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  • ORIGINAL RESEARCH

    Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    Is Acupoint Tapping an Active Ingredient or an Inert Placebo in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)? A Randomized Controlled Dismantling Study Louis Fox, Liverpool John Moores University

    Abstract

    most widely used energy psychology method.

    - trol group—to assess emotional self-report

    and mindfulness were measured immediately - -

    t -

    - p p -

    p p

    -

    -

    p p -

    -

    consistent with other published reports demon- -

    logical conditions in students.

    Keywords:

    Louis Fox Corre-

    spondence: -

    Acknowledgment:

    Disclosures:

    aimed at effecting therapeutic psychologi- cal change in individuals by combining the

    -

    condition while the relevant psychological issue is simultaneously mentally activated. A variation

    theory that tapping one universal set of acupoints

    such as these have since been referred to under the umbrella term energy psychology

    mechanisms of EP that has commonly been put

    of a complete empirically based model of true

    -

    -

  • Energy Psychology Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    -

    found that gains from these interventions often

    - ticipants receiving substantial amounts of gain in

    -

    the attention of many psychological research-

    area of research is just beginning to mature. Vari- ous universities and research institutions have

    has for several psychological conditions met the

    -

    are still being performed by proponents of EP - -

    EP since its conception.

    appears to be due mainly to an incomplete theo-

    - -

    established cognitive and behavioral treatments

    -

    and are addressed by the present study. Although the mechanisms by which acupoint

    -

    there have been reports of direct empirical evidence of effects on the brain and autonomic

    - ticipants self-reporting improvement following

    increased amplitude of theta brainwaves in the

    -

    - -

    which had shown statistical abnormality before

    appeared to be statistically normal during recall. A posttreatment trend toward an increase in delta

    emotional distress relating to her abuse since her

    - cantly more than did supportive interviews or a no

    - cesses has yet to be investigated.

    insights into potential mechanisms. A series of

    amygdala and other areas of the limbic system

    crossover study has also shown needling to be no more effective than tapping in promoting analge-

  • Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    in this study it was unclear whether results were indicative of a placebo effect.

    - lished therapies have been cited as a possible

    to determine the effect of treatment ingredients

    - -

    -

    suggested that future research into mechanisms

    that has been made to isolate the acupoint tap-

    -

    control condition yielded similar improvement

    - mary mediators in the apparent effectiveness of

    -

    - jective self-report measure of phobia fear is not a

    demand characteristics effects.

    -

    -

    separated the self-acceptance statement and acu-

    involved with this research was uncomfortable with such methodology because of concerns about the emotional wellbeing of control participants.

    construction of a structured and coherent control

    in the sense that acupoint tapping and the self- acceptance statements were isolated together

    long periods of time were beyond the scope of this -

    -

    - -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    relationships between the emotions it claims to -

    of the relationship of achievement goals and achievement emotions with performance attain-

    - ment goals were found to predict achievement

  • Energy Psychology Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    -

    relationship between achievement goals and per-

    -

    to negatively predict later achievement. As noted

    general would appear to be “an integral part of learning in close interaction with conative and

    -

    - -

    -

    greater decreases than were found in the control

    -

    -

    with cognitive behavioral therapy and a hybrid

    -

    n

    -

    -

    depression—negative emotional states that could reasonably be associated with the stress of uni-

    may be effective in reducing the intensity of nega- tive emotions over a long-term basis.

    Mindfulness is a construct that is steeped in - -

    chology and mainstream society in recent years.

    in promoting positive psychological well-being and providing relief from negative psychologi-

    awareness bodily feeling and acceptance being nonjudgmental or nonanalytical of such

    aware of the emotions or bodily sensations that he or she feels with regard to the issue being addressed. Acceptance of such feelings is also

    -

    - ity of negative emotions and promoting psy-

    - ated with independent study in university stu-

    -

  • Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    - -

    -

    - fulness would moderate or mediate any observed

    Method Participants

    of second- or third-year undergraduate students n M

    the researcher.

    Measures

    n M

    n M - ticipants were randomly assigned to groups via

    -

    were measured immediately before the interven-

    -

    Emotions related to studying were measured

    - -

    -

    in terms of relationships with student control-

    - -

    strongly agree strongly disagree -

    -

    been demonstrated to be internally consist-

    -

    - never very often

    Procedures Participants underwent the procedure individ-

    -

    -

    -

    how the emotion felt in their body and sometimes invited to imagine sending a breath toward any

    The EFT Manual

  • Energy Psychology Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    the intervention.

    Practitioner

    -

    trained hypnotherapist.

    Results

    t tests found none of the emo-

    p p

    × -

    study-related emotions in that group than in the control condition. Assumptions for parametric test- ing were met for two of the dependent variables

    ×

    p test showed the variances amongst these variables to

    p

    × -

    F p

    F p

    data for the variables anger p p

    × -

    F p

    F p × for all other emotion measures and mindfulness were

    found for either group or time on any of the emo-

    individual Awareness and Acceptance dimensions of

    of mindfulness bore any relationship with par- -

    r for the relationship between - .

    when all study participants were grouped together

    would therefore appear to be unsupported by the

    Post hoc analysis was performed using paired samples t -

    on all emo-

    among control participants was on

    particular emotions addressed by the sessions

    into positive emotions and negative emotions and

    score was calculated from enjoyment, pride. Pride

    -

    -

    implied by the term pride

    After being grouped into positive emotions

    p

    F p F p F p

    F p

    × F

    p F p time main effects for these two dependent vari-

    effect for time for negative emotions approached F p

  • Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    Table 1: Dependent Variables Before (T1 ) and After (T2 ) Treatment

    Variable T1 T2 t p

    M SD M SD Enjoyment

    Pride

    Anger

    Positive emotions

    Note.

    Post hoc analysis was performed on posi- tive emotions and negative emotions using paired-sample t - tions increased and negative emotions decreased

    p among control

    participants for either positive emotions or nega-

    adverse events were reported by participants.

    Discussion Analysis of the data gathered in the present

    self-perceived levels of study-related enjoyment

  • Energy Psychology Tapping: Active Ingredient or Inert Placebo?

    and hope and decreasing self-perceived levels

    all positive emotions and all negative emotions

    t -

    -

    -

    would appear to be unsup-

    may be a useful tool for both regulating negative and cultivating positive emotions associated with

    therefore be useful in assisting students to engage with studies and potentially achieve more posi-

    may be particularly effective at addressing study-

    have spent the majority of the session focusing

    - tively address various affective components of

    -

    × - actions were still obtained when these emotion variables were combined with other positive or

    ×

    - tive emotions was found to be stronger—and

    anger or shame.

    of acupoint tapping with simultaneous vocali-

    - ties among between-groups conditions within the present study refute the idea that this effect could

    -

    must also be conceded that individual differences -

    participants were blind as to whether they were

    -

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