Back to top

Acupoint Stimulation In Treating Psychological Disorders: Evidence Of Efficacy

Feinstein (2012) Review Paper on Acupoint Stimulation for the Treatment of Psychological Disorders; Evidence of Efficacy

Citation: Feinstein, D. (2012). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of Efficacy. Review of General Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028602 Click here to read Abstract and Full Paper PDF http://goo.gl/brTBAQ (Note: This version may not exactly replicate the version published in the APA journal. It is not the “copy of record.”)

Abstract

Energy psychology is a clinical and self-help modality that combines verbal and physical procedures for effecting therapeutic change. While utilizing established clinical methods such as exposure and cognitive restructuring, the approach also incorporates concepts and techniques from non-Western healing systems. Its most frequently utilized protocols combine the stimulation of acupuncture points (by tapping on, holding, or massaging them) with the mental activation of a targeted psychological issue. Energy psychology has been controversial, in part due to its reliance on explanatory mechanisms that are outside of conventional clinical frameworks and in part because of claims by its early proponents—without adequate research support—of extraordinary speed and power in attaining positive clinical outcomes. This paper revisits some of the field’s early claims, as well as current practices, and assesses them in the context of existing evidence. A literature search identified 51 peer-reviewed papers that report or investigate clinical outcomes following the tapping of acupuncture points to address psychological issues. The 18 randomized controlled trials in this sample were critically evaluated for design quality, leading to the conclusion that they consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions. Criteria for evidence-based treatments proposed by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association were also applied and found to be met for a number of conditions, including PTSD and depression. Neurological mechanisms that may be involved in these surprisingly strong findings are also considered.

Editor’s Note

This is an excellent, thorough and perhaps the best review of the EFT/Energy Psychology research literature to date, authored  by David Feinstein, PhD, psychologist/author, discussing research regarding tapping modalities for PTSD, specific phobias, public speaking and test-taking anxiety, depression, generalized anxiety and other psychological symptoms, pain/physical illness, weight control and athletic performance. He reviews the quality of the RCTs, the use of objective measures, the use of placebo, blinding and follow up investigation, effect size and possible mechanisms.