Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Reduces Intense Fears: A Partial Replication and Extension of Wells et al. (2003)

A. Harvey Baker, PhD.

Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, (2010), (2)2.


Wells et al. (2003) found that 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 a comparison condition.

The present partial replication and extension assessed whether such findings reflected (1) non-specific factors common to many forms of psychotherapy, (2) some methodological artifact (such as regression to the mean, fatigue, the passage of time, etc.), and/or (3) 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, EFT 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.