A European research team conducted a study to understand how to heal PTSD. They focused on touch-based interventions to address PTSD in adults. The study, by McGreevy and Boland, appeared in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine. The researchers concluded that touch-based interventions can help improve emotional regulation and reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Among all the interventions, however, they found that Emotional Freedom Technique got the best results and had the strongest evidence base. Again, we see the data: EFT heals PTSD.

Finding ways to heal PTSD: Beyond talk or pharmaceuticals

PTSD is a problem which affects health and functioning. There are some evidence-based interventions, including pharmaceutical and psychological approaches. However, the researchers note, these are not very effective.

Meanwhile, touch-based interventions can help people regulate their autonomic nervous system (ANS). Controlling the ANS helps downregulate the fight-flight response. Once calm, they can use the executive skills needed to process trauma in traditional talk therapy. According to Bessel van der Kolk, and quoted by the authors, learning to control the ANS may be the biggest requirement to address PTSD.

Against this backdrop, the researchers wondered what touch-based approaches are being used with PTSD and to identify key concepts that explain how touch-based interventions help.

Study Setup

The study was an integrative literature review. Of the 39 articles covering eleven different touch-based interventions reviewed, 17 used EFT and 10 used mindful awareness body therapy. The other methods, with only one or two studies each, included massage therapy, Rosen Method Bodywork, Upledger Cranio-Sacral Therapy, and Zero Balancing.

Quantitative, qualitative and conceptual data were identified on eight databases. Researchers appraised and synthesized the finding using thematic analysis strategies, the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) and the Critical Appraisal Skill Program (CASP).

Study results

All studies found clinical reduction in PTSD symptoms, though four did not achieve statistical significance. Of those, three were the mindful awareness approaches and one was light touch. EFT stood out for having the strongest evidence base.


It is significant that the authors, Susan McGreevy and Dr. Pauline Boland, are independent researchers at the Department of Clinical Therapies, University of Limerick, Ireland. They have no formal affiliation with EFT or any EFT organizations.


Touch matters. This study demonstrates that touch, indeed, can significantly decrease the symptoms of PTSD and help a variety of people overcome the effects of trauma. Of all the interventions reviewed, EFT had the strongest evidence base. More studies are needed to determine the usefulness of the other interventions.

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