Is EFT for PTSD as Effective When Delivered over the Telephone as it is When Delivered In-Person?
Citation: Hartung, J. & Stein, P. (2012). Telephone delivery of EFT (emotional freedom techniques) remediates PTSD symptoms in veterans. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 4(1), 3:3-40. Click here to view Abstract http://goo.gl/hoJdZH
Telephone-mediated psychotherapy is a resource for persons who have difficulty accessing office visits because of geography, economic restrictions, or fear of stigma.
In the present report, phone-delivered Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) was compared with EFT provided in a therapy office while subjects in both conditions also received concurrent standard care. Forty-nine veterans with clinical PTSD symptoms were treated with 6 one-hr sessions, either in an EFT coach’s office (n = 25) or by phone (n = 24).
In each condition, some subjects were treated immediately, whereas others received delayed treatment after a 1-month waiting period. No change in PTSD symptom levels was reported by either the phone or office delayed-treatment group following the wait period, whereas both groups improved significantly after EFT treatment.
Differences in benefit were found between phone and office delivery methods. Significant improvement in PTSD symptoms was found after 6 phone sessions but after only 3 office sessions. A 6-month post-treatment assessment indicated 91% of subjects treated in the office and 67% of those treated by phone no longer met PTSD diagnostic criteria (p < .05).
Results suggest that although less efficacious than in-person office visits, EFT delivered via telephone is effective in remediating PTSD and comorbid symptoms in about two thirds of cases.
This study is important because of the fact that is my personal observation that a significant percentage of tapping is delivered not “in-person’, but via telephone and internet/Skype delivery systems and needs to be compared for effectiveness to “in-person” sessions. This study compared EFT in a therapy office (25 individuals) with phone-delivered EFT (24 participant subjects), while both groups continued to receive concurrent standard care. The participants included 49 veterans with clinical PTSD symptoms who all received 6 one-hour EFT sessions over the course of one month. Some received immediate treatment, others were in a wait list group. The results showed no improvement while simply “waiting” while both groups (in office and via telephone) improved significantly. The interesting comparison between the 2 groups was that significant results (via SUD, PCL-M and SA-45 subjective measurements) were achieved after 3 session in person and after 6 sessions via telephone.
Both methods of EFT delivery showed significant results being maintained after 6 months, though 91% of in-office subjects no longer met their previously evaluated clinical PTSD symptoms, and 67% of those treated by phone achieved that result.
This study therefore finds that EFT can be an effective method for reducing PTSD symptoms, though showing a higher percentage of initial and follow-up results achieved when EFT is delivered in-person vs. via telephone. That being said, given that veteran populations who seek and complete treatment has been shown to be very low, the possibility of providing this intervention in a manner that lowers the burden of difficulty with this significant population is worth exploring further.