The Effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis

Explore (NY). Jan-Feb 2017;13(1):16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2016.10.001. Epub 2016 Oct 24.

Abstract

Background: Over the past two decades, growing numbers of clinicians have been utilizing emotional freedom techniques (EFT) in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown encouraging 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 investigating EFT in the treatment of PTSD. The RCTs were evaluated for quality using evidence-based standards published 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 treatment effect was found, with a weighted Cohen׳s d = 2.96 (95% CI: 1.96-3.97, P < .001) for the studies that compared EFT to usual care or a waitlist. No treatment effect differences were 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).

Conclusions: The analysis of existing studies showed that a series of 4-10 EFT sessions is an efficacious treatment for PTSD with a variety of populations. The studies examined reported no adverse effects from EFT interventions and showed that it can be used both on a self-help basis and as a primary evidence-based treatment for PTSD.

Keywords: Emotional freedom techniques; posttraumatic stress disorder; veteran.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Emotions*
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*