Frontiers In Psychology published a systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrating that EFT is an effective treatment for PTSD. The study, Emotional freedom techniques for treating post traumatic stress disorder: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis, showed that Clinical EFT produces a greater symptom reduction than no-treatment or “treatment as usual” studies. Furthermore, EFT produces symptom reduction similar to that of other evidence-based approaches. Finally, studies using EFT to treat PTSD have large treatment effects. We tip our hats to Peta Stapleton, Kevin Kip, Dawson Church, and the whole team for their efforts in showing that EFT is an effective treatment for PTSD.

The theory

The researchers wanted to update the literature on using EFT to treat PTSD. They noted that while cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and empirically validated approach to treating PTSD, it does not work in as many as 50% of cases. Moreover, a review of 36 studies found two-thirds of military personnel still met diagnostic criteria for PTSD after cognitive reprocessing or prolonged exposure therapy. Meanwhile, although medications such as SSRIs can be effective at reducing symptoms, relapse is common at cessation of treatment.

Against this backdrop of treatment options, researchers note that as many as 30% of combat veterans will experience PTSD, and nearly 7% of Americans will experience PTSD in their lifetimes. Indeed, PTSD is an accelerating mental health condition worldwide. Finding effective strategies to treat it is important.

The researchers also dug a little deeper into the research on acupuncture, since acupoint stimulation is a key component in EFT. Their investigation covered an 11-year period and found 13,000 studies and 2,500 reviews. Of 122 medical and mental-health conditions studied, acupuncture was effective in treating 117. And, importantly, the previous meta-analysis on EFT for PTSD found a large treatment effect size.

The study setup

For the current review and meta-analysis, researchers combed through ten databases to find randomized controlled trials and quantitative reviews on EFT for PTSD. Six studies met inclusion criteria.

Study results: EFT is an effective treatment for PTSD

Clinical EFT, when compared to no-treatment, waitlist, or treatment-as-usual controls, produced significant and large effect sizes ranging from 1.38 to 2.51. When compared to active controls such as CBT and EMDR, effect sizes ranged from -0.15 to 0.79. These treatment results are similar to other evidence-based therapies.


Therapies such as EMDR and EFT, incorporating a somatic component, have not been widely accepted in clinical settings. Talk therapies have been around for much longer and therefore have many more studies to back them up. Nonetheless, EFT and EMDR have been supported by more than 100 clinical studies each, and the research base is growing. The studies show that these are effective treatments for PTSD, anxiety and depression, with results maintained at follow-up.

Why this study matters

This study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting EFT for treating PTSD. Importantly, Frontiers is a Q1 journal, the highest rank of professional journals as measured by criterion impact factor. Criterion impact factor measures how often articles published in a journal are cited by other authors. Publication in a top-notch journal like this is a win for EFT research!

Action plan

Want to learn more about EFT while earning continuing education credits? Sign up for certification in EFT.  Do you like research? Stay up to date with the research on energy psychology here. Want to be involved in energy psychology research? You can participate in ACEP’s collaboration with Peta Stapleton. Learn more here.