Brief Group Intervention Using Emotional Freedom Techniques for Depression in College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial

​Depression Research and Treatment Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 257172, 7 pages

Dawson Church,1 Midanelle A. De Asis,2 and Audrey J. Brooks3

1Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine, 3340 Fulton Road, No. 442, Fulton, CA 95439, USA 2College of Science, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines 3Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA Received 27 February 2012; Revised 20 May 2012; Accepted 21 May 2012 Academic Editor: H. Grunze Copyright © 2012 Dawson Church et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Two hundred thirty-eight first-year college students were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Thirty students meeting the BDI criteria for moderate to severe depression were randomly assigned to either a treatment or control group.

The treatment group received four 90-minute group sessions of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a novel treatment that combines exposure, cognitive reprocessing, and somatic stimulation. The control group received no treatment.

Post tests were conducted 3 weeks later on those that completed all requirements (N=18). The EFT group (n=9) had significantly more depression at baseline than the control group (n=9) (EFT BDI mean = 23.44, SD=2.1, versus control BDI mean = 20.33, SD=2.1).

After controlling for baseline BDI score, the EFT group had significantly less depression than the control group at posttest, with a mean score in the “nondepressed” range (P=0.001; EFT BDI mean = 6.08, SD=1.8 versus control BDI , mean = 18.04, SD=1.8). Cohen’s d was 2.28, indicating a very strong effect size.

These results are consistent with those noted in other studies of EFT that included an assessment for depression and indicate the clinical usefulness of EFT as a brief, cost-effective, and efficacious treatment.