .001).
Sezgin, N., Ozcan, B., Church, D., (2009): 79 high school students testing high on Test Anxiety Inventory randomized to a single treatment session of EFT vs progressive muscle relaxation. Reassessed after 2 months using repeated covariance analysis. Each group completed a sample examination at the beginning and end of the study, and mean scores were computed. Thirty-two of the initial 70 subjects completed all the study’s requirements, and all statistical analyses were done on this group. A statistically significant decrease occurred in the test anxiety scores of both the experimental and control groups. The EFT group had a significantly greater decrease than the PMR group (p < .05). The scores of the EFT group were lower on the emotionality and worry subscales (p < .05). Both groups scored higher on the test examinations after treatment; though the improvement was greater for the EFT group, the difference was not statistically significant.
Benor, et al (2009): Canadian university students with severe or moderate test anxiety. A double-blind, controlled trial of (WHEE) Wholistic Hybrid derived from EMDR, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (n = 5), EFT (n =5), and CBT (n = 5) was conducted. Measures included: the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) and Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-21). Despite small sample size, significant reductions on the TAI and HSCL-21 were found for WHEE; on the TAI for EFT; and on the HSCL-21 for CBT. There were no significant differences between the scores for the three treatments. In only two sessions WHEE and EFT achieved the equivalent benefits to those achieved by CBT in five sessions.
Brattberg (2008): 86 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia and on sick leave at least 3 months randomly assigned to EFT treatment (8-week self-administered internet program) vs. wait list. Upon completion of program, statistically significant improvements were observed in the EFT group (n=26) vs wait list group (n=36) for variables such as pain, anxiety, depression, vitality, social function, mental health, performance problems involving work or other activities due to physical as well as emotional reasons, and stress symptoms. Pain catastrophizing measures, such as rumination, magnification and helplessness, were significantly reduced, and the activity level was significantly increased.
Stapleton (2011): 96 overweight or obese adults allocated to the EFT treatment (4-week x 2-hours group program) or 4-week waitlist condition. EFT was associated with a significantly greater improvement in food cravings, the subjective power of food and craving restraint than waitlist from pre- to immediately post-test (p < .05). Across collapsed groups, an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after active EFT treatment was maintained at 6 months, and a delayed effect was seen for craving restraint.
Stapleton (2011): 12 month trial currently in peer review: Across collapsed groups, an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained at 12-months, and a significant reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) occurred from pre- to 12-months.
Preliminary Report of the First Large-Scale Study of Energy Psychology
By Joaquin Andrade, MD and David Feinstein, PhD
Research program initiated in the late 1980s included various studies over a 14-year period. Principal investigator: Joaquin Andrade, M.D. Paper published in 2004, appears in Energy Psychology Interactive (Ashland, OR: Innersource) by David Feinstein in consultation with Fred Gallo, Donna Eden, & the Energy Psychology Interactive Advisory Board.
The following is a SUMMARY – The complete paper can be found online here
In preliminary clinical trials involving more than 29,000 patients from 11 allied treatment centers in South America during a 14-year period, a variety of randomized, double-blind pilot studies were conducted. In one of these, approximately 5,000 patients diagnosed at intake with an anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to an experimental group (tapping) or a control group (Cognitive Behavior Therapy/medication) using standard randomization tables and, later, computerized software. Ratings were given by independent clinicians who interviewed each patient at the close of therapy, at 1 month, at 3 months, at 6 months, and at 12 months. The raters made a determination of complete remission of symptoms, partial remission of symptoms, or no clinical response. The raters did not know if the patient received CBT/medication or tapping. They knew only the initial diagnosis, the symptoms, and the severity, as judged by the intake staff. At the close of therapy:
63% of the control group were judged as having improved.
90% of the experimental group were judged as having improved.
51% of the control group were judged as being symptom free.
76% of the experimental group were judged as symptom free.
At one-year follow-up, the patients receiving tapping treatments were less prone to relapse or partial relapse than those receiving CBT/medication, as indicated by the independent raters assessments and corroborated by brain imaging and neurotransmitter profiles. In a related pilot study by the same team, the length of treatment was substantially shorter with energy therapy and related methods than with CBT/medication (mean = 3 sessions vs. mean = 15 sessions).
The preliminary nature of these findings must be emphasized. The study was initially envisioned as an in-house assessment of a new method and not designed with publication in mind. Not all the variables that need to be controlled in robust research were tracked, not all criteria were defined with rigorous precision, the record-keeping was relatively informal, and source data were not always maintained. Nonetheless, the studies all used randomized samples, control groups, and double blind assessment. The findings were so striking that the team decided to report them.
Baker, A.H. and Siegel, L. (2010), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Reduces Intense Fears: A Partial Replication and Extension of Wells et al. (2003), Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, (2010), (2)2, p. 13-30
Benor, D.J., Ledger, K., Toussaint, L., Hett, G. & Zaccaro, D. (2009) Pilot Study of EFT, WHEE and CBT for Treatment of Test Anxiety in University Students, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, (November) 5(6), 338-340.
Brattberg, G. (2008) Self-administered EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) in Individuals with Fibromyalgia: A Randomized Trial, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, Aug/Sep, 30-35.
Church, D. (2010). The treatment of combat trauma in veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A pilot protocol. Traumatology, 16, 55-65.
Church, D., Geronilla, L., & Dinter, I. (2009). Psychological symptom change in veterans after six sessions of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): An observational study. [Electronic journal article]. International Journal of Healing and Caring, 9(1).
Church, D., Hawk, C., Books, A, Toukolehto, A., Wren, M., Dinter, I., Stein, P. Presented at the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, Washington, April 7-10, 2010. In peer review.
Psychological Trauma in Veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A Randomized Controlled Trial
Karatzias, T., Power, K., Brown, K., McGoldrick, T., Begum, M., Young, J., Loughran, P., Chouliara, Z., Adams, S. (2011), A Controlled Comparison of the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Two Psychological Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing vs. Emotional Freedom Techniques, Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 199 (6) 372-378
Sakai, C.E., Connolly, S.M.., & Oas, Ph. (2010), Treatment of PTSD in Rwandan Child Genocide Survivors Using Thought Field Therapy, International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 12(1), 41-50.
Salas, M., Brooks, A.J. and Rowe, J.E. (2011), The Immediate Effect of a Brief Energy Psychology Intervention (EFT) on Specific Phobias: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 7(3)
Sezgin, N., Ozcan, B., Church, D., (2009), The Effect of Two Psychophysiological Techniques (Progressive Muscular Relaxation and Emotional Freedom Techniques) on Test Anxiety in High School Students: A Randomized Blind Controlled Study, International Journal of Healing and Caring, Jan 2009, 9:1.
Stapleton, P., Sheldon, T, Porter, B., & Whitty, J, (2011)A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Meridian-Based Intervention for Food Cravings with Six Month Follow-up, Behavior Change, 28(1), 1-16.
Thornton, J., Carter, E, Wells, S, and Oostindier, A.F. (2011). Simple Energy Techniques for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Secondary to Motor Vehicle Accidents: A Randomised Control Trial. Currently being submitted for peer review.
Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews, H. B., Carrington, P. & Baker, A. H. (2003),
Evaluation of a Meridian-Based Intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for Reducing Specific Phobias of Small Animals, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 59(9), 943-966.