Are EP Modalities ‘Evidence Based’?

One of the issues we are hearing from those of you who are ‘on the front lines’, when discussing EP techniques with colleagues, is the rejoinder that “that sounds very interesting, but it is not ‘evidence based’….

As most of you know, EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH TENDS TO LAG BEHIND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE, often by years. It took the British Navy more than 75 years to begin issuing limes to their sailors to prevent scurvy, after Dr James Lind brought it to the attention of the British Royal Commission. Because it was not (yet!) ‘evidence based’, and even though the ‘mechanism of action’ (ie. Vitamin C) was not identified until the 20th century, it is estimated that 100,000 sailors died during that period, whose lives could have been saved, had they implemented Lind’s recommendations immediately.

It is interesting to note that many current medical practices, e.g. the use of Caesarean section (which has increased dramatically in the last 30 years), has never been experimentally ‘proven,’ and is not really ‘evidence based’ either.

In a 2003 article in the British Medical Journal,

“Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials,” Drs Gordon Smith and Jill Pell point out that

“the effectiveness of parachutes has never been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of ‘evidence based medicine” organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute.” (BMJ 2003;327:1459-1461 (20 December)).

2. While EFT, TFT and TAT  are not (yet) on the ‘official’ DMH list of ‘evidence based psychotherapies,’ we have approximately 15 small studies demonstrating efficacy of EP modalities in the treatment of phobias, anxiety, depression, weight loss maintenance and PTSD.

Dawson Church has completed five pilot studies demonstrating efficacy (as demonstrated by significant drops in anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks and depression) with PTSD in veterans; and there are two studies currently in progress, one at Columbia Pacific Medical Center (San Francisco), and the other at Walter Reed Medical Center, which will be comparing EFT to CBT in treating PTSD. Dr. Charles Elder and colleagues are completing a major study (500 subjects), for which they received an NIH grant, exploring the efficacy of TAT in weight loss maintenance; this study will be completed in November, 2010.

Thus, ‘evidence based’ research has been done, and larger studies are currently underway.

3. Another way of reframing these discussions is to recognize that EFT, TFT, etc are new ‘hybrid therapies,’ and, as David Feinstein has pointed out, are a form of ‘acupressure assisted exposure therapy.’ EP modalities combine ‘evidence based’ therapies (exposure therapy, exposing the subject to an imagined stimulus, while challenging negative cognitions (via setup statements —- a form of CBT!)), with acupressure desensitization.

For a fuller discussion of this issue, see Dr. James Lane’s paper, “The Neurochemistry of Counterconditioning,’

Thus, it is only a matter of time before TFT, EFT, TAT, AIT, ETC get on the official lists of ‘evidence based therapies,’ and become more widely accepted and practiced. I personally am hopeful that this will occur over the next five years.

John Freedom

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