EFT Hearings in Congress
by Dawson Church, PhD
SANTA ROSA, CA. One of the most exciting developments for EFT in recent months has been the interest shown by various members of Congress. Both Republican and Democrat members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have used their influence to help get EFT recognized by the officials responsible for mental health in various government agencies.
The most recent such event was a roundtable hearing called by Representative Dan Lungren (R, California 3rd District). Dan Lungren is a former Attorney General of California, and serves on several influential committees including the House Homeland Security Committee.
Dan called a hearing for September 15th to showcase the use of EFT for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dan’s Legislative Analyst, Sandra Wiseman, has been passionate in her advocacy of energy medicine in general, and EFT in particular, and put a great deal of time and enthusiasm into organizing the event. Letters went out from Dan’s office to key mental health officials inviting them to be present or to send a representative. These officials included the honorable Eric Shinseki, Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs, and Col Robert Saum, commanding officer of the Defense Center for Excellence in Mental Health (DCoE). In an earlier report, you saw a photo of me with General Loree Sutton, former commanding officer of the DCoE. Col Saum has recently replaced Gen Sutton. In an historic event, I was invited to testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on July 20th, when committee chairman Bob Filner (D-San Diego) called a roundtable hearing on “Innovative Treatments for PTSD and TBI.” I spoke on behalf of EFT along with clinical psychologist David Feinstein (author of Personal Mythology and other books) and fiduciary Wayne Miller. This was the first time energy medicine has had a voice in congressional testimony.
Dan’s office also requested observers from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Standards Administration (SAMHSA).
Organizing the hearing was difficult. Congress only came back into session September 13th, and staffers had a backlog of business on their over-full plates. Congressional elections were less than six weeks away. Poll numbers indicated that Republicans were likely to win control of the House of Representatives. The looming elections were dominating everyone’s attention; if the Republicans won the house, they would take over all the Committees; Bob Filner would lose his chairmanship of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Dan himself was in a tight race; it was uncertain if he would be re-elected. In two months, Dan and Sandra might be looking for jobs.
I had committed a year ago to teach EFT workshops in France starting Sep 18th, so between my schedule and the electoral calendar, Wednesday Sep 15th was the only possible window when hearings could occur.
Between finding a location in which to hold the hearings, to getting approval from the congressman of the text of the invitation letters, the invitations were sent only two weeks before the hearings. The initial responses were not positive. Shinseki’s office sent a response to a previous letter stating that EFT was not on the list of approved therapies at the VA and no circumstances were possible in which his department could contemplate using it. Some agencies declined to send observers. Staffers from other congressional offices could not attend because of the many other demands on their time. I phoned Sandra the weekend before, and she was frustrated at the lack of response. It seemed as though we might be presenting EFT to an empty room. Yet after the phone call, with my mind full of the recent setbacks, a little intuitive voice whispered, “Wednesday Miracle. Expect a Wednesday Miracle.” I phoned Sandra again and told her to expect a Wednesday Miracle, while another little voice in my head, the Eternal Skeptic, sneered at me, saying, “You’re telling people to expect a miracle, and you have no idea what you’re talking about!”
Against this far-from-optimal backdrop, with the craziness in Washington DC even more crazy than usual, the hearings were held. Sandra made a last-minute push, and when the hearing opened, there were about 35 representatives of various agencies and congressional offices present. We assembled a great team to represent EFT. Wayne Miller spoke about the rise of energy medicine, and its financial implications. Two veterans talked about their experiences: John Dolan, who led a rifle company in Vietnam, and “Jim,” a veteran who phoned in but remained anonymous, worried about losing his PTSD benefits. Olli Toukolehto, who is about to graduate from medical school, spoke about his time in Iraq, and recovering from PTSD with EFT. Two private therapists spoke, Anita Bains, and Tracey Middleton, plus Cathy Angelica, a case manager who works at a Veterans Administration hospital. Delores Hall, the mother of veteran Carlin Sloan, told her moving story of how hopeless Carlin’s PTSD symptoms seemed until they found EFT. Carlin wrote a powerful letter which was distributed to everyone at the hearing, along with EFT research.
After the EFT presentation, Col. Charles Engle from the Defense Center of Excellence in PTSD and TBI (DCoE) stood up and spoke at length. Col Engle is one of the top researchers in the PTSD field, with many papers published in peer-reviewed journals to his credit, and an expert in research design. He talked about the challenges DCoE faces, and some of the key findings that recent PTSD research has illuminated. He and I had an excellent exchange about ways in which EFT could be incorporated into some of the research projects that DCoE is planning, and after the hearing ended, we continued a warm and passionate dialog on the ways in which EFT could help reduce PTSD symptoms in veterans. Anita, Cathy, and Tracey emphasized to him how it would help troops deal with their symptoms immediately after traumatic experiences, and Delores said teaching EFT in basic training would improve warrior resiliency skills. Col Engle soaked up the research data eagerly. I promised him a copy of EFT for PTSD.
He invited us to visit DCoE as his guests, and it’s likely that Tracey, Anita, and Sandra, and perhaps the congressman too, who all live close by, will set up a time to tour his facility and learn more about how to interface with Col Engle’s work. It might also be possible to demonstrate EFT with some of his troops, since he supervises both the research and treatment branches of the mental health service. The Wednesday Miracle!
The ripples from the hearing might spread out further, as representatives from other agencies speak to their colleagues about EFT. Before the July 20th hearing, energy medicine had no place at the table at the level of national debate. Now, awareness is spreading, slowly and imperceptibly, that there might be a solution to this huge problem of PTSD. The irony is that the Veterans Administration (VA) is a massive healthcare system serving hundreds of thousands of patients with PTSD, but has no EFT. The Iraq Vets Stress Project (www.StressSolution.org) has over 100 coaches and therapists trained in EFT, but few veterans. The sufferers are in one bucket, the cure in another bucket, with no pipe connecting the two buckets. While the VA receives billions of dollars each year in federal funding, the Stress Solution project consists of volunteers, with the few dollars in hard costs funded by private donations from the EFT community. The money is in one bucket, and the cure in another, again with no pipe connecting the two buckets. This has to change.
Since the VA is the place where veterans go for treatment, my vision is that it will become a primary site for the delivery of EFT. Imagine if the VA, now struggling with the burden of 300,000 new veterans with PTSD, in addition to the Vietnam generation, caught fire with the possibility of stamping out PTSD. For a massive and slow-moving bureaucracy, not built for change, that might sound like wishful thinking. Yet public health officials of the past generations moved mountains when cures for various diseases were put in their hands. Typhoid fever was eradicated by dedicated public employees a century ago, once its causes and cures were discovered. The same occurred for cholera, polio, and smallpox. Once a vision exists for the eradication of a plague, and the tools are put in the hands of practical people, solutions that were unimaginable before, like a cure for PTSD, become conceivable. The impossible becomes the inevitable.
I believe we are moving through just such a time in the treatment of PTSD, and that in just a year, the whole picture will have changed. By this time in 2011, thousands of VA clinicians might have been trained in EFT, and tens of thousands of veterans and warriors treated with EFT. The VA might have a timetable of less than a year before it has offered EFT to every single veteran suffering from PTSD. Just a thousand full time clinicians can provide six hour-long sessions of EFT (the minimum number we’ve found it takes) to every one of those 300,000 veterans in only a single year. Such a treatment plan would also cost only 1/3 of the $584 million congress has already spent on PTSD research in the last three years. It is thus an achievable and affordable goal, and one which would restore the possibility of normal lives to hundreds of thousands of sufferers who, right now, have no prospect of such a bright future.
This would reduce the suffering not just of the veterans themselves, but of the spouses, children, and communities affected by “transferred PTSD,” the impact of living with a suffering veteran. Recovered veterans might themselves begin to learn EFT, and teach it to other veterans. EFT could be spreading like wildfire among the veteran community.
Please imagine with me a 2012 in which the impossible has become the historical, and we are together looking back at the plague of PTSD as a phenomenon of the unenlightened past. Such visions become frameworks around which reality can organize itself, shaping the events of the present in ways that invite them to conform to the brightest possibilities of the future.
Please also share this vision of PTSD as history with anyone you believe is in a position to help make it happen. If you live in the US, you might speak to a businessman, trust, family member, or foundation with the funds to hire the core staff to expand the Iraq Vets Stress Project into an organization with much greater reach. That would put cash into the bucket containing the cure. You might contact a local veterans organization, and present EFT to them. You might talk to a spouse or officer you know, who can urge the VA to use EFT. You might volunteer to treat vets for free yourself. If we sow seeds together, we can create great change. As Margaret Mead famously observed, “Never think that a small group of committed people cannot change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has!”
Book: EFT for PTSD on Amazon
Online self-help course: Energy, Trauma and Healing
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.
Libretto, S., Hilton, L., Gordon, S., Zhang, W., & Wesch, J. (2015). Effects of integrative PTSD treatment in a military health setting. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 7(2), 33-44. doi:10.9769/EPJ.2015.11.1.SL
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
Geronilla, L., Minewiser L., Mollon, P., McWilliams, M., & Clond, M. (2016). EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) remediates PTSD and psychological symptoms in veterans: A randomized controlled replication trial. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 8(2), 29—41.
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.
For more information visit the EFT Research Bibliography.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Dawson Church, please email us.