EFT for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and Anxiety
Using EFT, another one of the energy psychology techniques I use in my clinical practice, for feeling stressed, depressed, and anxious.
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Below I have shared Dr. Peta Stapleton's video and transcripts. This video outlines 3 meta-analyses published on EFT for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and Anxiety and explains what the results mean. The meta-analyses for Thought Field Therapy (TFT) for PTSD is also overviewed.
Pete Stapleton: Hi, Dr. Peta Stapleton here. I'm a clinical and health psychologist, and I'm actually known mostly for my research and my work in the area of EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques. We often call that psychological acupuncture or most commonly termed tapping because we stimulate acupressure points on the body with a gentle tapping technique. That actually also includes a cognitive statement.
In these research spotlights, what I want to do is share with you and make it in an a really easy to understand manner where the research is and the evidence for techniques that are body-based such as EFT. So today I actually want to talk through what it is that we mean by a meta analysis study. And I want to talk about three meta analyses that have actually been done for Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT.
A meta analysis really is considered to be the pinnacle of research that's out there, empirical evidence-based research. And it means that enough studies have actually been done in a single area so that we can analyze all of that data together. So in effect it actually strengthens, if you like, the results that are there. Three of these have actually been done to date in the area of EFT or tapping. And I want to talk about those today. One of them is in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder. A second one is in the area of depression. And a third one has been done in the area of anxiety.
When we talk about the outcomes of meta analysis studies, we actually talk in terms of an effect size. As you can imagine, it means what's the effect or the outcome of that particular intervention. And effect sizes normally range from zero to one at a statistical level. Stay with me here, I'll try and make this make a little bit of sense. The closer to zero, the more we would say that the effect size is minimal, that there's probably not much statistically happening as in creating a significant difference for that person or that intervention. But the closer to the number one statistically the effect size is, the more we're likely to say that the effect size is very large and it is actually having an impact that somebody would actually be able to notice with the naked eye. So just keep that in mind, that zero, not much happening, but the closer it is in a percentage or a decimal point to the number one, the more likely it is that we actually can see that something is happening, and it's quite obvious to somebody with the naked eye.
Having said that, let's talk about these three meta analyses that have been done with EFT and just sort of break them down a little bit. The first one was done for post-traumatic stress disorder. And the links to the actual papers are included in the notes here, so you can actually... if you want to read the whole article you can actually read that yourself. For the PTSD trial that was run, the authors actually analyzed seven different papers or studies that actually had already looked at EFT for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. And they were able to take all of the data from those seven studies and analyze it together. So that's where our meta analysis came in.
Now, all of the seven studies that were chosen actually met the APA or the American Psychological Association Task Force 12. So that's a task force that actually gives guidelines to say that a study is empirically well-based or evidence-based. And so the seven studies that were chosen for this meta analysis actually met the criteria of that task force of the APA so that indeed they had selected studies that were obviously sound and validated in their outcomes.
Now, what's interesting when we have a look at this effect size ... So I'm just going to summarize really the outcomes here for you. That normally we look for that effect size zero to one, so the closer to one the more we know that something's happening with the naked eye. The effect size for the meta analysis for EFT/tapping for PTSD was 2.96. Now, I do want to say that again, because remember I'm saying naught to one. So the effect size for EFT for PTSD was 2.96 in this meta analysis. So that's extraordinary, and I actually, as a university professor, don't actually teach any other treatments that come to that level of effect size if you like. It's just extraordinary. So we're nearly at three there. Which really means in layman's terms that if you were to walk into a room, notice a group of people sitting there that had post-traumatic stress disorder, notice their symptoms, you would see that. Then if you came back after they'd had their intervention, their tapping intervention over a period of time, you would notice without even being a clinician, that that group were different, that their symptoms had subsided, and you would be able to tell just by looking at them that those symptoms were different, indeed significantly reduced. So that's what that effect size means the higher that it actually increases in number.
Now what was interesting in this particular paper was they actually said that all of the studies were actually achieving their outcomes with EFT in a minimum of four to 10 maximum sessions, so that's four to 10 hours worth of treatment. Mostly gold standard treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder would recommend 12 to 18 sessions. So definitely we've had studies that have achieved those outcomes in less, even one hour. But particularly for this meta analysis, they showed that between four and 10 sessions were achieving those outcomes. So that's the first meta analysis which I think is a really good place to start. But it really does show that the evidence is sitting there for the intervention of tapping or EFT for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now let me tell you about the one that's being done for depression. So again, enough studies existed that we can analyze the data all at once. Now, the authors of this particular paper looked at 20 studies that met their criteria, and they were able to analyze all of the data, there was over 450 participants that had been involved in different depression EFT trials. So 20 different studies, an obviously analyzed that to see what's the effect size. Now the effect size here for depression for EFT was 1.31. So again, it's over that number one. So we would call that a very large, if not extremely large, effect size. Meaning, that you again would notice walking in, looking at these people after their EFT intervention that their depression symptoms had definitely significantly subsided and they were a different person.
Funnily enough, the paper does talk about that the effect sizes for antidepressant medication and even other types of psychotherapy are way less than that effect size of 1.31 that EFT was able to achieve. So even medication isn't resulting in those kind of outcomes. Again, the authors suggested that those outcomes were achieved in one to 10 sessions of the EFT intervention. It was interesting that they also conclude this paper, and again, the link is there if you want to have a look at it, is that EFT was found to be at a statistical level better than diaphragmatic breaching, better than a supportive intervention, just talk therapy. It was better than sleep hygiene for depression. And it was superior indeed to just treatment as usual, whatever they were going through. So again another meta analysis that shows for the area of depression, EFT is certainly proving its way, and the evidence is actually there.
The last one I want to talk about is the EFT meta analysis that's being done for anxiety. This one looked at 14 different publications, trials that had been run out there. And again, over 400-odd participants involved. And looked at, again, the data as a whole to sort of say, "What was the effect size of EFT on anxiety symptoms?" And the effect size here was 1.23, so again over the number one that we normally would look for. Remember, anything up to about 0.8 as an effect size is what we call a large effect size. 0.2 would be very small, not much happening, but maybe if you dig in the data. But anything around that 0.8, close to one, certainly shows that there indeed is something happening that you can actually notice. So the effect size for anxiety there was 1.23. So again, some amazing sort of outcomes that are being shown with that type of thing.
There has been another meta analysis in the area of tapping in general. So thought field therapy, which was a precursor to EFT and certainly still being investigated in research trials has had a meta analysis investigated for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. They actually looked at five studies that had been through an intervention for PTSD sufferers, but using thought field therapy, so the other tapping technique. And again, the meta analysis showed an effect size of 2.27, so a reduction of symptoms there that again would have been really obvious to the naked eye.
All of the links are here to these particular papers if you want to read further. We have a few more meta analyses actually emerging, and I'll cover those in another research spotlight. But if you want to investigate anything further, have a look at evidencebasedEFT.com or certainly even my website, petastapleton.com. Get in touch, feel free to share this research spotlight anywhere that you like. The more we can let people know what the evidence is out there, the better it will be just for our patients and our clients therapeutically. Really great chatting to you today, and I hope this might have helped.