Acupressure-Based Technique Is Highly Effective at Treating Anxiety

A quick and simple non-drug treatment is highly effective for anxiety, according to a comprehensive study. The study was published in the oldest peer-reviewed psychiatry journal in North America, and examined 14 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of a behavioral method called EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques. Described by as: “one of the most successful psychology self-help techniques ever developed,” EFT combines cognitive psychology with acupressure.

The 14 studies included 658 participants drawn from a variety of demographic groups. These included college and high school students, overweight people, war veterans, hospital patients, gifted children, fibromyalgia patients, and people with phobias. The types of anxiety ranged from fear of public speaking to test anxiety to phobias of small animals such as rats and mice.

The analysis was performed by Morgan Clond, MD, PhD, a research physician at State University of New York, and evaluated the effect of EFT using a statistical technique called meta-analysis. This measures the effect of treatment on a continuum from 0.2 indicating a small effect to 0.8 for a large effect. EFT measured 1.23, demonstrating a very large effect resulting from treatment.

Treatment time frames in the RCTs were typically brief, from 30 minutes for phobic patients to six hour-long sessions for war veterans with PTSD. Among Clond’s observations were that EFT can be used as a self-help method, as well as in formal psychotherapy or medical care, and that it requires very few sessions to produce a treatment effect. EFT is also low-risk and low-cost when compared to lengthy courses of talk therapy. Clond noted, however, that there are too few studies comparing EFT with Gold Standard treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to be able to evaluate the two against each other.

Clond notes that because EFT can be taught to patients quickly and used anytime, it reduces barriers to anxiety treatment. It also can be applied by medical support staff and does not require the services of a highly trained and costly professional. Based on the results of the meta-analysis, EFT is a safe, simple, evidence-based self-help method that can be used alongside conventional psychological and medical care.

Reference: Clond, M. (2016). Emotional Freedom Techniques for anxiety: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 204(5), 388–395. doi:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000483

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Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews of EFT Research