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Efficacy of EFT provided by coaches vs. licensed therapists in veterans with PTSD

Citation (APA Style): Stein, P. K., & Brooks, A. J. (2011). Efficacy of EFT provided by coaches vs. licensed therapists in veterans with PTSD. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3(1), 11-18.

Abstract

Background: EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a validated method for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), available to both lay persons and to licensed mental health practitioners (LMP). It is unknown whether results would be significantly different when EFT is administered by licensed practitioners compared to trained lay coaches.

Methods: N=149 veterans with PTSD were approached and 59 were eligible and consented to the study. They were randomized to an active treatment (EFT N=30) and wait list (WL N=29) control group and received treatment from a LMP (N=26) or a coach (N=33). PTSD was assessed using the PCL-M (PTSD Checklist-Military), and psychological symptoms using the SA-45 (Symptom Assessment-45). All study participants met diagnostic criteria for PTSD on the PCL-M. Participants received 6 sessions of EFT over the course of a month. Questionnaires were repeated after 3 and 6 EFT sessions, and at 3 and 6 months. Wait list was assessed at intake and one month before beginning EFT sessions.

Results: Results are based on post-intervention data from the combined EFT and WL groups. Significant declines in the percent meeting PTSD diagnostic criteria were seen after 3 sessions of EFT with 47% of coach and 30% of LMP participants still meeting PTSD diagnostic criteria. Improvements continued to be seen after 6 sessions (17% coach, 10% LMP) and were sustained at 3 months (17% coach, 11% LMP). Although the percent meeting clinical PTSD criteria increased slightly at 6 months (24% coach, 17% LMP), the overwhelming majority of vets with PTSD treated with EFT remained free of clinically-defined PTSD. Although differences between lay coaches and LMPs in PTSD prevalence were not statistically significant, LMP participants did have significantly lower levels of psychological distress on the SA-45.

Conclusions: 6 sessions of EFT whether administered by a coach or an LMP is efficacious in treating PTSD symptoms among veterans. However, results suggest that LMPs may be more effective in reducing psychological distress. Future studies with larger samples are needed to answer this question.

Keywords: Veterans, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), Life Coaching, Psychotherapy, PTSD

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