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Other Studies and Experiments

An Objective Experiment on the Use of EFT for Depression

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

By Dawson Church, PhD

One of the exciting and growing trends in EFT is the use of research to validate the experiences people have. While stories are valuable, research allows us to give numerical scores to the improvement people experience. If you have a cut on your arm, you can observe how long it takes to heal. You can also see visually if the healing process slows or speeds up. Using scores for psychological wellbeing allows us to do the same thing for the mind and emotions as observation allows us to do for the body.

I recently did an experiment evaluating the use of EFT in treating depression. The subject of the experiment was Anne, a 45 year old woman who was diagnosed with clinical depression more than ten years previously. She used an antidepressant medication called Zoloft for the first few years, and it allowed her to function, though she found the side effects to be unpleasant. Her depression lifted temporarily three years previously when she fell in love, but after the brief relationship ended, she found herself back in the hole. Rather than going back on antidepressants, she decided to “white knuckle it” without them.

I measured her depression in two distinct ways. One was by using a widely used questionnaire called the Beck Depression Inventory or BDI. It has 63 questions that measure various aspects of depression, and a low score indicates a low level of depression, while a high score indicates greater depression.

I also used a second test called a “bioassay.” This particular bioassay was developed by a research team at the University of Arizona led by a distinguished psychologist named Gary Schwartz. Bioassays measure the degree of plant growth. The theory is that if the life energy of a seed is compromised, it will grow less rapidly. If the life energy is enhanced, it will grow better. I have set up a research nonprofit, Soul Medicine Institute ( which is undertaking rigorous scientific studies of EFT. We are looking at the effects of EFT on depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), wound healing, and other conditions. All these studies are being done to the highest standard of scientific proof, called a Randomized Controlled Double Blind Clinical Trial. We draw on the wisdom of many other researchers, such as those at the University of Arizona, in designing our experiments.

In my experimental design, my research assistant had Anne hold a packet of 20 seeds in her hands at the beginning of the session, after completing a BDI questionnaire. Gary Craig then did a 2 ½ hour session with Anne, addressing many aspects of her depression. Anne then held a second packet of seeds in her hand, and completed a second BDI.

Back at Soul Medicine Institute, the seeds were carefully prepared for germination in Petri dishes, and sprouted for 72 hours. A third group of seeds was simultaneously sprouted; this third control group had not been held by anyone. All three groups of seeds were treated identically. The person caring for the seeds did not know which group was which, this is called a blind experiment.

The results of this experiment are now available on the Soul Medicine Institute web site. The photographs are striking.

Seeds held before treatment: 5 failed to germinate, 4 developed root hairs.

Seeds held after treatment: 1 failed to germinate, 14 developed root hairs.

Seeds not held: 2 failed to germinate, 4 developed root hairs.

You can see these photographs at:

The results of the BDI echoed the growth rate of the seeds. Anne scored 23 out of 63 on the BDI before treatment. Right after treatment, she scored 3. This was a very large drop. We tested her again 30 days after the session to see if the results had held, and her score was 16. In 60 days, it had gone down even more, to 13. So her score of depression on the BDI, which is the most widely used questionnaire for anxiety, was 43% lower two months after just ONE EFT treatment. And the plant growth measurements corroborated this change.

It is not possible to generalize Anne’s results to others until we do the same experiment with many more people. But the fact that both the bioassay and the BDI gave similar results indicates that this method of measuring depression is worth further study. I have summarized all the other research using EFT in my book The Genie in Your Genes (, which explores the scientific basis for such rapid healing. I have several larger experiments underway using EFT for other conditions, and I will report the results of these to you as the results come in.

Dawson Church, PhD


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.