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RCT: Psychological Trauma in Veterans using EFT (old)
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Psychological Trauma in Veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A Randomized Controlled Trial

 

Dawson Church, PhD[1] Crystal Hawk, MEd,[2] Audrey Books, PhD,[3] Oliver Toukolehto,[4] Maria Wren, LCSW,[5] Ingrid Dinter,[6] Phyllis Stein, PhD[7]. These data were presented at the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Seattle, Washington, April 7-10, 2010. In peer review.

Abstract

This study examined the effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a brief exposure therapy combining cognitive and somatic elements, on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological distress symptoms in military veterans receiving mental health services. Veterans meeting the clinical criteria for PTSD were randomized to EFT (n = 30) or wait-list (n = 29; WL). The EFT intervention consisted of six hour-long EFT coaching sessions concurrent with standard care.  PTSD was assessed using the PTSD Checklist-Military (PCL-M). Psychological distress was measured using the Symptom Assessment 45 (SA-45), which has 2 global scales and 9 subscales for conditions such as anxiety and depression. The WL and EFT groups were compared pre- and posttest (at 1 month for the WL group, after 6 sessions for EFT group). EFT participants had significantly less psychological distress on the global and on all but one of subscales on the SA-45 (p<0.0002) and the PTSD total score (p<0.0001) at posttest.  90% of the EFT group no longer met PTSD clinical criteria vs. 4% in the WL. Following the wait-period, WL participants received the EFT intervention. In a within-subjects longitudinal analysis, 60% no longer met PTSD clinical criteria after 3 sessions. This increased to 86% after 6 sessions, and remained at 86% on 3-month follow-up. Statistically significant decreases in psychological distress and PTSD total scores were present after 6 sessions (p<0.0001), and remained stable at follow-up. The results are consistent with other published reports showing EFTs efficacy at treating PTSD and co-morbid symptoms, and its long-term effects.

Keywords: veterans, PTSD, exposure therapy, trauma, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

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