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Can Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Be Effective in the Treatment of Emotional Conditions? Results of a Service Evaluation in Sandwell; Stewart, Boath, Carryer, Walton, Hill

Citation: Stewart A, Boath E, Carryer A, Walton I, Hill L. Can Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) be effective in the treatment of emotional conditions? Results of a service evaluation in Sandwell. Journal of Psychological Therapies in Primary Care 2013;2:71-84.

Abstract

Objectives: This service evaluation (pilot study) was carried out to establish the feasibility and effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) within a healthcare setting. A dedicated EFT service was delivered in a community setting within the National Health Service in the Metropoli­tan Borough of Sandwell, United Kingdom.

Method: Over a 13-month period, clients accessing the service for a range of emotional conditions were studied. All referrals came through a centralised hub; clients could also self-refer and referrals were accepted for any condition, providing that clients were aged over 18, and not classed as “vulnerable adults”. At the start and end of their treatment, clients were asked to complete the CORE-10 scale (psychological distress; main outcome variable), Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS; mental well-being), Rosenberg Self Esteem and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS; anxiety and depression) measurement scales.

Results: Thirty-nine clients gave consent. The main presenting conditions were anxiety (23; 59.0%), depression (5; 12.8%), and anger (4; 10.3%). The mean number of sessions attended was 5.05 (median 4.0; range 2-17). At the end of therapy, there were both statistically and clinically significant improvements for CORE-10 (Pre-therapy=20.16; Post-therapy=8.71; SD=6.81; p < .001; n=38), WEMWBS (Pre-therapy=38.27; Post-therapy=53.62; SD=10.88; p < .001; n=37), Rosenberg Self-Esteem (Pre-therapy=14.16; Post-therapy=21.81; SD=6.88; p < .001; n=31), HADS Anxiety (Pre-therapy=13.22 ; Post-therapy=7.30 ; SD=3.57; p < .001; n=23), HADS Depression (Pre-therapy=9.26 ; Post-therapy=4.87; SD=5.25; p = .001; n=23) and HADS total score (Pre-therapy=22.30; Post-therapy=12.13; SD=8.17; p < .001; n=23).

All but one of the clients showed clinical im­provement. Few clients attended for follow-up at three months post-therapy, but clinical significance was retained for those clients, with statistical significance for pre-therapy-follow-up for CORE-10 (Pre-therapy=18.71; Follow-up=7.14; SD=6.37; p= .003; n=7), WEMWBS (Pre-therapy=40.00; Follow-up=53.29; SD=11.27; p= .021; n=7), Rosenberg Self-Esteem (Pre-therapy=14.29; Follow-up=22.43; SD=6.45; p= .016; n=7) and HADS Depression (Pre-therapy=8.50 ; Follow-up=2.75; SD=2.50; p = .019; n=4).

Conclusions: Despite limitations, the results support the potential of EFT as an effective treatment for a range of psychological and physical disorders.  As an average of just over 5 sessions were required, it is possible that EFT may also be very cost effective. Further, larger studies are required, which may provide definitive evidence of its effectiveness.

Craig’ Comments

A small study of 39 participants in a community clinic of the UK National Health Service (NHS) was used to evaluate the effectiveness of EFT for a variety of conditions including anxiety, depression and anger. An average of 5 sessions was attended. Results showed significant and clinical effectiveness in scales measuring self esteem improvement, anxiety and anger reduction and increases in overall sense of well being through the use of the clinical application of EFT within a national health care setting. This bodes well for further exploration of the possibility of integration EFT into health care delivery systems as a cost-effective way to treat individuals suffering with a variety of emotional conditions.