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EFT Research Paper

Evaluation of a Meridian-Based Intervention, EFT, For Reducing Specific Phobias of Small Animals

Citation: Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews, H. B., Carrington, P. & Baker, A. H. (2003). Evaluation of a meridian-based intervention, emotional freedom techniques (EFT), for reducing specific phobias of small animals. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 59:9, 943-966. Click here to view Abstract http://goo.gl/pt1HpE


Wells, Polglase, Andrews, Carrington, and Baker (2003) found that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT; an intervention involving manual stimulation of a specific set of acupuncture points accompanied by certain verbalizations) produced greater decrease in intense fear of small animals than did a comparison condition.

The present partial replication and extension assessed whether such findings reflected (a) nonspecific factors common to many forms of psychotherapy, (b) some methodological artifact (such as regression to the mean, fatigue, or the passage of time), and/or (c) therapeutic ingredients specific to EFT.

Participants were randomly assigned to EFT, a supportive interview, or no-treatment control. On a majority of the dependent variables, participants in the EFT condition showed significant decrease in fear of small animals immediately after, and again 1.38 years after, one 45-min intervention, whereas the other two conditions did not.

These findings lend support for EFT’s efficacy in the treatment of intense fear, but further research is needed regarding the range of problems for which EFT may be efficacious, the treatment procedures required to maintain clinical gains, the relative power of EFT compared with other established therapies, and the mechanism(s) that produce EFT’s effects.

Craig’s Comments

Participants were assigned to three groups, i.e. EFT, a supportive interview, or no-treatment control. The results demonstrated that even after a single 45 minute EFT session, recipients showed a significant decrease in their fear of small animals and the results remained almost one and one half years later as compared to the other two groups. This research lends support for EFT in the treatment of intense fear yet further research is warranted regarding various logistics and extending results, including a comparison with other established therapies.