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Psychological Trauma Symptom Improvement in Veterans Using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

Study Demonstrates 86% Decrease in PTSD Symptoms Improvement in Veterans with Stable Follow-up at 3 Months (86% Reduction) and 6 Months (80% Reduction)

Citation: Church, D., Hawk, C, Brooks, A., Toukolehto, O., Wren, M., Dinter, I., Stein, P. (2013). Psychological trauma symptom improvement in veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 201(2) 153–160. Click here to view Abstract


This study examined the effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a brief exposure therapy combining cognitive and somatic elements, on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological distress symptoms in veterans receiving mental health services. Veterans meeting the clinical criteria for PTSD were randomized to EFT (n = 30) or standard of care wait list (SOC/WL; n = 29). The EFT intervention consisted of 6-hour-long EFT coaching sessions concurrent with standard care. The SOC/WL and EFT groups were compared before and after the intervention (at 1month for the SOC/WL group and after six sessions for the EFT group). The EFT subjects had significantly reduced psychological distress (p < 0.0012) and PTSD symptom levels (p < 0.0001) after the test. In addition, 90% of the EFT group no longer met PTSD clinical criteria, compared with 4% in the SOC/WL group. After the wait period, the SOC/WL subjects received EFT. In a within-subjects longitudinal analysis, 60% no longer met the PTSD clinical criteria after three sessions. This increased to 86% after six sessions for the 49 subjects who ultimately received EFT and remained at 86% at 3 months and at 80% at 6 months. The results are consistent with that of other published reports showing EFT’s efficacy in treating PTSD and comorbid symptoms and its long-term effects.

Editor’s Note

This study is particularly important given the scholarly and well regarded reputation of the publication, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease which accepted and published this paper. In this study, as in several previous, veterans who met the clinical criteria for PTSD were divided into active treatment, with EFT, and a wait list comparison group. Standardized mental health care continued to be provided with the addition of six one hour long EFT sessions. The results were outstanding and statistically significant with 90% of the EFT group no longer meeting the clinical criteria for PTSD compared to the 4% “standard of care wait listed” group reaching the same status. The “standard of care wait listed” then received the identical EFT treatment and showed that 60% of those who eventually received EFT no longer met the PTSD criteria after only 3 visits. By the end of their 6 session intervention, that number increased to 86% (49 veterans). Not only that, but when measured 3 months later that 86% number remained and reduced only down to 80% 6 months post intervention.

These numbers, put in perspective are phenomenal achievements given previously reported studies on a wide array of interventions working with veterans and PTSD. I believe this to be one of the most significant studies published on the potential impact that EFT can have on this population and diagnosis. This study will surely need to be duplicated to forge its believablity for many skeptics.