How to Sell EFT to Health Professionals

By Masha Bennett

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I was honored to be one of the presenters at the recent EFT Gathering in Ilkley, Yorkshire, and the topic of my presentation was "Psycho-speak: How to talk to health professionals about EFT (without their eyes glazing over)". This article is based on the handout for my presentation. It may be of more relevance to those practising in the UK but could also be of use to practitioners in other countries.

General rules 

  • NEVER argue when you meet any resistance or scepticism!
  • Undersell
  • Pace, Pace, Pace, Pace, Pace…. Lead

Utilise the similarities between EFT and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing)

EMDR is a currently a fashionable, expensive-to-train-in, and desirable therapeutic modality – it has been endorsed by National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK for treatment of PTSD, alongside CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

In my own experience and that of many other practitioners and authors, EFT and EMDR appear to have a very similar, if not identical, mode of efficacy. When asked by health professionals (especially by psychologists), what EFT is - I say that it is very similar to EMDR but uses a different processing protocol, “can be easily self-administered”  (some aspects of EMDR protocol can be used for self-help, but in a much more limited way than EFT can), and has fewer contra-indications. I then add that the research evidence is still insufficient but my clinical experience and extensive anecdotal evidence, as well as a few research studies, “show promising results”.

Familiarise yourself with the background of EMDR, including the “dual attention” and “adaptive information processing” concepts (which can potentially be used to explain how EFT might work) -  there is a very useful Question & Answer section here: https://www.emdr.com/q&a.htm.

Forth Valley NHS Trust Behavioural Psychology Service in the UK has conducted clinical trials on comparing the efficacy of EFT and EMDR for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009, and the results should be published later in 2010. Their previous research had been fundamental in having EMDR accepted and recommended by NICE, and their recent study could be of equal importance for EFT.

Give examples of official health services and departments which use EFT alongside conventional treatments:

In the UK some examples of National Health Service departments using EFT are:

  • Forth Valley NHS (Behavioural Therapy Service)
  • Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust (Health Psychology Department)
  • Christie Hospital in Manchester (cancer/palliative care)
  • Central Lancashire NHS (current pilot study at Stop Smoking Service)
  • Lincoln NHS
  • Pembroke & Tavisock NHS

Be aware of complementary therapies recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (UK)

  • EMDR – for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Acupuncture – for Back Pain
  • Hypnotherapy – for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Your audience may be familiar with the above and may have had a positive experience with  or have a favourable opinion of one or more of the therapies above – if so, explain EFT by drawing parallels with these treatments (see the more detailed information on EMDR above).

Familiarise yourself with common mental health diagnoses

Look up DSM IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders) and be familiar with diagnostic criteria of the “disorders” that you are working with – you don’t need to know these by heart, but it is useful to be aware of main diagnostic features and be able to hold a discussion with a health professional’s about symptoms pertinent to these common mental health labels. If we claim to offer an effective treatment for PTSD, Addictions/Substance Dependency and other conditions, we really do need to have a good idea of what these labels mean in the orthodox health arena.  Some of the common diagnoses we may work with:

  • Depression
  • Health Anxiety
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder (with or without Agoraphobia)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Specific Phobia
  • Social Phobia
  • Substance Dependency

The Quick Reference to DSM IV is a much more compact and cheaper version than the full volume – this should be more than enough for your reference - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quick-Reference-Diagnostic-Criteria-DSM-IV-TR/dp/0890420262/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265155814&sr=8-2

Consider using Psychometric Measures in your practice

Thousands of spectacularly successful case studies described on Gary Craig’s and other websites on the internet are unfortunately of limited use in proving EFT’s efficacy without formal psychometric assessment scores – if these had been recorded at the beginning and at the end of treatment by the practitioners submitting their case studies, by now we could have had a huge volume of evidence (still not “gold standard”, but publishable) of EFT’s efficacy and could have attracted significant research funding.

The EFT Research Group in the UK is currently working on developing recommendations for the use of psychometric assessment measures for EFT practitioners/trainers who wish to help with gathering evidence of EFT efficacy, but some of the likely candidates to recommended for use on a routine basis are as follows:

  • GAD7 (Generalised Anxiety Disorder Scale) – for anxiety disorders
  • PHQ9 (Patient Health Questionnaire) – for depression
  • WSAS (Work & Social Adjustment Scale) – for general functioning
  • CORE 34  (www.coreims.co.uk) – for general functioning/level of distress

Other measures which can be used for free, such as Impact of Events ScaleRevised (for PTSD), Social Phobia Scale, Mobility Inventory (for Agoraphobia), Obsessive Compulsive Inventory etc, could also be used for specific issues. (Please note that Beck’s inventories for anxiety and depression, whilst useful, are not free to use and have to be paid for).

Here isa link to an excellent example of how an individual practitioner/therapist could use the assessment measures to evaluate the effectiveness oftheir work - and to use it  as an impressive promotional tool! http://www.ystc.co.uk/stress-trauma-How-useful-is-psychotherapy.html


Communication with Doctors/GPs/Psychiatrists

When seeing a new client, who fits any of the categories below, it would be ethical and courteous – as well as extremely useful for spreading the word about EFT – to write a letter to their Doctor / General Practitioner / Psychiatrist  (with the client’s consent):

* client who is prescribed any medication (especially any psychotropic medication)

* client who has or had a mental health diagnosis of any kind

* client who is currently undergoing any type of medical or psychological treatment (or had such treatment in the last 6 months)

* client whose existing symptoms could potentially be exacerbated by stimulating acupressure points, relaxation, and/or temporary increase in emotional intensity (such as epilepsy, breathing difficulties, blood pressure, pregnancy)

* client who reports suicidal thoughts and/or had attempted suicide in the past

* client who you are likely to see for more than one or two sessions

The letter would include: (a) client’s name, address, date of birth; (b) brief description of presenting problem; (c) client’s scores on psychometric assessment measures, if used; (d) planned treatment; (e) an invitation to contact you for more information should they wish to do so. If listing any of your credentials and experience, be concise and avoid “new age” sounding titles. (I have devised a template for such a letter and would be happy to share with any fellow practitioners who would like to establish better channels of communications with doctors and other health professionals.)

Make sure that you mark he envelope “Private & Confidential” which will let the recipient know that the correspondence is about their patient, and not advertising or other junk mail (doctors will not read your promotional materials, however well presented – they have far too much to read already).

In the UK General Practitioners do not formally refer their patients to private therapists – but may make an informal referral if they get to know about the efficacy of your practice – writing an initial letter and then another one at the end of the treatment, including the final assessment measure scores will go a long way to demonstrate your effectiveness and professionalism (as well as help to spread the word about EFT).

Use of Language

Try to introduce long abstract words into your vocabulary. It is sad that this should matter, but unfortunately it does – you are much more likely to get serious attention when talking about “cognitions” and “affect regulation” than about “thoughts” and “emotional management”. Some more examples of “psycho-babble” terms:

Imaginal exposure – The Movie Technique

Narrative-based exposure – Tell the Story Technique

Habituation – Getting used to (a feared object or situation)

Extinction – Elimination of fear response

Cognitive restructuring – Reframing

Schema – Belief system

Functional limitation – The extent to which someone’s day to day living is affected by the problem

Delivering presentations and workshops to health professionals

When running open workshops or courses, consider giving discounts or even free places to the employees of health services, and try to get the local management on board (at least in the UK, it appears that acceptance  of EFT for use alongside conventional treatments depends mostly on the open-mindedness and good will of local managers).

During your presentation, consider taking out words such as “chi”, “meridians” or, alternatively, use them with extreme care – unless you know that a significant proportion of the audience already accept the energy model as an explanation for how EFT and related therapies work. Use the more scientific explanations, such as those cited by David Feinstein (2008) in his excellent article “Energy Psychology: A Review of the Preliminary Evidence”, which can be found at http://www.innersource.net/ep/articlespublished/researchoverview.html, and quote some of the research which is summarised in the same article.

Do bear in mind that many of the existing EFT research studies are not “gold standard” – i.e. the quality of research design may be poor, so they do not yet represent the definitive proof of its efficacy in the eyes of scientific/medical community. So don’t be too pushy with your agenda when quoting any research – it would be useful to pre-empt any criticism and to mention that many of the studies conducted so far were not well designed, and that further research is necessary and is ongoing.  Generally, do familiarise yourself with the critics’ main arguments .

When introducing EFT to groups/individuals who are likely to be sceptical, start with simple examples, such as

  • Physical pains & aches
  • Specific phobia

When working with a group of health professionals, it may be wise to initially omit the Set-up statement, and only introduce it when the majority in the group have experienced some personal benefits and begin to open to more possibilities (unless a significant proportion of the group are in psychological reversal, the results should still be impressive even without the Set-up).

I would be very interested to hear of other practitioners’ experiences (successful and otherwise) of communicating with health professionals about EFT and related therapies – perhaps in some future we could develop a comprehensive resource which will enable us to explain and promote meridian therapies within the conventional health arena – without our listeners’ eyes glazing over.


Author's Bio:

Masha Bennett is a registered neurolinguistic psychotherapist and advanced EFT practitioner based in the UK, who combines her private therapy and training practice with work in the National Health Service. She is also trained in EMDR, CBT and a range of other therapies. Masha teaches EFT around the world, including England, Norway, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Israel and Kazakhstan, and offers supervision/mentoring to EFT practitioners, face-to-face and over the phone. 

Contact Masha for free resources, including one-page EFT Chart, SUD record sheet, Problem Inventory, and a Doctor/GP Letter Template.








Karen Jowitt
Posted March 15, 2010 10:33 AM

Hi Masha
I would be very interested in the reserach that you and your team are currently undertaking. Please can you tell me when it is likely to be published and which Journal it will be in.
many thanks
Karen Jowitt


Masha Bennett
Posted March 15, 2010 04:00 PM

Hi Karen,

The Research group is still in the early stages of development, but you can look it up at www.eftresearch.co.uk, there is a new database for EFT practitioners to register, if you want to be kept informed about and/or support any future studies or projects.

Masha Bennett


Angela Dawson
Posted April 05, 2010 10:05 AM

Dear Masha,

Thanks for making this information freely available. It really is a valuable resource for anyone interested in introducing EFT to the health service.

When I worked as a senior nurse, I struggled to find the right words to convey how extremely useful and effective I had found EFT to be and I was also keenly aware that the evidence base was limited and, as you say, not of the gold standard double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial variety.

That said, I have spoken with consultants and NHS Trusts who are open to the idea of EFT. Most recently, I have been focusing on helping mothers to release the fears surrounding childbirth and providing support in the post-natal period and beyond. I have been contacted by a local Practice Development Midwife who is keen to hear about my work.
I am grateful for coming across your article in it's entirety - I had already seen a synopsis on AAMET Buzz - and feel better prepared to explain the benefits of EFT.

I'd appreciate a copy of your free resources (probelm inventory, letter template, sud etc...).

Warm regards,

Angela Dawson


Suzanne Zacharia
Posted July 09, 2010 04:47 PM

Hi Masha,

Great article. I particularly like the citing of NHS places that use EFT. In my new country of residence, I will now be compiling such a list to quote when needed.

Thank you so much,



Posted May 13, 2012 04:59 PM

Hi Marsha,

Thank you for the advice, would it be possible to get your free resources on doctors letters etc please, I think it would help establish my practise.

Thank you.



Posted May 14, 2012 02:29 AM

Hi Michael,

Yes of course, do email me through my website and I will send you a copy of this.



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