Is acupoint stimulation an active ingredient in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)? A controlled trial of teacher burnout

Citation (APA Style): Reynolds, A. E. (2015). Is acupoint stimulation an active ingredient in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)? A controlled trial of teacher burnout. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 7(1), 14-21. doi:10.9769/EPJ.2015.07.01.AR


EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) has been the subject of much research over the past decade, with many studies of conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression showing significant treatment effects. In addition to elements drawn from established cognitive and exposure therapies, EFT uses the manual stimulation of acupuncture points (acupressure) through fingertip tapping. This study investigated the utility of EFT to address professional burnout in a population of school teachers. Participants were K–12 full time, public school teachers. They were assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which has three scales: Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and Personal Accomplishment. EFT was compared to a control condition that used sham tapping on a location on the forearm that does not include any acupuncture points. To reduce the possibility of cross-contamination between the two conditions, the study did not randomize participants within a single population. Instead, to minimize contact between experimental and control participants, the two samples were drawn from different school districts with similar demographic profiles in the same county. One hundred teachers were randomly selected from each district, of which 126 completed all assessments. Data analysis revealed that on all three indicators of burnout measured, EFT was significantly superior to the sham tapping control (p > .05). The results are consistent with earlier dismantling studies and indicate that acupoint tapping is an active ingredient in the therapeutic results obtained from EFT and not a placebo. EFT is inexpensive, easy to administer, and could be added to teacher mentor and retention programs to improve resiliency. A positive impact on teachers whose level of burnout is either negatively affecting the educational environment or has caused them to consider leaving the profession will help nurture and retain valuable assets for student learning.

Keywords: Teachers, burnout, EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, acupressure, dismantling

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