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The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis

Citation (APA Style): Sebastian, B., & Nelms, J. (2016). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 13(1), 16-25. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2016.10.001


Background: Over the past two decades, growing numbers of clinicians have been utilizing Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Randomized controlled trials (RTCs) have shown promising outcomes for all three conditions.

Objective: To assess the efficacy of EFT in treating PTSD by conducting a meta-analysis of existing RCTs.

Methods: A systematic review of databases was undertaken to identify RCTs invesigating EFT in the treatment of PTSD. The RCTs were evaluated for quality using evidence-based standards provided by the American Psychological Association Division 12 Task Force on Empirically Validated Therapies. Those meeting the criteria were assessed using a meta-analysis that synthesized the data to determine effect sizes. While uncontrolled outcome studies were excluded, they were examined for clinical implications of treatment that can extend knowledge of this condition.

Results: Seven randomized controlled trials were found to meet the criteria, and were included in the meta-analysis. A large effect was found for EFT treatment of PTSD, with a weighted Cohen’s d = 2.96 (95% CI 1.96-3.97; p < 0.001). No treatment effect difference was found in studies comparing EFT to other evidence-based therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR; 1 study) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT; 1 study).

Conclusion: The results show that EFT is efficacious and reliable as a treatment for PTSD in time frames ranging from four to ten sessions. EFT is safe and can be used as a self-help practice as well as a primary evidence-based treatment for PTSD.

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