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EFT Research (Part 3)

EFT Research (Part 3): Single session reduction of the intensity of Traumatic Memories

This is a journal article that was published on Traumatology Journal on APA, and this is also available on the website.

This research is about single session reduction of the intensity of Traumatic Memories in abused adolescents after EFT – a randomized controlled pilot study. The subjects (16 males between the age of 12 to 17) were chosen from an institution to which juveniles are sent by the court, if the judge believes that there has been a physical or psychological abuse at home. The assessments were done using the Subjective Distress and Impact of Events Scales. And, this also measured two aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder which was intrusive memories and avoidance symptoms.

The experimental group got one session of EFT and the wait-list control group got no treatment. 30 days later, the participants were reassessed and obviously, there was no improvement in the wait-list group since they did not get any treatment. The experimental group where the EFT intervention was applied for one session, in the post test scores that were taken, the results showed that they were non-clinical on the total score as well as on the Intrusive and Avoidant Symptoms subscale and the Subjective Distress Scale.

Quoting the article here,

“These results are consistent with those found in adults and indicates the utility of single session EFT as fast and effective intervention for reducing psychological trauma in juveniles.”

You can watch the video here:

EFT Research (Part 2)

EFT Research (Part 2): Efficacy of EFT in reducing Public Speaking Anxiety

This research on Efficacy of EFT in Reducing Public Speaking Anxiety was published in Energy Psychology: Theory, Research and Treatment in 2011.

When it comes to public speaking anxiety, there are a lot of people who have it. It helped me tremendously too. Now, I conduct trainings, webinars and I make these videos, and I don’t experience that same kind of anxiety.

In this study, there were 36 volunteers with public speaking anxiety and they were assigned randomly to treatment groups and wait-list control group. There was one treatment group and one wait-list control group.

The self-report measures were taken before, during and after a 45-minutes EFT session. A 45-minutes EFT session was conducted. There were changes in scores that were taken before and after the EFT, and it showed reduction – a significant reduction in the public speaking anxiety on all subjective and behavioural measures.

 Isn’t that exciting news? That means that if you have public speaking anxiety, you don’t have to live with it. There is something you can do about it. 

You can watch the video here:

EFT Research (Part 1)

EFT Research Series (Part 1): TBI symptoms improve after PTSD remediation with EFT

This research was published in the Traumatology Journal in September 2014 . 

 A group of 59 veterans who had clinical levels of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder),  received EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) in a RCT which is Randomized Control Trial. In Randomized Control Trial the subjects are randomly assigned to either the experimental group, the group that receives the new intervention that is being tested, or the control group which is the group that receives the conventional treatment.

After six sessions of EFT,  it was noticed that a 86 percentage drop was there which was below the clinical threshold. Also, the results stayed subclinical, below the clinical threshold in the three and the six-month follow-ups that were done. The traumatic brain injury reductions were noticed and the symptoms reduced after three sessions, and there was even more reduction after six months, around 41 percent, which is a pretty significant change.

Is Talk Therapy enough for trauma?

Using only a top down approach in psychotherapy sessions isn’t enough for trauma because:

  • When a person is experiencing flashbacks or even recalling a traumatic event their body can literally feel like it’s in the past. All the stored survival stress is back in the form of body sensations. These body sensations can get unbearable. And just talking about all of this won’t help because it doesn’t relieve the body sensations. Without a somatic approach to help handle the body sensations, the client can feel like they’re drowning in the gut wrenching sensations.


  • The body sensations can feel very triggering because the client feels as if they’re reliving the entire traumatic event rather than just talking about it. A cognitive approach to make sense of this doesn’t help until the body feels safer to inhabit, until the client can get a grip on the body sensations. No amount of cognitive processing can make the person understand that it’s in the past. While a cognitive approach can help in observing the body’s sensations, the bottom up approach can help in “recalibrating the nervous system” ( Kolk, 2004, p. 63-64) which is vital to begin with.


  • During a traumatic event, the body goes into survival mode and the amygdala, the smoke detector of the brain ( Kolk, 2004), only sees the danger and directs the body to escape the danger via FFF. The frontal cortex, especially the medial Prefrontal Cortex goes offline during trauma. Bessel Van Der Kolk calls it the ‘watchtower’ which helps in making important decisions. The trauma is stored in a non linear, fragmented manner and doesn’t have a coherent narrative. So explaining what happened when it’s mostly the fragmented sights, sounds, smell etc of the traumatic event, is very difficult in a talk therapy session.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy by Pat Ogden, Tapping acupressure points (EFT), Alpha/Theta training, Somatic Experiencing by Peter Levine, Neurofeedback, EMDR, are some of the techniques mentioned in the book, The Body keeps the Score, that are effective in resol

Reference:  van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Viking.

Importance of feedback

Do not throw away all work & performance related feedback, just because it feels uncomfortable.

It’s said that one should take feedback from people who love and cherish us. Now, our loved ones may often see only the good stuff, which is great, because we all need people who cheer us in our lives. However, they may not be very objective when it comes to our shortcomings. If you’ve seen the movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In the movie, Florence wants to resume singing and her long time companion encourages her despite knowing how terrible she is at singing, ending with funny yet disastrous consequences.

When critical feedback comes from people in our work or social settings, we may want to discard it without realising that it can be a great opportunity, albeit uncomfortable one, to grow.

I’m not talking about rude or disrespectful comments , moral judgments and other forms of destructive comments that people make under the garb of feedback.

I’m talking about constructive feedback which may bring up defensiveness in you and make you uncomfortable, but ‘can be’ really helpful in your growth.

In order to discern whether the feedback will serve you or not, try this:

1. Untie the feedback from your self worth. The feedback is about your work, not you. If there’s a mistake that’s been pointed out, it’s about your work, not about you. In REBT we use the term ‘self-downing’ for putting our whole self down instead of looking at the behaviour that may need a change.

2. Distinguish realistic feedback from unrealistic feedback. It’s not your job to fulfill everyone’s unrealistic expectations, camouflaged as feedback. It’s one thing to try to do better, it’s quite another to start people pleasing by fulfilling unrealistic expectations of others.

3. Discern if the feedback is going to help you grow or is it putting unnecessary pressure on you, which in the long run isn’t really helpful.

4. Is the feedback kind or unkind? Discard unkind feedback, especially the ones that feels like an attack, and only take the feedback that is kind and constructive in nature.

5. In all this, tapping on defensiveness, hurt and anger will help. Once all these feelings subside, you’ll be able to separate gold from garbage (feedback).

We must remember that we can only do our best based on what we know in a given moment, and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Perfection is an illusion. What really helps is doing our best and making an effort, learning from imperfections and building our strengths. Constructive and compassionate feedback from others can be very helpful to become aware of our blind spots.

Benefits of Practice Sessions in Training

Answering a question that I’m often asked.

How are practise sessions conducted in the EFT training course and how do they help?

1) The practise sessions are not role plays but require students to work with others in the group on real issues. Although smaller issues are taken up, a lot of attendees have told me that it transformed certain areas of their lives.

2) These sessions aren’t recorded and they are held in breakout rooms (online training). In these rooms you can practise the EFT skills that you learn on that day.


3) In each class whatever you learn on that day can be practised in these practise sessions. These sessions are usually in dyads or triads. For example, if you’ve learnt the basic recipe and how to be specific, the concept of shifting aspects etc, you’ll be practising that with the participants.

4) The practise sessions in most classes follow the demo. You’ll be shown how to handle a real life problem in a demo session in a step by step manner.

5) With each class you’ll learn a new set of concepts and skills to deliver more effective sessions. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy – unless you know the basics and then the foundational skills, you cannot deliver effective eft sessions or practise EFT skilfully on yourself.

6) You’ll get personalised and compassionate feedback after each practise session by me and/or my experienced student(s).

These practise sessions are best for trying EFT and making mistakes. In real life situations where you work with clients, you won’t get many opportunities to really learn from your mistakes, as your client may not give you a direct feedback. These sessions are also help to assess and understand your strengths and limitations.

Let yourself shine

Inspired by today’s EFT session

What holds us back? Why do we hold back from shining? Why do we feel we’re unworthy? Why are we uncomfortable with visibility in our respective fields? How does that impact our relationship with money and opportunities that come our way?

Think back to the times when you were told that you should be subdued or that you shouldn’t show off. What about the times you observed that being visible, letting yourself shine and take the spotlight was seen as flashy or something that you shouldn’t do?

In our culture we are taught to be subdued, more so if you are a woman, to hold back, to dim our brightness and to be invisible.

Haven’t we heard these messages from our parents, caregivers, teachers, relatives, media etc while growing up that it’s not okay to be visible? No one tells us we’re unworthy, but these shaming and outdated messages end up making us feel unworthy and undeserving of great things in life.
These cultural messages, these limiting beliefs and non-expansive ideas hold us back.

What if we could let go of these limiting beliefs – these restrictive ideas- that stop us from shining, from realising that just by being born we are truly worthy and invaluable beings?

A lot of my work with clients is on recognising these limiting patterns and ideas, and releasing and transforming them. In order to do so, we dig deeper and take a look at the programming that comes from our childhood, the incidents that shaped these beliefs, and start processing them.

For a garden to flourish you need to take out the weeds. In order to take out the weeds you need to pull them out with the roots, and not just trim them. Similarly, in order to recognise our worthiness, we need to uproot the limiting ideas and let go of old conditioning, and we can do that with EFT.

We’re worthy to shine.
We’re worthy to share our creativity with the world.
We’re worthy to speak up when needed.
We’re worthy to say no
We’re invaluable and infinitely magnificent.

EFT as an assistive approach for MHPs

How can EFT help you in your practise if you are a mental health professional?EFT can be used as an individual as well as an assistive tool to help your clients with emotional and psychosomatic issues.

Here are just a few ways in which EFT can help your clients. I’m highlighting the most common benefits of using EFT with your clients and introducing it into your therapy practise.

1. Clients often get dysregulated while talking about their issues or processing their issues in the sessions. EFT helps in regulating your client’s nervous system during a therapy session. Tapping helps by sending deactivating signals to the limbic brain and that in turn calms the mind and body. Imagine how much more your clients will be able to process, if they were able to get back into a regulated state easily and gently during a session! It also helps them self-regulate in between sessions.

2. Handling difficult persistent negative feelings is easier with EFT. You can creatively combine any modality that you use with EFT to help your clients cope with and manage their difficult feelings, in the session as well as on their own in between sessions.

3. EFT can help in unearthing and transforming limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs keep clients stuck in negative patterns and EFT utulizes a unique method to change these unhelpful beliefs – the unhelpful conclusions the clients have arrived at about themselves, the world and others.

4. Anxiety and stress are two of the most common presenting issues that clients bring to the table in our profession. EFT helps in easing the symptoms of GAD ( Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Clients can also learn the basics of EFT and apply it on themselves while they’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety such as heaviness in chest, increased heart rate, sweating etc. EFT is very effective for social anxiety as well.

5. Most clients have had some form of trauma in their lives. A specific technique in EFT is used for disarming troubling, stressful and traumatic memories and reducing the emotional charge associated with them. This is turn helps in improving their quality of life. There are many emotional and physical consequences of trauma, and working on adverse childhood experiences with EFT has proven to be very beneficial.

6. Goal setting & improving performance is another area where EFT can help either by itself or along with CBT and REBT.

7. Stress management is another area where EFT is very effective. I’ve conducted a lot of stress management classes, and tapping helps in reducing stress rather quickly. Research in EFT shows that tapping can reduce cortisol by approx 43% in a one hour tapping session.

8. EFT can complement the top-down approaches that most mental health professionals practise. EFT is a bottom-up approach which also incorporates cognitive shift and exposure. Since the body component is involved, EFT can help in decreasing body based anxiety and processing stored trauma responses in the body.

9. Talk therapies can sometimes be very overwhelming. I remember being very overwhelmed after a few of my talk therapy sessions. It felt like opening a tap and not closing it before the session ended. EFT can help in closing the tap by the end of each session. It has containment techniques than can effectively lessen the client’s overwhelm by the end of the session.

10. EFT can also help in positively resourcing a client at the start of the session.

EFT is a trauma informed approach and with increasing research backing its effectiveness, it’s time more MHPs considered learning and applying EFT. Since MHPs already have a solid background in psychology, in my opinion, they can master EFT skills easily.

There’s no deadline for recovery

“There is no deadline for recovery” were my client’s exact words in a session. She described how safe she felt during our psychotherapy & EFT sessions. She was able to be open up about her feelings and patterns, and she didn’t feel pushed to change. She felt she wasn’t given a deadline to heal!

Unfortunately a lot of people never experience safe connections with their caregivers while growing up. Because of early childhood trauma and neglect they develop a faulty neuroception wherein their ability to detect safety and danger get mixed up. As a result of this, they may feel safe in risky situations and threatened in totally safe situations.

To develop the ability to detect safety in safe situations and caution in threatening situations requires a therapeutic alliance where they can experience safety and acceptance without the fear of being told off or abandoned by their therapist. If a client starts sensing that their therapist will disown them if they don’t meet the preset goals, they will lose that opportunity to develop a healthy neuroception.

It’s only through a safe therapeutic alliance that the damaging effects of past unsafe relationships can be repaired and clients can begin to heal, grow and seek healthy connections in their lives.

Being trauma informed is not a one time pill that can be taken by attending a single or multiple courses. It requires reflection on our part as therapists after every single session to see whether the client felt safe in the session or not.

For example, do they feel safe enough to bring up their issues with you as a therapist? Do they feel they’re being heard in the sessions?

And most importantly, how do you handle critical feedback from your clients?

Rupture is a part of any relationship and repair is only possible if the rupture is acknowledged.

I made so many mistakes as a rookie therapist when I started out, but I made it a point to keep learning from those mistakes and honing my skills. Becoming a trauma informed practitioner is a life long process and your client is your best teacher.

Research in EFT has come a long way


When I started practicing EFT back in 2004, I faced criticism for using EFT in counselling sessions. Back then EFT was seen mostly as a meridian therapy and the emphasis on it being a combination of exposure, cognitive shift techniques (Cognitive therapies) and acupressure was lacking. Although as a psychologist I was well aware of the exposure techniques and other related techniques along with acupressure being in play, it took a long time for EFT to move towards becoming an evidence-based treatment approach.

I’m happy to report that EFT has a strong research backing now.

From 2012, when Dr David Feinstein’s article was published in APA’s Journal (American Psychological Association), Review of General Psychology, to 2022 where Dr. Peta Stapleton (a Clinical & Health Psychologist in Australia) has been tasked by APA division 12 taskforce with conducting a “systematic review on the effectiveness of EFT for trauma and PTSD”, EFT has come a long way.

According to Dr Peta Stapleton, “EFT has already met the American Psychological Association (APA) standards as an “efficacious” treatment for phobias, anxiety, depression, and PTSD in previous years.” See Church, D. (2013) in references

If you look up the research section on, you’ll find 43 RCT studies (RCT being the gold standard in clinical research), 54 pilot studies, 10 meta-analyses, 26 research reviews, and many more case studies and papers available.

A brief note on how EFT works

EFT is a combination of Bottom up (Somatic) and Top down (Cognitive) approaches. When you bring to your mind a troubling thought, feeling, belief, physical issue, belief, memory (Exposure), you end up activating a part of your emotional brain (amygdala). While you’re exposed to the troubling memory, for example, and tap on certain acupressure points on the face and body, it sends deactivating signals to your brain which in turn calms your mind and body, bringing down the emotional intensity of the issue. With repetition, this new information (the emotional intensity for the issue decreasing) is stored in your hippocampus and the troubling memory no longer bothers you.

Church, D. (2013) Clinical EFT as an Evidence-Based Practice for the Treatment of Psychological and Physiological Conditions

Feinstein, D. (2012) Acupoint Stimulation in Treating Psychological Disorders: Evidence of Efficacy,