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What is the evidence for Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT for PTSD?

Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT is a form of therapy for PTSD. EFT combines the cognitive components from CBT and exposure therapy and combines it with stimulation of eight acupuncture points.

From Church, D. et al. (2018):

A typical sequence in the treatment of PTSD might be to have the client vividly recall details of a traumatizing event (exposure) while pairing the memory with emotionally neutral statements (cognitive reframing). To these cognitive and exposure elements, EFT adds the stimulation of a pre-established set of eight acupuncture points (acupoints) by tapping on them with the fingertips, a form of acupressure.

Church, D., Stapleton, P., Mollon, P., Feinstein, D., Boath, E., Mackay, D., & Sims, R. (2018, December). Guidelines for the Treatment of PTSD Using Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). In Healthcare (Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 146). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

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The meta-analysis on anxiety referred to by Church, D. et al. (2018) was performed by Sebastian & Nelms, (2017) was published in a questionable journal.

This critique by Ferrara found that

four studies suffered from two fatal flaws: they had a small number of participants, and EFT was compared to waitlist controls that did nothing. These studies really tell us nothing about the effectiveness of EFT and they do not validate the theory behind it.

Small, biased studies without comparison groups from one group of researchers with a financial interest in EFT have shown the treatment is associated with improved PTSD symptoms. However, when it has been compared to CBT, there are no differences between the approaches.

https://healthybutsmart.com/emotional-freedom-technique/

Church, D., Stapleton, P., Mollon, P., Feinstein, D., Boath, E., Mackay, D., & Sims, R. (2018, December). Guidelines for the Treatment of PTSD Using Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). In Healthcare (Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 146). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

Sebastian, B., & Nelms, J. (2017). The Effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis. EXPLORE, 13(1), 16–25.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is true that there are not enough reputable institutions doing head to head trials to make this therapy worth investigating. However, if CBT is comparable with EFT, isn't it worth investigating? EFT is far more affordable and self-empowering than CBT. Face-to-face CBT is expensive and far less affordable than EFT? $\endgroup$ – Poidah Aug 22 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure you understand the Q&A format here. Self answers are allowed in certain circumstances, but I really wouldn't suggest it for you on this topic. You should really never have 2 answers on a question. Gather the information you can, and then ask one related question, rather than continually posting additional questions and answers. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Aug 22 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ Hey I am learning. Hence the comment on my profile. The onboarding process on StackExchange is pitiful and the attitude of established contributors is far from generous. There is little or no explanation between the differences between Q&A and a discussion forum. So If you have more awareness how about how hostile StackExchange is to newcomers, you would not be so harsh. $\endgroup$ – Poidah Aug 22 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ I know it's different than other places, but the concept is simple: you ask questions you have, you answer questions you can answer. Doesn't need to be harsh: if it feels like I'm being harsh it's because you've spent your limited time here seemingly pushing pseudoscience, which I don't appreciate. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Aug 22 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers "If a large number find benefit over placebo, there must be something in it." - There was only one trial with any sort of proper placebo that did not show difference. Freud is a bit different whereas this energy field stuff has no value whatsoever. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Aug 22 at 13:42

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