Money Attitudes After Clinical Emotional Freedom Techniques: Psychological Change in a Virtual vs In-Person Group

Dawson Church, PhD; Anitha Vasudevan, MS; Alexander De Foe, PhD; Rhianna Lovegrove, MA



Context • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFTs) can reduce anxiety, depression, PTSD, and phobias. Research has found correlations between attitudes toward money and anxiety and depressive symptomatology. No research has yet examined the effectiveness of EFT in changing money attitudes.

Objective • The study intended to measure the effectiveness of EFT in changing money attitudes and to contrast EFT’s effects delivered virtually or in-person by evaluating multiple markers of stress, including anxiety, depression, pain, happiness, and PTSD.

Design • The research team performed a retrospective controlled study.

Participants • Participants were a convenience sample of 54 nonclinical individuals.

Intervention • The study included participants into an in-person group and a virtual group. The 24 participants in the in-person group met prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 35 participants in the virtual group participated in the workshop toward the end of 2020. Both used EFT to address money-related issues during a two-day workshop.

Outcome Measures • The research team used: (1) the brief version of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), GAD-2, to assess participants’ anxiety; (2) the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) to assess symptoms of depression over the two weeks prior to the testing; (3) the PTSD Checklist (PCL-2) to assess symptoms of PTSD over the month prior to the test; (4) the Happiness Scale, an 11-point Likert scale that indicates whether respondents feel happy in general; (5) the Numeric Pain Rating Scale, a self-rated average of pain that participants had experienced in the 24 hours prior to the test; and (6) the Money Attitudes Scale (MAS) to measure change in attitudes.

Results • Postintervention, the in-person group has significant reductions in anxiety (P = .023), PTSD (P = .013), and pain (P = .029) as well as significant improvements in happiness (P < .001). The group’s MAS scores for Power-Prestige (P = .008), Distrust (P <.001) and Money Anxiety (P < .01) also decreased significantly. At the six-month followup, the group’s mean scores showed significant decreases for PTSD (P < .001) and pain (P < .001) as well as significant improvements in happiness (P < .05).  Postintervention, the virtual group had a significant increase in happiness (P < .001), but while anxiety, depression, and pain decreased, the changes weren’t statistically significant. The group’s money attitudes also showed a significant increase in Retention-Time (P < .001) as well as significantly decreased scores for Distrust (P < .001), Money Anxiety (P < .01) and Power-Prestige (P < .01). At the six-month followup, the virtual group’s mean differences from baseline were greater than that of the in-person group.

Conclusions • The current study’s findings point toward EFT’s potential to improve money attitudes as well as psychological symptoms and indicated that EFT can be effective when delivered virtually. The study demonstrated improvements in anxiety, depression, pain, and happiness. The current research team recommends delivering EFT and other evidence-based therapies virtually, through apps, on-demand therapy sessions, virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI). (Adv Mind Body Med. 2023;37(3):4-14.)


Dawson Church, PhD, Executive Director; Anitha Vasudevan, MS, Research Assistant; National Institute for Integrative Healthcare, Fulton, CA, USA. Alexander De Foe, PhD, Faculty of Education, School of Educational Psychology and Counselling, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia. Rhianna Lovegrove, MA, Faculty of Society & Design, School of Psychology, Bond University, Robina, QLD, Australia.

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