Back when I first started my counseling practice in 2001 I offered Emotional Freedom Techniques as a change method.
If you haven’t heard of Emotional Freedom Techniques (or EFT) then take a look at this classic video from EFT developer Gary Craig back in the 1990s:
EFT is a very neat idea.The first neat thing is that it uses Chinese acupuncture points to create psychological changes. Acupuncture is classically used for physical ailments, but EFT adds in a few psychological twists and applies the resulting technique to ailments of the mind. Cool huh!The second neat thing is that it doesn’t use needles. You just tap firmly on the acupuncture points with your fingertips, so there are no sharp objects, and the only tools you need are very conveniently available at the end of your hands.The third neat thing, and this was the real genius of the developer of EFT Gary Craig, is that an entire sequence can be done in a couple of minutes, and learned after repeating it just a few times.The fourth neat thing is that it is a universal change tool. The same sequence of tapping steps pretty much applies for any and every problem you have. There seem to be no limits to what it can be tweaked to do. You have a problem, then go through the tapping until it’s better.Here’s the official video of the claims of EFT.
Sceptics of EFT claim that even if EFT does help it works simply by being a distraction from a person’s problem. They point out that it’s pretty distracting to be tapping with your fingers all over your face, chest and hand, while talking out loud and thinking of what you need to do next.
As a counselor I already know distraction is a waste of time as a tool for therapy.
If distraction was of any lasting benefit then phobias and addictions would just cure themselves automatically as we went about our daily lives. Watch a great movie, read a nice book, stare at a sunset. So if EFT gets results, it’s not by distraction.
It would be great if EFT’s miraculous claims had been verified scientifically but they haven’t.
It’s not surprising really.
EFT is very hyped-up cure-all. It would be hard to get many academics who respected their future careers, interested in doing research into such a radical method.
More importantly, EFT is not at all that easy to test scientifically.
It’s even harder to prove than acupuncture itself, which has had a very tough time over the years.
If EFT were a medication you could give a group of people an EFT pill, and another group a dummy pill with no EFT in it and check the difference. With acupuncture they have a variation where they use ‘sham’ needles that don’t really pierce the skin. However with EFT you can’t have ‘sham’ fingertips as a comparison.
So the scientific evidence is very thin on the ground, and you’ll be waiting for many more years if you work only on the basis of what is scientifically proven.
So is the lack of scientific evidence the reason to question EFT?
I’ll introduce my personal thoughts in Part 2.
-Dr Martin Russell