There is a shortage of mental health resources in many parts of the world, yet people in these areas need access to quality interventions, especially after experiencing natural or human-made disasters. Suzanne Connolly and her team delved into the research to see what interventions work best in these situations, and published a meta-analysis in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Among the interventions studied, energy psychology delivered results! TFT performed well, receiving medium to high effect sizes in a shorter time with faster training than other interventions.

Study methods

All studies included in the analysis were delivered by laypeople that were trained by professionals. The studies measured a variety of mental health concerns and were published between 2000 and 2019. Of the 19 studies identified, 10 were conducted in Africa and nine in Asia. The studies covered a variety of conditions: 13 studied PTSD, three studied depression, two studied alcohol dependence, and one studied mixed depression and anxiety.

The techniques used included CBT (six studies); behavior therapy with psychoeducation (six studies); TFT (three studies); narrative exposure therapy (two studies); and interpersonal psychotherapy (two studies).
The time it took to train the lay counselors varied widely, with the shortest training taking just two days (TFT) and the longest taking one year (classroom-based CBT). Treatment duration varied widely as well. The shortest duration of treatment was in the TFT studies, which lasted one day; the longest was the classroom-based CBT, which included 15 sessions.

Study conclusions: energy psychology delivered results!

Overall, therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors had a medium effect size, suggesting that this is indeed a practical way to bring mental health treatment to areas in need.

Fourteen of the 20 studies trials found statistically significant effects; six found no effect. The TFT studies fared well: two had large effect sizes and one had a medium effect size. Indeed, energy psychology delivered results better than other therapies.

Why this study matters

There is a shortage of mental health workers in the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The problem comes into stark relief in the aftermath of natural or human-made disasters. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended enlisting community members to bridge this gap. This study shows that professionally trained members of the community can indeed provide effective mental health interventions.

A win for energy psychology

While the goal of the study was to examine the effectiveness of therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors, the data also show that TFT produces impressive results with the shortest amount of training and treatment time: just one day of treatment delivered after just two days of training.

This positions TFT well as a relatively easy to learn and implement, effective strategy to address mental health issues in lower- and middle-income countries where there is a lack of robust mental health infrastructure.

For more information

If you would like to learn TFT, you can take ACEP’s online course, taught by Suzanne Connolly herself, while earning 13 CE credits. Find out more at

Sarah Murphy is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 15 years of clinical experience. She serves as Communications Committee Chair for ACEP. In addition to her private practice, she is Staff Therapist for Unite for HER. She specializes in energy psychology, including EFT, as well as mindfulness and hypnotherapy. Send comments to