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? 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)
  • one avoidance symptom (staying away from people or places connected to the event)
  • two arousal and reactivity symptoms (insomnia, sudden anger, or startling easily)
  • 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 in the control group then received 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, 80% of the 49 participants remaining in both groups treated with EFT therapy, continued to remain below the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

This was a very significant study, given that most of the vets healed in a short period of time with little relapse. But could they repeat the results? The authors of a second study replicated the first to establish 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 certified EFT practitioners 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 injury from an explosion, seeing 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 the intensity of distress.

The results?

After 6 EFT sessions, scores significantly reduced in all areas compared to pre-treatment.

These score reductions held strong 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, but 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.

You can even hear from some of the vets in this study in this video:

A Kinder 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 typically must 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! If you’d like to try some tapping meditations specifically designed for veterans and active military personnel, then I highly encourage you to check out The Tapping Solution App on your mobile device.

Until next time,

Keep Tapping!


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4 Comments on this post

  1. Heidi Behr, LCSW says:

    Thanks for posting this Nick. I’ve been using Tapping with my client population for years- and have seen it help work wonders with those who have been diagnosed with PTSD. I have also taught this to veterans on Wounded Warriors Project Odyssey retreats and the feedback from them is great– everyone being surprised at how quickly they felt better after a tapping session and remarking on their better sleep, decreased pain and feelings of increased hopefulness. I wish this technique was offered at each VA and on every retreat for veterans. Maybe someday it will be!

  2. Kristen says:

    This is a little off-putting … many more women suffer PTSD from sexual assault/domestic abuse than there are combat soldiers. So the choice to highlight PTSD using combat as the only example is pretty odd (pics are all men, combat is mostly male, so that’s the gender focus you have chosen). I may have missed your intro webpage — if your services are intended only for men, I guess my comment is misplaced. No crip olympics here. Everybody suffers, men and women. But trauma isn’t gender specific, and that seems a little lost here. Maybe just change the title to Combat-Related PTSD, otherwise it seems an intentional oversight.

    • Nick Ortner says:

      I completely understand your point of view, Kristen. Thanks for sharing. This particular blog post was designed to center around 2 case studies particularly related to war veterans. Of course, there are many forms of PTSD affecting both men and women, and EFT has been proven to be one of the best techniques for releasing those traumas. 🙂

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