Emotional Freedom Techniques for Anxiety: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) combines elements of exposure and cognitive therapies with acupressure for the treatment of psychological distress. Randomized controlled trials retrieved by literature search were assessed for quality using the criteria developed by the American Psychological Association’s Division 12 Task Force on Empirically Validated Treatments. As of December 2015, 14 studies (n = 658) met inclusion criteria. Results were analyzed using an inverse variance weighted meta-analysis. The pre-post effect size for the EFT treatment group was 1.23 (95% confidence interval, 0.82–1.64; p < 0.001), whereas the effect size for combined controls was 0.41 (95% confidence interval, 0.17–0.67; p = 0.001). Emotional freedom technique treatment demonstrated a significant decrease in anxiety scores, even when accounting for the effect size of control treatment. However, there were too few data available comparing EFT to standard-of-care treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and further research is needed to establish the relative efficacy of EFT to established protocols.

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