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Effects of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on the reduction of chronic pain in adults: A pilot study

Citation (APA Style): Ortner, N., Palmer-Hoffman, J., & Clond, M. A. (2014). Effects of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on the reduction of chronic pain in adults: A pilot study. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 6(2), 14—21. doi:10.9769.EPJ.2014.6.2.NO


This pilot study examined the effects of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on pain reduction in adults with chronic pain. A brief exposure therapy that combines cognitive and somatic elements, EFT has previously been found to be effective in the treatment of a number of psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, phobia, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Research into EFT’s effect on the treatment of physical pain and somatic complaints is less well established. In the present study, 50 adults with chronic pain participated in a 3-day workshop to learn how to use EFT. Pain was measured on the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) and the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI) immediately before and after treatment and at 1-month and 6-month follow-ups. Significant reductions were found on each of the PCS item scores (rumination, magnification, and helplessness) and on the PCS total score (-43%, p < .001). On the MPI, significant improvements were observed in pain severity, interference, life control, affective distress, and dysfunctional composite. At 6-month follow-up, reductions were maintained on the PCS (-42%, p < .001) but only on the life control item for the MPI. Findings suggest that EFT helps immediately reduce pain severity while also improving participants’ ability to live with their pain. Although reductions in pain severity were observed at 1-month follow-up but not maintained in the long-term, participants continued to report an improved sense of control and ability to cope with their chronic pain. The results of this pilot study are consistent with the literature and suggest directions for further research.

Keywords: Emotional Freedom Techniques, EFT, chronic pain, catastrophizing, group therapy

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