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Brief Group Intervention Using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for Depression in College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial; Church, DeAsis & Brooks, 2012

Four 90 Minute Group EFT Sessions in RCT Trial Reveals Significant Decrease in Depression Scores

Citation: Church, D., De Asis, M., & Brooks, A. J. (2012). Brief group intervention using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for depression in college students: A randomized controlled trial. Depression Research & Treatment, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/257172 Click here to read Abstract and Full Paper


Two hundred thirty-eight first-year college students were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Thirty students meeting the BDI criteria for moderate to severe depression were randomly assigned to either a treatment or control group.

The treatment group received four 90-minute group sessions of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a novel treatment that combines exposure, cognitive reprocessing, and somatic stimulation. The control group received no treatment. Posttests were conducted 3 weeks later on those that completed all requirements (N=18). The EFT group (n=9) had significantly more depression at baseline than the control group (n=9) (EFT BDI mean = 23.44, SD = 21 versus control BDI mean = 20.33, SD = 2.1). After controlling for baseline BDI score, the EFT group had significantly less depression than the control group at posttest, with a mean score in the “non-depressed” range (P = .001;EFT BDI mean = 6.08, SE = 1.8 versus control BDI mean = 18.04, SE = 1.8).). Cohen’s d was 2.28, indicating a very strong effect size.

These results are consistent with those noted in other studies of EFT that included an assessment for depression and indicate the clinical usefulness of EFT as a brief, cost-effective, and efficacious treatment.

Editor’s Summary

Depression can play a significant role in adolescents and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 20% of adolescents suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression before they reach adulthood This randomly controlled trial (RCT), including the use of a control group who received no direct intervention, explored the application of EFT in four ninety minute group sessions to 30 college students (30 of 238 met the criteria for moderate to severe depression with use of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Pre and posttests (3 weeks later) were performed with 18 participants who fully complied with the requirements of the experiment. After controlling for baseline differences, “the EFT group had significantly less depression than the control group at posttest, with a mean score in the “non-depressed” range.” While this study had no active comparison group, lacked any follow-up after the intervention, the EFT practitioner and had only limited EFT training, it did point to the possibility that not only is it suggested that EFT can be effective in helping adolescents with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, but that it may be effective In both group format and a limited number of sessions.