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Does combining Emotional Freedom Techniques and hypnosis have an effect on sexual assault”“specific posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms?

Citation (APA style): Anderson, K., Rubik, B., & Absenger, W. (2019). Does combining Emotional Freedom Techniques and hypnosis have an effect on sexual assault—specific posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms? Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 11(2), 31—49. doi:10.9769/EPJ.2019.11.2.KA


Objectives: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects approximately eight million American adults per year (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019). Nearly 70% of rape and sexual assault survivors will experience PTSD or symptoms of severe distress (U.S. Department of Justice, 2016). Sexual assault—specific PTSD has unique components due to the personal and invasive nature of the attack. Though effective for some, traditional approaches to the treatment of PTSD often fail due to the unwanted side effects of the medication, cost of treatment, and the potential for overwhelming the survivor by asking them to talk about their experience. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of a combined treatment modality of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and hypnosis on sexual assault—specific PTSD symptoms.

Design: This study utilized an explanatory sequential mixed method design.

Setting: This study was conducted in a private psychotherapy office.

Subjects: 30 individuals with self-identified sexual assault—specific PTSD were recruited and participated in this study.
Interventions: EFT and hypnosis combined.

Outcome measures: A paired samples t-test analysis between the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition]) baseline and post-intervention scores as well as an open-ended question was utilized.

Results: t(29) = 12.198, p < .001, indicating that overall the change in self-reported symptom ratings was statistically different between the two time points. The open-ended qualitative question pointed to a relationship between experience in session and PCL-5 score.

Conclusion: This study found an overall decrease of 34.3% on PTSD symptom severity based on PCL-5 assessment scores, after four sessions of the combined EFT and hypnosis treatment.

Keywords: EFT, hypnosis, PTSD, sexual assault, trauma, mind-body interventions

Click here for the abstract on the Energy Psychology journal website and access to full article