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A Feasibility Study of Emotional Freedom Technique Taught in the Curriculum for Secondary School Students, to Reduce Stress and Test Anxiety and Enhance Coping Skills

Citation: Ledger, K., A feasibility study of emotional freedom technique taught in the curriculum for secondary school students to reduce stress and test anxiety and enhance coping skills. Intl J of Healing and Caring, 11.2019, vol. 19,3.\

Full pdf available for download at: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/891f98f6/files/uploaded/Ledger-19-3F.pdf

Abstract

Objective: This 2008 Feasibility Study explored the impact of teaching Emotional Freedom Technique(EFT) as part of class curriculum for Secondary School students, as a self-care tool for reducing stress and test anxiety and for enhancing
coping skills.

Participants: Canadian students at a Secondary School taking Planning 10 courses, with combined Grades 10, 11 & 12, (n = 138) participated in the study. All students received the EFT training as part of class curriculum, and completed all the questionnaires.

Methods: An initial controlled trial of EFT for 2 class groups (total n = 44) is compared to no treatment for 2 class groups (total n = 43). Standardized quantitative measures were taken of stress (Perceived Stress Scale) coping strategies (Brief COPE) and test anxiety (Westside TA), prior to Intervention; one week after the first class; and following the completion of the EFT training sessions.

Following the Controlled Study and prior to Christmas exams, the “No Treatment” classes were given the same number of hours training in EFT as the Intervention Group. A fifth class which could not be used in the controlled study, was taught EFT during the initial time period. Because all students had to participate in the EFT training to get school credit, Quantitative measures were taken for all students at all time periods; including just after the EFT training of the control groups prior to Christmas break, and before Provincial Exams in January. An 18 item, anonymous, Quantitative questionnaire was administered at the conclusion of the EFT training for all Groups,.

Results: Putting together a research proposal, designing the study; jumping through the hoops of permissions, and institution rules; carrying out the interventions; collecting the data and reporting the results are all monumental tasks. Things can go wrong at any juncture, and often do. However, the one issue I didn’t think would occur was that the Quantitative Data would be virtually useless. I was also surprised by the wide range of response and results of the various Class Groups, as detailed below, given that they were all offered almost identical EFT training. Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, none of the Quantitative Data could
be considered clearly valid. There were two main reasons. 1. The Principal Investigators were not notified that many of the students would not be taking exams during the trial period and approximately 25% of the foreign students did not have to write exams at all. This meant that collecting data on Test Anxiety was irrelevant for many. 2. Contamination of the Quantitative questionnaires occurred with some students checking off multiple choice answers in “patterns” on the answer checkboxes, and it was not clear how many other students had done this, but perhaps not in as blatant a manner as to be detected. This data loss was exceedingly disappointing for all involved.

Fortunately, valuable findings were still gleaned from student responses to the 18 item Qualitative Questionnaire, submitted anonymously by all students at the end of EFT Study. Perhaps because these surveys encouraged both positive and negative
feedback and could not be tracked to individuals, the students appeared to be more open and direct – (sometimes brutally). But they offered useful and constructive information on many levels. Most encouraging was that 67% of students recommended that EFT be taught in schools; 63% indicated they could benefit from learning EFT in smaller groups, and 33% indicated they would be interested in
having 1:1 assistance from a Counsellor using EFT. While some students were resistant to the EFT classes, the majority shared clear
examples of how they had taken their EFT skills into coping with: homework, studying, assignments, and sports and arts performances. In addition, some were able to expand their use of EFT to family and social relationships, and other issues outside the school setting, which was clear evidence of enhanced coping skills.

Conclusions: The teaching of EFT in schools can benefit some students; particularly those who are motivated to learn it due to need or interest. It is recommended that more research, investigation and refinement of teaching EFT in schools, to a range of grades; to whole classes and to smaller groups of students seeking specific help for anxiety and stress be undertaken.

Craig’s Notes:

The opportunity of offering EFT as a stress reduction/self-regulation technique to students is timely and important. The study’s author, Karen Ledger, an EFT practitioner and educator in Canada, took on the task of creating an introductory protocol in a school system with multiple classes of high school students (grades 10-12) during a stressful pre-examination time period, introducing and teaching EFT to 5 separate classes in 4 consecutive weekly interventions. This was designed as a feasibility study to get feedback and explore the effectiveness of integrating tapping into a high school academic setting. The author clearly admits to data collection difficulties, peer influences and other factors which are both unfortunate and enlightening. Many school systems and EFT practitioners are currently exploring  best practices and program design as to how to most effectively (methods, school year, fequency, etc) implement stress reduction techniques to students who are susceptible to academic stressors resulting in a variety of anxiety related episodes, whether it be due to peer pressures, teacher expectations, school work load/grades/exams as well as family conflicts, relationship and health issues and more.

Here are some notable takeaways:

  • 31% of all students taught EFT used EFT to help prepare for tests or exams.
  • 25% of all the students found EFT had helped them with writing tests or (in class) exams.
  • The majority suggested that EFT should be introduced in Grades 3 – 6, when “students would be less self-conscious” and “more open to participating,”
  • 32% of all the students used EFT to help with sports, dance, music and/or theatre performances
  • 24% of all the students found EFT helped them with self-acceptance.
  • 30% of all the students found EFT helped them with both academic and non -academic stressors
  • 33% of all the students would take the opportunity to work 1:1 with a counselor in a private session
  • 63% of all the students indicated it might be easier to learn EFT on smaller groups.
  • 67% of all the students thought it was a good idea to offer EFT training in schools

In summary, while the study itself had technical difficulties and was unable to display documented statistical significance, I believe it served its purpose as an exploration of the feasibility of introducing EFT into a classroom situation. Hopefully lessons learned and coordination with other educational classroom settings could use the information gleaned with this study and stand on its shoulders in order to provide further stress reduction tools for primary and secondary school students to offer them emotional and psychological support to balance the inherent stressors that children in school face.