Staffordshire University’s response to ‘Tapping Therapy’ article

Media claims about the effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are largely false, an article by The Henry Mayhew Foundation revealed. Despite this, doctors and academics are promoting EFT on the NHS, a move one expert has called “irresponsible.”

The BBC and the Daily Mail appeared to recycle a Staffordshire University press release, which says:

“Health researchers from Staffordshire University have called on NHS Trusts across the UK to adopt a new emerging self-help method known as tapping – or emotional freedom technique (EFT) – after its effectiveness for treating a number of conditions was proven (emphasis added).”

Two studies were mentioned supporting this claim, but one was unpublished, so we could not verify its findings. The other study, conducted in 2013 by Antony Stewart, Professor of Public Health, and his team, looked at EFT’s effectiveness in treating various emotional conditions.

The authors claim the results “highlight the successful role of EFT in reducing a wide range of physical and psychological disorders.” However, the paper says “the limitations of the study design … precludes the ability to infer its results to the wider population,” which means EFT was not proven effective. We spoke to experts who supported this view.

Staffordshire University responded by saying:

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Claim: Tapping therapy’s effectiveness “was proved”

On 15 – 16 January 2014 the Daily Mail reported: “Experts are calling on the NHS to start using a new self-help technique, called tapping, after its effectiveness in treating a number of conditions was proved (emphasis added). The BBC ran a more cautious headline: “Tapping therapy helps patients with depression”, calling the treatment very effective (emphasis added). Many people criticised the claims including Dr Ben Goldacre. Alex Langford, a junior Psychiatrist, called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) “dangerous nonsense”.

True or False?

The claim is largely false as the findings of one small-scale study have been overstated.

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