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CAM and Energy Psychology Techniques Remediate PTSD Symptoms in Veterans and Spouses; Church & Brooks 2014

Veterans and Spouses with PTSD Symptoms Receive Integrated Program Utilizing EFT Demonstrates Significant Reduction in PTSD Related Depression (83% with clinical PTSD symptoms prior, reduced to 28% in male veterans and from 29% down to 4% for female spouses)

Citation: Church, D., & Brooks, A. J. (2014). CAM and energy psychology techniques remediate PTSD symptoms in veterans and spouses. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 10(1), 24-33. Click here to read the Abstract


Male veterans and their spouses (N = 218) attending one of six-week-long retreats were assessed for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms pre- and post-intervention. Participants were evaluated using the PTSD checklist (PCL), on which, a score of >49 indicates clinical symptom levels. The mean pretest score was 61.1 (SD ± 12.5) for veterans and 42.6 (SD ± 16.5) for spouses; 83% of veterans and 29% of spouses met clinical criteria. The multimodal intervention used Emotional Freedom Techniques and other energy psychology (EP) methods to address PTSD symptoms and a variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities for stress reduction and resource building. Interventions were delivered in group format as well as individual counseling sessions. Data were analyzed for each retreat, as well as for the six retreats as a whole. Mean post-test PCL scores decreased to 41.8 (SE ± 1.2; p < .001) for veterans, with 28% still clinical. Spouses demonstrated substantial symptom reductions (M = 28.7, SE ± 1.0; p< .001), with 4% still clinical. A follow-up assessment (n = 63) found PTSD symptom levels dropping even further for spouses (p < .003), whereas gains were maintained for veterans. The significant reduction in PTSD symptoms is consistent with other published reports of EP treatment, though counter to the usual long-term course of the condition.

The results indicate that a multimodal CAM intervention incorporating EP may offer benefits to family members as well as veterans suffering from PTSD symptoms. Recommendations are made for further research to answer the questions posed by this study.

Editor’s Note

This experiment resulted in significant gains made not only by veterans afflicted by PTSD but also a neglected demographic, veteran’s spouses. 218 male veterans and their wives attended one of six week-long retreats and were assessed for PTSD symptoms. 83% of the veterans and 29% of their spouses were found to have met the clinical criteria for PTSD according to the PTSD (PCL and PCL-M) checklist. Scores of above 50 are indicative of a clinical diagnosis of PTSD. The veterans had a pre-intervention mean score of 61.1 and spouses, 42.6.  A variety of interventions were used in the week-long process, including EFT, WHEE, TAT, yoga, resource building, stress reduction information in both group and individualized settings. EFT was delivered in a single 4 hour group session and then 3 one hour individualized sessions. Other options included massage, yoga, Reiki, acupuncture and all participated in a half day equine assisted therapy session and a retreat beginning and ending Native American ceremony. The obvious challenge with such an experiment is the ability to determine what factors played a significant role in reducing the PTSD symptoms. Lack of a control group and all improvements measured only by subjective reports should be noted. The mean post scores for veterans reduced to 41.8 with 28% still clinical, while the spouses improved to a mean of 28.7 with only 4% still clinical. Four to six weeks later a follow up was performed, with 63 participants that revealed continued score dropping for spouses with veterans retaining their gains.