A Tale of Two Trials – Tapping Research for PTSD

Written by: Nick Ortner

Thousands of veterans are diagnosed with PTSD every year. Is there a cure? The results of these two clinical trials say there is!

Imagine walking down the street with your family.

Your partner and kids run up ahead to buy some candy. And then a bomb explodes in the candy shop.

No survivors.

Veterans who return home from combat have lived through these types of experiences, along with many others, over prolonged periods of time – and they are as traumatizing as the above scenario.

Needless to say, many of these men and women come back from war wounded from that trauma.

What Exactly Is PTSD?

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it is the emotional fallout from deeply traumatizing experiences.

The National Institute of Mental Health says that to be diagnosed by a physician, a patient must have all of the following:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom (flashbacks or bad dreams)
  • At least one avoidance symptom (staying away from people or places connected to the event)
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (insomnia, sudden anger, or being easily startled)
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms (feeling guilty, carrying a negative self image, or not being able to enjoy life)

In 2015, a JAMA Psychiatry study confirmed that over 200,000 Vietnam War veterans still have PTSD.

And with the number of deployed troops around the globe continuing to rise, it’s clear that an effective treatment is necessary for the sake of both the individuals involved and our society as a whole.

A Study Gives Hope

Researchers have conducted many studies about the effectiveness of EFT on a variety of problems. One very compelling study was facilitated by my friend Dawson Church.

He and his colleagues found that the Emotional Freedom Technique effectively treated 30 veterans diagnosed with PTSD to the point where after treatment, 90% of the participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria, as compared to only 4% of the control group.

At the end of the study, the 29 individuals who were in the control group were then treated with EFT. After just three sessions, 60% of them no longer met the criteria for PTSD. This increased to 86% after three more treatments.

At six months, of the 49 participants remaining in both groups who had been treated with EFT therapy, 80% of them continued to remain below the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

This was a very significant study, given that most of the vets were healed in a very short period of time with very little relapse.

But could the results be repeated?

The authors of a second study, which replicated the first, noted how important replication is in establishing a scientific body of knowledge.

Second Time Around: EFT for PTSD

Researchers in a second study recruited 58 veterans who again met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

In the control group, 26 received “treatment as usual” and the other 32 received six one-hour EFT Tapping sessions. All 13 of the practitioners who conducted the sessions were certified in EFT and were instructed to use only EFT in their therapy.

For the EFT group, researchers asked patients to make a list of the traumatic events they had experienced for use in their Tapping therapy. Examples included being injured in an explosion, watching friends or colleagues die, or killing an enemy.

Using the less intense events first, the participants were guided to use Tapping, including their thoughts and bodily sensations, which are key components to the Tapping process.

After gaining trust and confidence in the process, the vets were also encouraged to use EFT between sessions to reduce intensity of distress.

The results?

After 6 EFT sessions, there was a significant reduction in all scores compared to scores at pre-treatment.

These score reductions were also maintained at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups, just like the first study.

The researchers found that these results replicated the first study, concluding that “EFT is an evidence-based practice that is highly effective at reducing symptom severity in veterans with PTSD.”

“EFT is an evidence-based practice that is highly effective at reducing symptom severity in veterans with PTSD.”

Not only did this replicated study have the same findings as the first, it was also consistent with a meta-analysis (where researchers look at and analyze many studies on the same topic) that found EFT an effective treatment for PTSD in very short periods of time, and with only 4-6 treatment sessions.

A Kinder, Gentler PTSD Treatment

Tapping therapy is gaining much momentum, especially with complex hard-to-treat issues such as PTSD. It’s also a much softer approach than some of the traditional go-to methods, like exposure therapy.

In other treatment modalities, PTSD patients are typically asked to remember the traumatizing event in detail, or even go to the places where the event occurred. This can be extremely difficult for patients, and the therapist has to be extremely careful not to re-traumatize their client.

Because clients who use Tapping therapy create their own lists of events, EFT practitioners can gradually ease into the more difficult memories while tapping. Tapping on the acupressure points actually triggers the body’s natural relaxation processes.

I’ve done lots of work with trauma sufferers, both personally and through The Tapping Solution Foundation, and I’ve seen how POWERFUL and LASTING Tapping can be!

It is truly amazing and almost miraculous, at times. And it’s not JUST for veterans. Everyday people from all walks of life experience traumatic events of all levels.

I highly encourage you to try Tapping! You CAN heal!

Until next time,

Keep Tapping!


Do you know someone who could benefit from EFT Tapping therapy? Comment below, and please SHARE this blog with them! 🙂

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