Bye bye stress with “psychological acupuncture”?

Bye bye stress with “psychological acupuncture”? /></p>
<p> Emotional Freedom Techniques is presented as an energetic approach. </p>
<p>A stress reduction method consisting of tapping your “energy points”? Also described as “psychological acupuncture”? There was reason to be suspicious, thought the <em>Rumor detector</em>.</p>
<h3 id=The origin of the rumour

An article recently produced by the Special Publications team of the Devoir —which is marketing, not the newsroom — referred to it as “EFT” (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or, according to the title, “ psychological acupuncture ”. Elsewhere, we can also find these words accompanied by other labels such as “thought field therapy”.

C what is EFT?

Emotional Freedom Techniques (in French, techniques for the release of emotions) is presented as an energetic approach – that is to say that it is based on the theory according to which our body would be traversed by a “flow of energy “. The therapy consists of performing gentle tapping (in English, “tapping”) on specific acupuncture points.

The technique was devised in the 1990s by Gary Craig, an engineer at the Stanford University. According to its official website, “the cause of all negative emotions is a disturbance in the energy system of the body”. Tapping on specific parts of the body is said to release negative emotions and bring relief to many emotional and physical problems. 

More precisely, it is a question of first evoking the problem that the person wishes to solve, then of classifying its intensity on a scale of 0 to 10. Then, it is necessary to state a sentence to be repeated during the tapping session, such as “Even if I have [problem], I deeply accept myself”. Finally, the person classifies the intensity of the problem again, to see if the session had an effect. The procedure can be repeated until a low score is obtained.

Does it work?< /h3>

The big downside is that a good part of the technique is based on a subjective assessment of the problem made by the person himself. Several studies have suggested that EFT can be effective in reducing anxiety, fighting depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2012 study, replicated in 2020, even shows effects on cortisol levels, a biological marker of stress.

But an important question remains: what are the mechanisms involved? Does touching specific parts of the body induce a change or do other techniques integrated into this treatment play a role? For example, emphasis is placed on a particular way of breathing or on exposure, which is one of the components of cognitive behavioral therapy (it involves identifying a specific event and the corresponding emotion, naming it precisely, to better surpass it).

According to the Order of Psychologists of Quebec, in the past 10 years, two continuing education activities on clinical EFT have been recognized in the province. Psychologists registering for this training are advised to be cautious, but very few seem to use this technique in Quebec.


If studies seem to show an impact, others will be needed to establish that it is indeed the “ pressure points ” that play a role, compared to the elements of cognitive therapy.

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