EFT Emotional Freedom Technique: the evidence for practice

Do you suffer from anxiety? Depression? PTSD? Pain? Cravings? Chronic disease? EFT will help!

EFT: the evidence for practice

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been around since the 1990s. However, acupressure dates back thousands of years. Over 100 studies have demonstrated the efficacy of EFT as an evidence-based self help therapeutic method. This article gives a brief overview of the literature illustrating this effectiveness.

The function of body systems improve

The physiological effects of EFT were studied by Bach et al (2019 Clinical EFT improves multiple physiological markers of health. Journal of Evidence Based Integrative Medicine). The researchers measured the nervous system (using the Heart Rate Variability (HRV); and Heart Coherence (HC)); circulatory system (using the Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure); the endocrine system (measuring the cortisol levels) and the immune system (measuring the Salivary Immunoglobin A (SigA)). They also measured psychological symptoms.

Significant improvements in symptoms

They also found significant declines in anxiety (40% decline), depression (35% decline), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (32% decline), pain (57% decline) and cravings (74% decline). Read that sentence again and take it in. There were HUGE improvements in all those areas! In addition to all those very positive changes in all those lives, their levels of happiness and SigA increased too, indicating improvements in their immune systems!  Significant improvements were found in HRV, cortisol and BP (systolic and diastolic). Positive trends were also found in the HRV and HC. Of great importance, they found that the positive health effects for physical and mental wellbeing were maintained on follow-up! So the circulatory system, nervous system, endocrine system and immune system showed significant improvements! You would like that, wouldn’t you?? Imagine if a medication had that effect… With no side effects… And was free!

Cortisol, the stress hormone is reduced

In addition, Church, Yount and Brooks (2012 The effects of EFT on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nerv Ment. 200:891-896) also found significant declines in the stress hormone, cortisol in their study.

Many different people benefit

Not only does EFT improve physical and mental wellbeing as shown in the above mentioned studies, but it also helps a variety of people. Systematic reviews and meta-analysis have shown EFT efficacy for both psychological and physiological symptoms. The efficacy of EFT extends to college students, veterans, pain patients, overweight people, hospital patients, athletes, health care workers, gifted students, chemotherapy patients and phobia sufferers. And they are just the groups that have been studied! It is an “evidence based” practice for depression, anxiety, phobia and PTSD according to the standards of the American Psychological Association Division 12 Task Force of Empirically Validated Treatments (Church D. Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions. Psychology. 2013).

What is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)?

EFT is a quick intervention which includes cognitive therapy, elements of exposure and somatic stimulation of acupressure points on the face and body. The subjects identify an area of concern or issue they want to address. They then rate it on a Likert Scale 0-10. 10 is the maximum amount of distress and 0 is the minimal or neutral state.  The person then states their concern or issue in a “Set Up Statement”. This tunes them into their level of distress. The Set Up Statement may be “even though I have this problem (eg anxious), I deeply and completely accept myself”. The first part is the exposure. The second part is framing the traumatizing element into self-acceptance.

Then the person taps on the acupoints on the body whilst repeating a short phrase to stay engaged (eg feeling anxious). This is the Reminder Phrase. Eight somatic tapping points are utilized in order. This is repeated until their self-rating on the Likert Scale is very low at 1 or 0.

EFT is easy to learn


A study of 5000 patients seeking treatment for anxiety over 5.5 years was conducted by Andrade and Feinstein (2004 Energy Psychology: theory, indications and evidence. Energy Psychology Interactive: Rapid Interventions for lasting change. 199-214). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is the traditional anxiety treatment used today. The patients in this large study received CBT with medication if needed, or acupoint tapping with no medication. A whopping 90% of patients improved in the EFT group versus 63% of the CBT patients.

Three EFT sessions were needed before their anxiety decreased while an average of fifteen sessions of CBT were required. An amazing 76% of people in the EFT group obtained compete relief of their symptoms compared with 51% in the CBT group. Importantly, 78% of the EFT group maintained these improvements one year later, compared to 69% of the CBT group.

In another study, health care workers with anxiety, depression, pain and cravings were researched. They self-applied EFT and were found to have significant improvements on all subscales of distress, pain ratings, emotional distress, and cravings after a two hour EFT session. The severity and range of psychological symptoms were reduced with this maintained at later follow up (Church and Brookes 2010 The effect of a brief EFT self-intervention on anxiety, depression, pain and cravings in health care workers. Integrative Medicine Clinical Journal 9(5):40-44).


Many studies have shown the benefits of EFT for depression also.  After a brief EFT intervention for depression in college students those who had the EFT had significantly less depression than those who did not have EFT. The control group had the same level of depression before and after no treatment (Church De Asis, Brooks 2012 Brief group intervention using EFT for depression in college students.: a randomized controlled trial. Depress Red Treat).

CBT or EFT was conducted on ten patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Eight weeks (sixteen hours total) of group treatments for either EFT or CBT were conducted and both groups experienced significant reductions in their depressive symptoms. However, the CBT group improvements were not maintained over time. The significant improvements in symptoms from the EFT group participants was maintained at three and six month follow-ups (Chatwin, Stapleton, Porter, Devine, Sheldon 2016 The effectiveness of CBT and EFT in reducing depression and anxiety among adults: a pilot study. Integrative Medicine (Encinitas) 15(2):27-34).

Chronic diseases

Furthermore, there have been numerous studies showing that a variety of chronic disease patients may benefit also considering the physiological changes that occur from EFT. Physical conditions which have been studied and found to have benefited from EFT include fibromyalgia, psoriasis, tension headaches, frozen shoulder, pulmonary injuries, chronic pain, chemotherapy side effects, traumatic brain injury, insomnia and seizure disorders (Bach et al Clinical EFT improves multiple physiological markers of health. Journal of Evidence based integrative medicine. 2019.24).

In conclusion, there is an abundance of research illustrating the effectiveness of using EFT in a variety of settings for a variety of both psychological and psychological benefits. And it is easy to learn and to do yourself, and therefore very cost effective.

After reading this short article please consider learning EFT yourself and begin to reap the benefits.

EFT can be done by yourself at home or anywhere!