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A Controlled Comparison of the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Two Psychological Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing vs. Emotional Freedom Techniques

Citation: Karatzias, T., Power, K. Brown, K., McGoldrick, T., Begum, M., Young, J., Loughran, P., Chouliara, Z. & Adams, S. (2011). A controlled comparison of the effectiveness and efficiency of two psychological therapies for posttraumatic stress disorder: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing vs. emotional freedom techniques. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 199(6), 372-378. Click here to view Abstract


The present study reports on the first ever controlled comparison between eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and emotional freedom techniques (EFT) for posttraumatic stress disorder. A total of 46 participants were randomized to either EMDR (n = 23) or EFT (n = 23). The participants were assessed at baseline and then reassessed after an 8-week waiting period. Two further blind assessments were conducted at post-treatment and 3-months follow-up. Overall, the results indicated that both interventions produced significant therapeutic gains at post-treatment and follow-up in an equal number of sessions. Similar treatment effect sizes were observed in both treatment groups. Regarding clinical significant changes, a slightly higher proportion of patients in the EMDR group produced substantial clinical changes compared with the EFT group. Given the speculative nature of the theoretical basis of EFT, a dismantling study on the active ingredients of EFT should be subject to future research.

Editor’s Note

EMDR has a strong and favorable acceptance as a somatic trauma releasing technique and has been an accepted modality within the VA system in the US for treating veterans with PTSD. EFT has gained a considerable number of published studies indicating its effectiveness as well in treating PTSD symptoms. In this study 46 individuals, 23 receiving EMDR and 23 receiving and equal number of sessions of EFT had blinded assessments performed, with evaluations taken before, immediately after and 3 months after the treatments. Both groups showed significant clinical changes, producing “significant therapeutic gains” though “a slightly higher proportion of patients in the EMDR group” showed substantial gains. Given the near equal results that EFT exhibited in comparison to the much more well accepted EMDR technique in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy, this was an important step for the validity of EFT in being able to help individuals suffering from PTSD. Full paper was unavailable to review by this author.