Dr. Patricia Carrington reports on a series of
studies planned or in progress, building upon this study, by one
of the co-authors, Dr. Harvey Baker, and colleagues (www.eftupdate.com/ResearchonEFT.html):
 a replication of the Wells et al. procedures, but using 2
different forms of control group – a form of non-directive
counselling, and a no treatment group;  a controlled study
in a clinical setting, comparing EFT with two control groups;
 a comparison of EFT and a sham variant (no true acupoints
being tapped) examining the effect on maths anxiety;  a study
of the effect of EFT versus two control conditions on basket ball
skill;  a study of the effect of EFT on alcohol addiction in
a small village in India;  a comparison of EFT using the standard
tapping points with a version using tapping on other body locations;
a study of the effect of EFT on fears of public speaking, using
a virtual reality programme to test this.
The study by Joaquin Andrade MD and colleagues
Preliminary data has been reported (Andrade &
Feinstein, 2001), of a variety of randomised double-blind pilot
studies, involving more than 29000 patients, conducted at 11 centres
in South America during a 14-year period. In one of these, approximately
5000 patients, diagnosed as suffering from an anxiety disorder,
were randomly assigned to a group which received an energy tapping
method and a control group which received cognitive behaviour
therapy and/or medication. At the close of therapy, 90% of the
tapping group were rated as improved, whilst 63% of the control
group were rated as improved. 76% of the tapping group were rated
as symptom free, whilst 51% of the control group were rated as
symptom free. At one year follow-up, the patients in the tapping
treatment were substantially less prone to relapse than those
in the control group.
These findings are dramatic. As the authors comment:
“No reasonable clinician, regardless of school of practice,
can disregard the clinical responses that tapping elicits in anxiety
disorders (over 70% improvement in a large sample in 11 centers
involving 36 therapists over 14 years).” [p 4]
However, these pilot studies were conducted for the purpose of
internal validation of procedures and protocols for the clinical
“These were pilot studies, viewed as possible precursors
for future research, but were not themselves designed with publication
in mind. Specifically, not all the variables that need to be controlled
in robust research were tracked, not all criteria were defined
with rigorous precision, the record-keeping was relatively informal,
and source data were not always maintained. Nevertheless, the
studies all used randomised samples, control groups, and double
blind assessment. The finding were so striking that the research
team decided to make them more widely available.” [p 4]
There were some interesting findings regarding
the effectiveness of tapping methods for different clinical groups.
The best results of tapping methods were with various kinds of
anxiety disorders. Also various other emotional problems responded
well, including grief, guilt, anger, shame, jealousy, rejection,
painful memories, loneliness, love pain, and procrastination.
Good results were also obtained in relation to adjustment disorders,
ADHD, impulse control disorders, and problems stemming from abuse
or neglect. Responding slightly less well, but still better than
with other methods, were OCD, generalised anxiety disorder, anxiety
related to medical conditions, social phobias, and certain specific
phobias. Energy interventions fared as well but no better than
other methods in relation to mild to moderate reactive depression,
substance abuse disorders, and eating disorders. Results that
were inferior to those obtained with other methods were found
in relation to major endogenous depression, personality disorders
and dissociative disorders. No improvement was found using energy
methods in relation to psychotic disorders, bipolar disorders,
delirium, dementia, and chronic fatigue.
Brain scan images from this study, showing the
results before and after energy tapping, can be found at www.innersource.net/energy_psych/epi_neuro_foundations.htm
Descriptions of a number of other pilot studies
and work in progress researching energy psychology methods can
be found at www.energypsych.org
Two studies on EFT by Swingle and colleagues.
One study looked at the effects of EFT treatment on road traffic
victims suffering from PTSD. The subjects were taught EFT tapping
in two sessions. Follow-up at three months showed significant
positive changes in brain-waves and in self-reported symptoms
of stress. This study (Swingle et al. 2001) was reported at a
scientific meeting and has been submitted for publication.
In another study (Swingle, 2001), EFT was used
as a treatment for children diagnosed with epilepsy. The children
were given EFT every night by their parents each day when the
parents suspected a seizure might occur. After two weeks of home
EFT treatment, significant reductions in seizure frequency were
reported, as well as improvement in EEG readings. This study has
not yet been published.
Research on thought field therapy.
A number of studies have been published relating
to Callahan’s thought field therapy (TFT).
Figley and Carbonell (1999) report a preliminary
investigation, without a control group, into the clinical effectiveness
of TFT, EMDR and two other new treatments for PTSD. They found
that all the new therapies accelerated treatment for trauma in
contrast to lengthy traditional therapies. Meaningful comparisons
between the treatments could not be made with certainty, for methodological
reasons, but TFT was the most rapid treatment.
Some papers have presented data on heart rate
variability (HRV) as an outcome measure of TFT (Callahan, 2001b;
2001c; Pignotti & Steinberg, 2001), arguing that both very
high and very low HRV are a sign of ill-health, and that TFT helps
restore a healthy HRV. Whilst this seems an interesting area to
explore further, the combination of a novel treatment process
and a novel outcome measure tends to strain the credulity of readers
and reviewers; moreover, there are methodological problems in
these studies, such as a failure to control for the statistical
tendency of extreme measures to regress to the mean (Kline, 2001;
Herbert & Gaudiono, 2001).
Some preliminary data on changes in level of self-reported
distress with 714 patients with a variety of psychological disorders
are described by Sakai and colleagues (Sakai et al. 2001). The
methodology of this study is criticised by Lohr (2001), but some
of his arguments seem a little odd, based apparently on his perception
of TFT and its rationale as implausible. He appears to argue that
regardless of results, a study of the effectiveness of TFT is
invalid because the efficacy of this treatment method has not
been established: “Effectiveness is a valuable research
tool, but only when there is prior efficacy research to support
its validity in more restrictive controlled experiments.”
[p 1230] He further argues that since there have been no controlled
studies of TFT and since the claims for evidence of the existence
of energy meridians are “unconvincing”, the report
by Sakai and colleagues is “scientifically premature and
beside the point” [p 1233] . Lohr’s argument that,
without prior establishment of efficacy, there can be no meaning
to a study of efficacy, seems puzzling. Speaking personally, if
I hear that a new treatment gives rise to a statistically significant
lessening of self-reported distress in a sample of 714 patients,
then I would conclude that some positive effect is taking place,
even if I am puzzled by the nature and rationale for the treatment,
and even if there are as yet no methodologically sound demonstrations
of its efficacy in comparison to a control group. A study of effectiveness
surely implies efficacy, even if it is not itself a sound demonstration
of efficacy (because the experimental conditions have not been
adequately controlled) . Lohr’s complete dismissal of the
study seems a little harsh, especially in view of the authors’
own comment in the abstract: “These … are preliminary
data that call for controlled studies to examine validity, reliability,
and maintenance of effects over time.” [p 1215].
Another report (Johnson et al. 2001) described
the use of TFT with people suffering war trauma in remote villages
in Kosovo; 105 patients were treated and self-reported complete
relief was reported by 103 of these, and follow-up data revealed
that these improvements had been sustained. This report was criticised
by Rosner (2001), on the grounds that [a] only superficial information
about the sample was provided, [b] diagnostic information was
absent, [c] the self-report measure of distress was rather crude,
[d] the description of TFT was rather short. However, the reviewer
does note that “doing research in a postwar society is more
than difficult” and that “it is only to be expected
that methodological standards should be of lesser importance than
in a review of laboratory research performed in safety in a rich
country.” [p 1241-1242]. By contrast, Hartung and Galvin
(2003) comment: “Scientists can criticise this study’s
lack of randomisation of subjects, use of nonstandardised measures,
failure to account for competing hypotheses, and the like. Practicing
psychotherapists, on the other hand, … will more likely
feel exhilarated when reading about this work. A report of 98%
recovery from trauma, even if informal, is likely to encourage
a clinician who is dedicated to alleviating the suffering of trauma
victims.” [p 60]
Two studies (Callahan, 1987; 2001; Leonoff, 1996)
have reported the results of radio phone-in programmes, where
callers were treated over the phone for various problems, such
as phobias, anxieties, addictions, guilt and marital problems.
Callahan reported a success rate of 97% and Leonoff reported 100%.
Whilst many questions can be raised regarding the reliability
and accuracy of the data, these studies may still have some merit.
As Hartung and Galvin (2003) comment, the clinicians deserve some
credit for having the courage to expose their method so publicly:
“After all, it might have turned out the other way: ninety
per cent of the callers could have announced to thousands of listeners
that they did not feel any better and that TFT is a hoax.”
Darby (2001) conducted a study of TFT with twenty
people with severe needle phobias that prevented them getting
appropriate medical treatment. They were treated with just one
hour of TFT. Statistically significant improvements were shown
at one month follow-up. [Reported in Hartung & Galvin, 2003]
Schoninger (2001) treated with TFT 48 people with
public speaking anxiety. Various questionnaire measures were used,
as well as the SUDs, relating to actual (in vivo) public speaking
exercises. Substantial lowering of anxiety was revealed following
treatment. [Reported in Hartung & Galvin 2003]
One study by Carbonell and colleagues conducted
a randomised double-blind study, comparing TFT with a placebo
treatment in which the subjects tapped points not used in true
TFT. The subjects in the true TFT condition showed significantly
greater improvement than the placebo group. This is not yet published
in full, but a summary is available at www.tftrx.com/ref_articles/6heights.html
Research on the validity of muscle testing
as a means of energy checks.
Although muscle testing inherently contains subjective elements
and may be open to a variety of influences, including suggestion,
there are quite a number of studies providing support for its
essential validity. Monti and colleagues (1999) used computerised
dynamometer to demonstrate that, in a group of 89 subjects, there
were highly significant differences in muscle strength according
to whether the person made a semantically congruent (i.e. true)
statement as opposed to an incongruent statement. Two studies
demonstrated significant interexaminer reliability for muscle
testing (Caruso and Leisman, 2000; Lawson and Calderon, 1997).
Several studies have shown differences in the electrical activity
of muscles which test weak as opposed to those which test strong,
and that this cannot be attributed simply to fatigue (e.g. Leisman
et al 1989; Leisman, 1995; Perot et al. 1991). Schmitt and Leisman
(1998) found a high degree of correlation between muscle testing
for allergies and the presence of antibodies (serum immunoglobulins)
for foods identified as allergenic by this procedure. Nevertheless,
muscle testing should clearly only be used as a guide rather than
a foolproof technique.
Research relating to meridians and subtle
Acupuncture, from which energy psychology methods is partly derived,
has been extensively studied (Stux & Pomeranx, 1995) and is
widely accepted as a useful and effective treatment for many conditions
– approved, for example, by the US National Institute of
Health, who list more than a hundred conditions that may be helped
with acupuncture (NIH 1997).
The specific points on the skin that are stimulated
during acupressure and energy tapping show differences in electrical
resistance compared to other points (Becker, 1990; Bergsmann &
Woolley-Hart, 1973; Cho, 1998; Cho & Chung, 1994; Liboff,
1997; Syldona & Rein, 1999) – and the meridian lines
which connect the acupressure points have a different electrical
resistance compared to other parts of the skin . Various studies,
using brain scanning techniques, have shown that changes in function
in various parts of the brain are associated with stimulation
of specific acupressure points (Cho, 1998; Darras, J.C. 1993;
Hui, K.S., 2000; Omura, 1989; 1990). Stimulation of the acupressure
points provokes release of opioid peptides (Swack, 2001).
Further evidence for the existence of the meridians
was demonstrated by the French researcher, Pierre de Vernejoul,
who injected radioactive isotopes into the acupoints and found
that the movement of the isotopes corresponded to the meridians;
there was no significant flow when the isotopes were injected
at other randomly chosen points (de Vernejoul, P. 1985) –
although some have suggested that de Vernejoul was actually detecting
the lymphatic system rather than the meridians (Stux & Pomeranx
1995). A Russian scientist, Vladimir Zagriadskii, found that soft
laser light was conducted along pathways corresponding to the
meridians; concluding that the meridians are superconductors,
he constructed a sensitive electrical device to detect and optimise
the activity within the meridians and this was then used successfully
to sustain the health of cosmonauts to the Mir Space Station (Narvaez
et al. 2002). Support for the existence of the chakra system is
provided by Pert (2000), who reports finding high concentrations
of neuropeptides at the sites of the first six of the seven main
Evidence that body tissues polarise and interconnect
through subtle bioelectric currents is provided by radiologist
Bjorn Nordenstrom (1983), whilst research suggesting a bodily
energy system responsible for the organisation and healing of
the body is reported by Becker and Selden (1985). Similarly, the
writings of biologist, Rupert Sheldrake (1985; 1988; 1999), present
much evidence for the existence of an organising morphogenetic
field, carrying a blueprint for the body, but also capable of
learning and of transmitting information down the generations.
This idea of an organising bioelectric field – or ‘L-field’
- was also explored in earlier research by Burr (1972), who concludes:
“Until modern instruments revealed the existence of the
controlling L-fields, biologists were at a loss to explain how
our bodies ‘kept in shape’ through ceaseless metabolism
and changes of material. Now the mystery has been solved, the
electro-dynamic field of the body serves as a matrix, which preserves
the ‘shape’ or arrangement of any material poured
into it, however often the material be changed.” [p 13].
The whole area of research on biological energy, particularly
the photon emissions of biological systems and their regulatory
role, is discussed extensively by Marco Bischof (1985) –
unfortunately not yet available in English .
The detection and measurement of the subtle energy
fields of the body are discussed in depth by Stanford physicist,
William Tiller (Tiller, 1997). These energies seem to have some
similarity with conventional magnetic fields, but in other ways
appear different. For example, Dr. Justa Smith of Rosary Hill
College in New York, found that both conventional high intensity
magnetic fields and the subtle magnetic fields of healers consistently
accelerated the activity of enzymes – but no significant
magnetic activity could be detected around the healers’
hands using a standard magnetometer (reported in Gerber, 2000,
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