Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

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Posted 02 September 2015

The Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is claimed by providers to be a “psychological acupressure technique” used to “optimize your emotional health”, or as claimed by Cathie van Rooyen on her South African website, “Classed under the banner of Energy Healing, EFT is the strangest, simplest way to get rid of negative habits, thoughts and feelings forever! Based on the ancient principles of acupuncture, EFT is a simple tapping procedure that gently realigns the body’s energy system, without the discomfort of needles.

What is the evidence for these claims?

This was tested in a complaint laid with the UK ASA against similar claims on a UK website. Not surprisingly, the owner could not furnish any evidence that this “technique” was able to fulfil the claims except based on her ‘belief’ and ‘anecdotal’ evidence.

The Skeptics Dictionary has more on this technique as does Wikipedia. Conclusion? Avoid unless you are happy with a placebo effect.

ASA Ruling on Susan Kennard

Susan Kennard
Hastings
TN34 3UA

Date: 2 September 2015

Media: Internet (on own site)

Complaint Ref: A15-301890

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad

Claims on the “How Can EFT Help Me?” page on www.susankennard.co.uk stated “Are you one of those people who tried everything to heal? … EFT is also a powerful technique to use with post traumatic stress (PTSD) … EFT has successfully solved many emotional as well as physical problems. Emotional problems Anxiety/Worries. Phobias (flying, heights). Bad habits/Addictions. Stress/Work pressure. Depression. Anger management. Power struggles. Physical problems Asthma. Blood pressure. Headaches. Body pain. IBS. Carpel tunnel syndrome And also problems like Overeating. Quitting Cigarettes. Sports performance. relationship difficulties and parenting issues And so much more. EFT often works where every other treatment fails. In fact EFT helps with virtually every physical and emotional problem you can think of. It is an alternative therapy where healing is done in a natural process … Emotional Freedom Technique uses 100% natural ways to comfort and heal people …”.

Issue

Good Thinking challenged whether:

  1. the efficacy claims for the listed conditions and problems were misleading and could be substantiated, and
  1. the claims “EFT is also a powerful technique to use with post-traumatic stress (PTSD)” and “EFT has successfully solved many emotional as well as physical problems … Addictions … Depression … Asthma. Blood pressure … Overeating …” were harmful and could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

12.112.23.13.7

Response

  1. Susan Kennard declined to provide the ASA with supporting evidence because, although she believed all the claims were capable of substantiation, the very nature of EFT meant that the material was mainly anecdotal and unlikely to be based on controlled research studies. She removed some of the claims.
  1. Susan Kennard removed most of the claims referring to medical conditions, but said anecdotal evidence and her own research with over 200 army veterans had shown EFT helped with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and that claim remained on the web page.

Assessment

  1. Upheld

No evidence was provided to the ASA to support the claims “EFT often works where every other treatment fails”, “EFT helps with virtually every physical and emotional problem you can think of. It is an alternative therapy where healing is done in a natural process” and “Emotional Freedom Technique uses 100% natural ways to … heal people”. Also we had not seen any evidence to show that EFT helped resolve the emotional, medical and personal problems listed on the page. We considered that the claims had not been substantiated and were therefore misleading and breached the Code.

On that point, the claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

  1. Upheld

We noted the CAP Code stated that marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought, and that included offering specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Although Susan Kennard removed a number of claims referring to medical conditions, the references to PTSD and eating disorders remained on the page. We considered that PTSD and eating disorders were conditions for which medical supervision should be sought and in the absence of evidence to demonstrate that any treatment would be carried out by a suitably qualified healthcare professional, we concluded the claims were likely to discourage essential treatment.

On that point the ad breached, CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Susan Kennard to ensure that her advertising did not make efficacy claims for EFT unless she held robust evidence to substantiate the claims. We also told Susan Kennard to ensure that her advertising did not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

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