A treatment for PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) that uses no drugs, has no side effects, and really works―does that sound too good to be true? Research shows that such a treatment does indeed exist. EFT, the emotional freedom techniques, can resolve PTSD symptoms in as little as five sessions. Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest hospital systems in the US, just published clinical guidelines for using EFT to treat PTSD. The guidelines were created by Dawson Church and colleagues, after reviewing the literature and surveying 448 practitioners to see how clinicians are getting results. Their recommendation: five to ten sessions of EFT for people with PTSD. EFT works for PTSD. I use it in my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr.
PTSD: military, accidents, and beyond
We often think of war veterans when we think of PTSD, as well we should: the VA estimates, conservatively, that between 11% and 20% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD (other sources put the rate at closer to 30%). The rates are even higher among Vietnam War veterans, with nearly a third suffering from PTSD. But PTSD is not just a problem for the military. Indeed, it can affect people who have been in any traumatic situation: those who have been in serious accidents, victims of violent crimes, or diagnosed with life-threatening diseases can develop PTSD; the death of a loved one can cause PTSD-like symptoms.
Nearly 8 of every 100 Americans are likely to experience PTSD during their lifetimes. Most people will go back to normal after a traumatic event, but some will develop symptoms that last more than a month (subclinical PTSD) or three months (clinical PTSD) and that interfere with their lives. The symptoms involve avoiding or “numbing out”; re-experiencing, often with nightmares or flashbacks; and some type of hyper-arousal, like being easily startled, on edge, having trouble sleeping, even having angry outbursts.
Treating the “un-treatable”
After World War II, people used the term “shell shocked” to describe the symptoms of PTSD. For decades, it was believed that veterans could not recover from PTSD. More recently, researchers have been looking for ways to resolve the previously “unresolvable”. Pharmaceuticals have not been an effective solution. In a creative move, the US government invested millions of dollars in a virtual reality technology to help veterans with PTSD. But that program is only available to some veterans, and is very costly and hard to replicate. EFT is effective, safe, has no side effects, all for the price of a therapy session ― except for veterans, who can get services for free through The Veterans Stress Project.