Church, D., Sparks, T., & Clond, M. (2016). EFT (emotional freedom techniques) and resiliency in veterans at risk for PTSD: A randomized controlled trial. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 12(5), 355-365.
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Prior research indicates elevated but subclinical posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms as a risk factor for a later diagnosis of PTSD. This study examined the progression of symptoms in 21 subclinical veterans. Participants were randomized into a treatment as usual (TAU) wait-list group and an experimental group, which received TAU plus six sessions of clinical emotional freedom techniques (EFT). Symptoms were assessed using the PCL-M (Posttraumatic Checklist—Military) on which a score of 35 or higher indicates increased risk for PTSD. The mean pretreatment score of participants was 39 ± 8.7, with no significant difference between groups.
No change was found in the TAU group during the wait period. Afterward, the TAU group received an identical clinical EFT protocol. Posttreatment groups were combined for analysis. Scores declined to a mean of 25 (−64%, P < .0001). Participants maintained their gains, with mean three-month and six-month follow-up PCL-M scores of 27 (P < .0001). Similar reductions were noted in the depth and breadth of psychological conditions such as anxiety. A Cohenʼs d = 1.99 indicates a large treatment effect. Reductions in traumatic brain injury symptoms (P = .045) and insomnia (P = .004) were also noted. Symptom improvements were similar to those assessed in studies of PTSD-positive veterans. EFT may thus be protective against an increase in symptoms and a later PTSD diagnosis. As a simple and quickly learned self-help method, EFT may be a clinically useful element of a resiliency program for veterans and active-duty warriors.