My Reply to NZ Listener Articles on EFT Tapping July 2013
Last month I mentioned a negative article by a Victoria University psychology lecturer that appeared in the Listener about tapping based on his brief reading of one website and one research article comparing Thought Field Therapy (the technique EFT was founded on) unfavourably with EMDR, though he didn’t seem to find either very impressive. Following a flood of responses from EFT enthusiasts around the country (thanks for that J) the author has written a follow up article explaining that (in his opinion) there just isn’t enough reliable evidence to support using EFT. He continues to say that doesn’t mean Tapping doesn’t work, only that
EFT doesn’t have enough competent research yet to prove tapping has statistically better outcomes than other treatments, no treatment or ‘sham’ treatments.
While it’s true EFT research is still in its infancy (most research has occurred in the last 4 years), the indications so far are that EFT is indeed very effective for a number of problems and results gained are consistent and long lasting. Author Marc Wilson doesn’t mention that EFT has been researched in more than 10 countries, by more than 60 investigators, whose results have been published in more than 20 different peer-reviewed journals. These include distinguished top-tier journals such as Journal of Clinical Psychology, the APA journals Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training and Review of General Psychology, and the oldest psychiatric journal in North America, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. EFT research includes investigators affiliated with many different institutions. In the US, these range from Harvard Medical School, to the University of California at Berkeley, to City University of New York, to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, to Texas A&M University, to JFK University. Institutions in other countries whose faculty have contributed to EFT research include Lund University (Sweden), Ankara University (Turkey), Santo Tomas University (Philippines), Lister Hospital (England), Cesar Vallejo University (Peru), and Griffith University (Australia). The wide variety of institutions, peer-reviewed journals, investigators, and settings that have, in independent research, found EFT to be efficacious, are one indication of the breadth of existing research results.
We have to yet prove tapping is more effective that just placebo
A placebo is a sham therapy administered to a patient to compare its effects with those of a real treatment. The degree of placebo effect averages around 35% (this is an average and the effect results can vary widely depending on treatment and therapeutic alliance – see below). Given the statistically high success rates with EFT treatments it would have to be a brilliant placebo and one I’d willingly recommend to my clients!
Research results are may be due to experimenter bias – researchers seeing what they want to see in the results
One purpose of replicating research at different places with different researchers is to ensure results are consistent. A number of such studies have been completed with EFT showing consistent results and more are under way.
We haven’t yet proved the research results are due to tapping and not due to therapeutic alliance (the relationship between practitioner and client)
A number of positive studies have been done on self applied EFT – ie no practitioner involved and this would indicate that EFT’s effectiveness is not only due to therapeutic alliance.
One of EFT’s great strengths is its ability to help practitioners form strong therapeutic alliances due to the nature of the mirroring with tapping and the use of the clients own words and statements during a session (amongst other things). If all EFT does is build strong alliances that support fast, long term results that would be great, but we know from the self tapping studies there is more to it than that.
Marc goes on to say that he favors CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) which research has shown to be more effective than can be explained by the above factors and there is not yet enough evidence to show that tapping is more effective than CBT or other established therapies, and that even when there are apparent benefits (from using EFT) those benefits may not come from the tapping itself. You’ve heard the saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” ?
Academically Marc’s appropriate to express some professional caution about the results of EFT research so far but, in my humble opinion, remiss I think to not mention the generally positive research findings to date.
Want to know more?
Check out the research and articles for yourself using the links in the sidebar and share your thoughts with Marc and the Listener
EFT Research Links
If you’d like to investigate the EFT research for yourself use these links:
Acupoint Stimulation in Treating Psychological Disorders: Evidence of Efficacy A scholarly review of the evidence bearing upon the effectiveness of Energy Psychology published in Review of General Psychology (a flagship journal of the American Psychological Association):
http://www.eftuniverse.com (click “Research” in the sidebar).
The same website documents several thousand case reports submitted by EFT users & practitioners worldwide