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Assessment of the Emotional Freedom Technique: An Alternative Treatment for Fear; Waite & Holder 2003

Citation: Waite, L.W. & Holder, M.D. (2003). Assessment of the Emotional Freedom Technique: An alternative treatment for fear. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 2(1), 20-26. Click here to read the Abstract and Full Paper


The effectiveness of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a treatment for anxiety and fear, was assessed. One hundred nineteen university students were assigned and tested in an independent four-group design. The groups differed in the treatment each received: applied treatment of EFT (Group EFT); a placebo treatment (Group P); a modeling treatment (Group M); and a control (Group C). Participants’ self-reported baseline and post-treatment ratings of fear were measured. Group EFT showed a significant decrease in self-report measures at post-treatment. However, Group P and Group M showed a similar significant decrease. Group C did not show a significant decrease in post-treatment fear ratings. These results do not support the idea that the purported benefits of EFT are uniquely dependent on the “tapping of meridians.” Rather, these results suggest that the reported effectiveness of EFT is attributable to characteristics it shares with more traditional therapies.

Editor’s Note

See Below for Abstract of Pasahow Waite-Holder Rebuttal Paper

Methodological problems in Waite and Holder (2003) preclude meaningful interpretations about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

Pasahow, R. (2010). Methodological problems in Waite and Holder (2003) preclude meaningful interpretations about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 2(2), 57-72. doi:10.9769.EPJ.2010.2.2.RP

Click Here for Abstract and link to paper


Energy psychology (EP) represents a paradigm for the treatment of mental health problems. A number of studies and case reports have demonstrated its efficacy in reducing psychological conflicts and symptoms. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are the most extensively researched model of EP. For EFT to be classified as an empirically based treatment according to American Psychological Association (APA) Division 12 Task Force criteria, research needs to demonstrate its efficacy in a number of experimental and clinical settings. It is also necessary to provide alternative explanations when experimental data are interpreted as disproving major hypotheses. In Waite and Holder’s (2003) study on EFT, inclusion of two sham treatment groups and a control group attempted to isolate the factors that cause symptom reduction. Initial reviewers interpreted these data as disproving the fundamental hypothesis of EFT. The APA’s Continuing Education Committee cited this study as 1 factor for disputing the scientific basis of EFT. Subsequent analyses have interpreted this study as being supportive of EFT hypotheses. However, numerous statistical omissions, incorrect applications of EFT procedures, and insufficient treatment time preclude meaningful conclusions regarding EFT. The only dependent variable was participants’ fear ratings, which many researchers do not consider an adequate outcome measure. Multidimensional assessments would have provided more precise data and limited how much demand characteristics influenced the results.