Is Acupoint Tapping an Active Ingredient or an Inert Placebo in EFT? A Randomized Controlled Dismantling Study

Louis Fox, Liverpool John Moores University

Abstract: EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques is the most widely used energy psychology method. It combines psychological exposure with the stimulation of acupuncture points (acupoints). This study used 2 conditions—EFT and a control group—to assess emotional self-report and mindfulness.

The sample consisted of 20 undergraduates; 8 study-related emotions and mindfulness were measured immediately before and 7 days after each 40-min intervention with the Achievement Emotions Questionnaire and Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale. Mixed analysis of variance with paired-sample t tests showed that EFT participants experienced significantly greater increases in enjoyment (p < .005) and hope (p < .05) and significantly greater decreases in anger (p < .05) and shame (p < .05) than did the control group.

When data from all emotion-dependent variables were grouped together, analysis showed that EFT participants experienced a significantly greater increase in “positive emotions” (p < .01) and significantly greater decrease in “negative emotions” (p < .01) than did the control group. No significant change was found for mindfulness.

Tapping on acupoints, combined with the vocalization of self-affirming statements, appears to be an active ingredient in EFT rather than an inert placebo. The results were consistent with other published reports demonstrating EFTs efficacy for addressing psychological conditions in students.

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