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Psychological Trauma Symptom Improvement in Veterans Using Emotional Freedom Techniques: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Church, Dawson PhD*; Hawk, Crystal MEd; Brooks, Audrey J. PhD; Toukolehto, Olli MD§; Wren, Maria LCSW; Dinter,, Ingrid; Stein, Phyllis PhD#

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: February 2013 - Volume 201 - Issue 2 - p 153–160
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827f6351
Original Articles

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 1 month 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.

*Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine, Santa Rosa, CA; †Therapeutic Touch Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; ‡Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; §Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD; ∥Veterans Administration, Newington Campus, CT; ¶Healing Now, Hopkinton, NH; and #Washington University School of Medicine, Pullman, WA.

These data were presented at the Armed Forces Public Health Conference, Hampton Roads, Virginia, March 25, 2011, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, Washington, April 7 to 10, 2010.

Send reprint requests to Audrey J. Brooks, PhD, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 245153, Tucson, AZ 85724. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.