Legal Considerations for Marketing Your EFT Practice
I will say that this is a critically important subject for EFT practitioners and one that is often ignored or dismissed. It can be confronting and feel overwhelming. But let’s proceed forward knowing that tapping is an excellent resource for calming anxious feelings.
From the outset, let me say that I am neither an attorney nor do I have a legal degree. That being said, I rely on the legal advice of counsel when it comes to such matters, as that is their arena of expertise, just like EFT is mine. So my purpose in this article is not to offer legal advice but to offer insights that we have gained from mentoring and coaching EFT practitioners on how to market their EFT business ethically, with legal considerations in mind and with integrity. While there are many important issues surrounding the ethics of an EFT practice, including informed consent, proper referral, scope of practice, etc., this article will focus purely on marketing considerations.
I will be honest with you. When I look around the internet at EFT practitioner websites, I often find myself cringing. I don’t mean that the graphics or look of the website is unappealing; it frightens me as to how legally vulnerable they make themselves. A very high majority of websites have significant factors which are problems from a legal risk management perspective. I see guarantees results, I find diagnoses listed that the practitioner treats, an absence of disclaimers, improper/illegal use of copyright images, violations of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advertising regulations, and more. I think the illusion that “if other people are doing it so can I”, runs rampant. Just because you have not been contacted by an attorney or board or the FTC yet does not mean that it cannot or will not happen.
When Things Happen
Yet it does happen. In fact, Roger Callahan, the founder of Thought Field Therapy (aka TFT and was the original tapping approach that Gary Craig developed EFT from) had a run-in with the FTC. He had to sign a consent decree and pay a $50,000 fine for violating FTC regulations regarding a website he had featuring TFT.
On a personal note, a while back we learned an important lesson when we were contacted by Getty Images about our use of ONE of their images we found on a Google search and had used on a blog years ago and were told that they had the right to fine us hundreds of dollars for every MONTH that the image had been on our website. Fortunately we were able to settle for only a fraction of that amount.
EFT, Energy Healing and other alternative health practitioners often act as if they live outside the scope of advertising laws. Given the fact that many of them, (including most tapping practitioners) receive minimal information education about ethical marketing, this lack of knowledge is often reflected blatantly on many a website. Inappropriate marketing and advertising is a huge problem in the EFT world as it can include the misrepresentation of qualifications of the practitioner, misleading use of EFT research in the passionate attempt to excite potential clients about EFT and its effectiveness, and false claims all of which have the potential to create harm to both client and practitioner.
I tip my hat to our “go to” professional in this arena, Midge Murphy. She is a Professional Liability Risk Management Consultant and was the first attorney to receive her PhD in Energy Medicine, and as such understands both the law and the healing arts. She has created risk management programs that I think are so important that we have included her program within our EFT Marketing and Business Academy coaching training. She has been a great mentor of mine and I am a big fan of her work. She is also the author of the book, Practice Energy Healing in Integrity; the Joy of Offering Your Gifts Legally and Ethically. Some of the material in this article is drawn from her book. I realize that many who will be reading this article live outside of the United States. While many will consider the U.S. to be extremely litigious and perhaps overly extreme with legal considerations, each nation has their own licensing and advertising laws and practice regulations that should be explored by each practitioner. In the US, considerations can vary state to state and profession by profession. My advice is to implement strategies that adhere to the strongest of considerations, especially if you offer sessions in distant locations where clients reside in different state or national domains. Many EFT practitioners are not aware that they are not only subject to the laws and regulations where they practice but also the laws and regulations where the client is located.
An Important distinction needs to be made as to whether an EFT practitioner is a licensed provider or not, such as a licensed social worker, counselor, acupuncturist etc. Professional practice boards usually offer clear guidelines as to what and how practice marketing may or may not allow. Unlicensed EFT practitioners do not have a licensing board but that does not mean that there are not lines that if crossed, cannot get them in big trouble. For example, many unlicensed EFT practitioners face the risk of being charged with practicing a licensed profession without a license because of how they describe their services on their website.
As Midge states in her book, “Both licensed and non-licensed practitioners are subject to legal liability for fraud and misrepresentation in their practices…misrepresentation claims can arise from the practitioner committing false, misleading and/or deceptive statement or actions.” Whether you are aware of it or not, there are state practice laws, consumer protection laws and FTC regulations that are in place to keep consumers safe and free from misleading statements and practitioners. There is a task force in place in the FTC who actively reviews websites, especially about health claims and specifically targeting newly discovered therapies, such as EFT. And since EFT is not yet any part of any established standards of care, we will be looked at with suspicious eyes if attention is drawn to us in any way.
I have personally known EFT practitioners who came under such scrutiny and all I can say is that they went through emotional, financial and vocational hell for simple website transgressions on how they worded the text on their website. You don’t want to be put in that position by being careless in the ways you market your business.
Tips to consider:
- Unless you are appropriately licensed, never use words like “treat” “examine” or that you work with conditions that are diagnoses like “PTSD” “Depression” “”Arthritis” etc. You could be perceived as practicing psychotherapy or medicine without a license. Even the use of the word “Pain” as something you can help could potentially trigger an investigation because “pain” is considered a medical condition.
- Depending on where you live, the use of the titles “therapist” or “counselor” can be risky and even illegal.
- You must have a clear disclaimer on your website that is drafted specifically for the contents of the website.
- You should never offer a promised or guaranteed result of your services.
- Be careful in the use and wording of testimonials. Testimonials are viewed as implied health claims and without validated scientific proof to back up such claims; you could be at risk for investigations and fines.
There are of course more considerations but this is a start. I know, this is enough to cause many practitioners concern enough to start tapping as they read this! But it is far better to know and prepare yourself than to be at the other end of a complaint or investigation.
Now you see why it is important to have an EFT business coach who has walked the path ahead of you and learned by trial, error, omission and success! Having an attorney who understands your business that you can consult with is an obviously important team member to help you maintain your growing business.
If you are looking to establish an EFT practice with ethical and legal considerations in mind, feel free to contact us at www.EFTMBA.com to find out more.
For more information on the work and services of Midge Murphy, you can go to www.midgemurphy.com
Craig Weiner and Alina Frank