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EP Studies on Phobias
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EP Research Studies on Phobias

The Immediate Effect of a Brief Energy Psychology Intervention (EFT) on Specific Phobias: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Maria Salas, PhD, Audrey J. Brooks, PhD, Jack E. Rowe, PhD.
Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, in press: scheduled for 2011 publication.


This study examined whether Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a brief exposure therapy that combines cognitive and somatic elements, had an immediate effect on the reduction of anxiety and behavior associated with specific phobias. The present study utilized a cross-over design with participants (N=22) randomly assigned to either diaphragmatic breathing or EFT as the first treatment. Study measures included a behavioral approach test, Subjective Units of Distress Scale, and Beck Anxiety Inventory. EFT significantly reduced phobia-related anxiety and ability to approach the feared stimulus whether presented as an initial treatment or following diaphragmatic breathing. When presented as the initial treatment, the effects of EFT remained through the presentation of the comparison intervention. Further study of EFT for specific phobias is warranted. 


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.

Keywords: anxiety reduction; desensitization; energy meridian system; Emotional Freedom Techniques; EFT; energy psychology.

Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Mind/Body Therapy on Claustrophobia.

Lambrou, Peter, Pratt, George, & Chevalier, Gaetan.
Journal of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (2005) 14(3), 239-251.

A preliminary study was conducted to quantify the effects of a specific form of therapeutic intervention on claustrophobia using methods from an emerging field called energy psychology, which uses the acupuncture system to reduce or eliminate irrational anxiety and fears. The treatment includes a form of self-applied acupressure, focused thought, and structured breathing exercises to effect a rapid desensitization of the feared object or situation. Four claustrophobic and four normal individuals were recruited. The claustrophic individuals were measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and physiological measures of ERG, EMG, heart rate, respiration rate, and measures of the electro-conductance within the acupuncture meridians. The results when compared with normal individuals showed that a 30- minute treatment appeared to create reduction in EMG for the trapezius muscle; changes of ERG Theta wave activity and changes in the electrical conductance between acupuncture points along a meridian pathway. The measures pre- and post-treatment on the STAI for the experimental group were significantly lower even at a two week followup. This pilot study suggests that specific physiological and psychological changes occur for claustrophobic individuals after undergoing an energy psychology treatment. Further investigation appears warranted. 

Evaluation of a Meridian-Based Intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for Reducing Specific Phobias of Small Animals

Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews, H. B., Carrington, P. & Baker, A. H.
Journal of Clinical Psychology, (2003), 59(9), 943-966.


This study explored whether a meridian-based procedure, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), can reduce specific phobias of small animals under laboratory-controlled conditions. Randomly assigned participants were treated individually for 30 minutes with EFT (n = 18) or a comparison condition, Diaphragmatic Breathing (DB) (n = 17). ANOVAS revealed that EFT produced significantly greater improvement than did DB behaviorally and on three self-report measures, but not on pulse rate. The greater improvement for EFT was maintained, and possibly enhanced, at 6 - 9 months follow-up on the behavioral measure. These findings suggest that a single treatment session using EFT to reduce specific phobias can produce valid behavioral and subjective effects. Some limitations of the study are also noted and clarifying research suggested.

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