Knock, and it will be opened to you? An evaluation of meridian-tapping in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Author: Moritz S, Aravena SC, Guczka SR, Schilling L, Eichenberg C, Raubart G, Seebeck A, Jelinek L.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Conference/Journal: J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry.
Date published: 2011 Mar
Other: Volume ID: 42 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 81-8 , Word Count: 271

Meridian-tapping (MT) is a body-oriented therapeutic technique which among other psychological problems targets anxiety disorders. Despite bold claims by some of its advocates that it brings lasting success in the vast majority of patients with anxiety disorders, solid empirical evidence for its effectiveness is scarce and its theoretical foundations are refuted by many scientists. The present study tested the effectiveness of a published MT self-help approach for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Following a baseline assessment over the internet including standard outcome measures for OCD (Y-BOCS, OCI-R) and depression (BDI-SF), 70 participants with OCD were randomly allocated to MT or to progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). Four weeks after the dispatch of the self-help manuals (including video demonstrations of the technique), participants were requested to take part in a post assessment. Whereas subjects found MT more helpful than PMR in retrospect (39% versus 19%) and would continue to use it in the future (72% versus 48%) there was no evidence for a stronger decline of OCD symptoms under MT on any of the psychometric measures. Moreover, Y-BOCS scores did not significantly change across time for both interventions. The present study does not support bold claims about the effectiveness of MT as a stand-alone technique. Cognitive-behavioral therapy remains the treatment of choice for OCD. While self-help MT may enhance the well-being of a subgroup of participants, its potential for OCD appears to be small. Exaggerated success claims on the effectiveness of MT in conjunction with degrading appraisals of conventional psychotherapy as made by some of its leading figures may in our view foster fatalism in patients not experiencing major symptom relief by MT.

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PMID: 20705281