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EFT Research Paper

Efficacy of EFT Provided by Coaches vs Licensed Therapists in Veterans with PTSD

Citation: Stein, P., & Brooks, A. Efficacy of EFT Provided by Coaches vs. Licensed Therapists in Veterans with PTSD. (2011). Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3(1). Click here to view Abstract http://goo.gl/Sy12W1


Background: EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a validated method for treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may be performed by both lay coaches and licensed mental health practitioners (LMP). It has not been known whether results would differ significantly when EFT is administered by LMPs compared with by trained lay coaches.

Method: A sample of 149 veterans with PTSD were approached to participate in the study; 59 were eligible and consented to participate. They were randomized to an active treatment (EFT, n = 30) and a wait list (WL, n = 29) control group and received treatment from either an LMP (n = 26) or a coach (n = 33). PTSD was assessed with the PTSD Checklist–Military (PCL-M), and psychological symptoms were assessed with the Symptom Assessment-45.

All study participants met diagnostic criteria for PTSD on the PCL-M. Participants received 6 sessions of EFT over the course of a month. Questionnaires were repeated after 3 and 6 EFT sessions and again at 3 and 6 months post-treatment. The WL group was assessed at intake and 1 month before beginning EFT sessions.

Results: Results are based on post-intervention data from the combined EFT and WL groups. Significant declines in the percentage meeting PTSD diagnostic criteria were seen after 3 sessions of EFT, with 47% of coach and 30% of LMP participants still meeting PTSD diagnostic criteria. Improvements continued to be seen after 6 sessions (17% coach, 10% LMP) and were sustained at 3 months (17% coach, 11% LMP). Although the percentage meeting clinical PTSD criteria increased slightly at 6 months (24% coach, 17% LMP), the overwhelming majority of veterans with PTSD treated with EFT remained free of clinically defined PTSD. The trend for better outcomes for LMP did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion: 6 sessions of EFT whether administered by a coach or an LMP is efficacious in treating PTSD among veterans, suggesting that EFT provided by lay coaches would be an effective strategy to address PTSD in this population.

Editor’s Note

Given the probability that a majority of those practicing EFT are EFT coach/practitioners and not licensed mental health care providers, this study set out to compare head to head results for these two groups when working with a group of 59 veterans with PTSD (as assessed by the PCL-M checklist). This is the only study I am aware of directly comparing these two provider subgroups with this population.

After only 3 sessions with the EFT coach, 53% were no longer meeting the PTSD criteria and 70% reaching the same status for licensed providers.

Immediately after 6 sessions, 83% coach-delivered EFT and 90% mental health care provider delivered EFT reached non PTSD status) and whose improvements essentially remained the same even 3 months later. Six months later there was some reversal with a final tally of 83% and 89% of the veterans remain below the PTSD criteria. Full study unavailable for review by this author.