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Emotional Freedom Techniques to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans: Review of the evidence, survey of practitioners, and proposed clinical guidelines

Citation (APA Style): Church, D., Stern, S., Boath, E., Stewart, A., Feinstein, D., & Clond, M. (2017). Emotional Freedom Techniques to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans: Review of the evidence, survey of practitioners, and proposed clinical guidelines. Permanente Journal, 21(2), 16-23. doi: 10.7812/TPP/16-100

Permanente CoverAbstract

Background: High prevalence rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in active military and veterans present a treatment challenge. Many PTSD studies have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).

Objectives: To develop clinical best practice guidelines for the use of EFT to treat PTSD, on the basis of the published literature, practitioner experience, and typical case histories.

Methods: We surveyed 448 EFT practitioners to gather information on their experiences with PTSD treatment. This included their demographic profiles, prior training, professional settings, use of assessments, and PTSD treatment practices. We used their responses, with the research evidence base, to formulate clinical guidelines applying the "stepped care" treatment model used by the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Results: Most practitioners (63%) reported that even complex PTSD can be remediated in 10 or fewer EFT sessions. Some 65% of practitioners found that more than 60% of PTSD clients are fully rehabilitated, and 89% stated that less than 10% of clients make little or no progress. Practitioners combined EFT with a wide variety of other approaches, especially cognitive therapy. Practitioner responses, evidence from the literature, and the results of a meta-analysis were aggregated into a proposed clinical guideline.

Conclusion: We recommend a stepped care model, with 5 EFT therapy sessions for subclinical PTSD and 10 sessions for clinical PTSD, in addition to group therapy, online self-help resources, and social support. Clients who fail to respond should be referred for appropriate further care.

Keywords: Emotional Freedom Techniques, EFT, posttraumatic stress disorder, trauma, PTSD, veterans

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