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Clinical EFT as single session therapy: Cases, research, indications, and cautions

Citation (APA Style): Church, D. (2013). Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) as single session therapy: Cases, research, indications, and cautions. In M. Hoyt & M. Talmon (Eds.), Capturing the moment: Single session therapy and walk-in service. Bethel, CT: Crown House.


Clinical EFT (Emotion Freedom Techniques) is an evidence-based practice that combines elements of exposure and cognitive therapies with the manual stimulation of acupuncture points. The research literature indicates it to be efficacious for a number of psychological conditions in a variety of treatment time frames. Randomized controlled trials demonstrate that EFT effectively treats phobias and certain anxiety disorders in one session. A single session also results in a significant drop in cortisol and normalization of the EEG frequencies associated with stress. EFT has the client focus on specific traumatic memories; the emotional intensity of these memories usually diminishes rapidly during treatment. This makes EFT an efficient single-session treatment for emotional distress associated with episodic memories. For conditions such as complex co-morbid PTSD, combination treatments and longer courses are indicated, though even treatment-resistant clients often experience some relief after a single session. Psychological symptoms of PSTD, depression, and anxiety typically reduce simultaneously, along with physical symptoms such as pain and insomnia. Clinical EFT also offers a suite of techniques developed to address treatment barriers such as dissociation and overwhelming emotion. This review and case series examines the conditions for which a brief course of EFT treatment is appropriate, when it is not indicated, when it can be taught to the client as a form of self-care, and when professional administration is required. It also cautions against generalizing EFTs rapid efficacy for certain conditions; this may contribute to unreasonable expectations in therapist or client. EFT is recommended as a front line primary care intervention to improve mental health and physical symptoms.

Keywords: PTSD, phobias, depression, anxiety, cortisol, psychotherapy, primary care, EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques

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