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Clinical EFT as an Evidence-Based Practice for the Treatment of Psychological and Physiological Conditions

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Author(s): Dawson Church

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 04;
Issue: 08;
Start page: 645;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Research | Evidence-Based | Emotional Freedom Techniques | EFT | Exposure | Cognitive Therapy | Acupressure | Placebo

ABSTRACT
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) has moved in the past two decades from a fringe therapy to widespread professional acceptance. This paper defines Clinical EFT, the method validated in many research studies, and shows it to be an “evidence-based” practice. It describes standards by which therapies may be evaluated, such as those of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 12 Task Force, and reviews the studies showing that Clinical EFT meets these criteria. Several research domains are discussed, summarizing studies of: 1) psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); 2) physiological problems such as pain and autoimmune conditions; 3) professional and sports performance; and 4) the physiological mechanisms of action of Clinical EFT. The paper lists the conclusions that may be drawn from this body of evidence, which includes 23 randomized controlled trials and 17 within-subjects studies. The three essential ingredients of Clinical EFT are described: exposure, cognitive shift, and acupressure. The latter is shown to be an essential ingredient in EFT’s efficacy, and not merely a placebo. New evidence from emerging fields such as epigenetics, neural plasticity, psychoneuroimmunology, and evolutionary biology confirms the central link between emotion and physiology, and points to somatic stimulation as the element common to emerging psychotherapeutic methods. The paper outlines the next steps in EFT research, such as smartphone-based data gathering, large-scale group therapy, and the use of biomarkers. It concludes that Clinical EFT is a stable and mature method with an extensive evidence base. These characteristics have led to growing acceptance in primary care settings as a safe, rapid, reliable, and effective treatment for both psychological and medical diagnoses. 
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