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EFT Research Paper

Does Combining Emotional Freedom Techniques and Hypnosis Have and Effect on Sexual Assault-Specific Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms?

Citation: Anderson, K., Rubik, B., Absenger, W., (2019). Does combining emotinoal freedome techniques and hypnois have an effect on sexual assault specific posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. J. of Energy Psychology, Theory, Research and Treatment. 11(2) p. 31-49


Objectives: Postraumatic stres disorder (PTSD) affects approximately eight million American adults per year (US Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019) Nearly 70% of rape and sexual assault surviviors will experience PTSD or symptoms of severe distress (US Department of Justice, 2017) Sexual assualt-specific PTSD has unique components due to the personal and invasive nature of the attack, Though effective for some, traditional approaches to the treatment of PTSD often fail due to the unwanted side effects of the medication, cost of treatment, and the potential for overwhelming the survivor by asking them to talk about their experience. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of a combined treatment modality of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and hypnosis on sexual assault-specific PTSD symptons.

Design: This study utilized and explanatory sequential mixed method design.

Setting: This study was conducted in a private psychotherapy office.

Subjects: 30 individuals with self-identified suexual assault-specific PTSD were recruited and participated in this study.

Interventions: EFT and hypnose conbined.

Outcome Measures: A paired samples t-test analysis between the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition]) baseline and post-intervention scores as well as an open-endee question was utilized.

Results: t(29) = 12.198, p < .001, indicating that overall the change in self-reported symptom ratings was statistically different between the two time points. The open-ended qualitative question pointed to a realtionship between experience in session and the PCL-5 score.

Conclusion: This study found an overall decrease of 34.3% on PTSD symptom severity based on POCL-5 assessment scores, after four sessions of the com bined EFT and hypnosis treamten.

Keywords: EFT, hypnosis, PTSD, sexual assault, trauma, mind-body interventions.


Craig’s Comments: I was excited to discover a newly published study using EFT in conjunction with hypnosis to assist those suffering from sexual assault-specific PTSD. Published in November 2019*, researchers Anderson, Rubik and Absenger conducted a mixed method design dissertational study of 30 individuals who received 5 sessions (4 consisting of EFT and Hypnosis), which to my knowledge has never been performed in a trial like this before (40 min of EFT and 20 min of hypnosis) over an 8 week period of time. While this was not a randomized control trial, it was the first exploration of its kind. The EFT was delivered by a trained therapist using EFT as described in the EFT Manual (Church 2018) and the hypnosis was also administered by the same clinician including induction, imager and hypnotic suggestions.

The 30 individuals in the study qualified as the result of having suffered from a sexual assault no less then 6 months prior and no more than 5 years ago with self-identified PTSD symptoms of mild to moderate PTSD symptoms who were not on psychotropic medications and without the presence of other severe psychiatric illness. Results were measured via the PCL-5 (the DSM-5 PTSD Checklist) self-scored examination and qualitative measures.

So, what were the results?

  • Participants overall felt changes in self-perception, improved interpersonal relations, increase relief from anxiety, increased levels of forgiveness, and confidence in their new coping mechanisms.
  • A significant decrease in PTSD symptom severity including: 40% of the individuals no longer met the criteria for PTSD, an overall 34% decrease in PTSD symptom severity, half the participants showed improvement of between 30-50% and 24 of the 30 participants had a drop in score of between 10-20 points (out of a total of 80) which is a clinically significant change.

Now that being said, like any studies, there are study weaknesses including a small sample size, no randomization or control group, no long term follow up and the lack of formal psychiatric diagnosis prior to participation. The authors acknowledge these and state the need for further and more thorough examination of both interventions as singular and combined approaches.