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Single Session Reduction of the Intensity of Traumatic Memories in Abused Adolescents after EFT: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study; Church et al

Working with Abused Adolescents; Single Sessions of EFT Demonstrates Decreased Intrusive Memories and Avoidance Symptoms

Citation: Church, D., Piña, O., Reategui, C., & Brooks, A. (2011). Single session reduction of the intensity of traumatic memories in abused adolescents after EFT: A randomized controlled pilot study. Traumatology. doi:10.1177/1534765611426788 Click here to view Abstract


The population for this study was drawn from an institution to which juveniles are sent by court order if they are found by a judge to be physically or psychologically abused at home. Sixteen males, aged 12-17, were randomized into two groups. They were assessed using subjective distress (SUD), and the Impact of Events Scale (IES), which measures two components of PTSD: intrusive memories and avoidance symptoms.

The experimental group was treated with a single session of EFT (emotional freedom techniques), a brief and novel exposure therapy that has been found efficacious in reducing PTSD and co-occurring psychological symptoms in adults, but has not been subject to empirical assessment in juveniles. The wait list control group received no treatment. Thirty days later, participants were reassessed. No improvement occurred in the wait list (IES total mean pre = 32 SD ±4.82, post = 31 SD ±3.84). Posttest scores for all experimental-group participants improved to the point where all were nonclinical on the total score, as well as the intrusive and avoidant symptom subscales, and SUD (IES total mean pre = 36 SD ±4.74, post = 3 SD ±2.60, p < .001). These results are consistent with those found in adults, and indicates the utility of single-session EFT as a fast and effective intervention for reducing psychological trauma in juveniles.

Editor’s Note

This paper from the journal, Traumatology, is the first to explore a population which desperately needs effective ways to deal with and cope with stress and trauma; adolescents who have been physically and psychologically/emotionally traumatized at home. In this study, a single EFT session was provided to the active treatment group while the other randomized control group was waitlisted without EFT intervention. While the wait list group reported no significant changes in their subjective measurement scores, the EFT group, 30 days later were re assessed and the after test scores revealed that 100% of those who received EFT were “nonclinical on the total score as well as the intrusive and avoidant symptom subscales and SUDs.” Given the significance of the results of this study, and with the intervention being only a single EFT session, I again hope to see this study validated by a replication study.