EFT in Humanitarian Crises

Overview        Crises        Organizations  
 
As EFT has been increasingly recognized for its healing efficacy, it has been utilized in situations of extreme suffering, including after conflict and natural disaster.  The potential for positive impact in this field is significant. Two salient questions have been raised regarding using EFT with crisis-traumatized populations:
  1. Is a single-session intervention (individual or group) contraindicated in working with trauma victims?
  2. Should, in fact, any psychological intervention be utilized soon after a trauma, and if so, how soon? 
Sophia Cayer, a practitioner of EFT, addressed the first of these questions shortly after having returned from working with survivors in Alabama following Hurricane Katrina: "The difference is that with EFT, even if it is only a single session, it doesn't leave the person stranded.  It is not a matter of just soothing them and then letting them go.  They are given powerful tools they can regularly use as they move through the crisis and beyond." 
 
Crises
2008 Sichuan Earthquake, China

Ninety-one PTSD patients affected by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake were randomly divided into a control group of 24 cases treated by the cognitive-behavior therapy, and a treatment group of 67 cases treated by both cognitive-behavior therapy and acupoint stimulation [EFT]. The scores were evaluated according to Chinese version of the incident effect scale revised (IES-R) and the self-compiled questionnaire for the major post-traumatic psychological condition, and the curative effect was compared between the two groups. The total scores of IES-R, the scores of all factors and the total scores of the questionnaire in the two groups after treatment were much lower than those before treatment (P<0.01). The comparison of reduction in the factor scores between the two groups showed that the curative effect in the treatment group was better that of in the control group. The acupoint stimulation [EFT] is effective for the PTSD patients, with better results than that of cognitive-behavior therapy used alone.[1] (Photo: China Earthquake Administration)

Kosovo Ethnic Cleansing
Trauma survivors in Kosovo was treated with EFT during five separate trips by members of the Global Institute of Thought Field Therapy in 2000. Clinicians from Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States were joined in Kosovo by four physicians who transported them to remote war-torn villages where patients with severe trauma, such as gang rape, torture, and forced military recruitment, were treated. Treatment was given to 105 patients with 249 separate traumas. Total relief was reported by 103 of the patients, and for 247 of the separate traumas. Follow-up data averaging five months revealed no instance of relapse.[2]
 
Rwandan Genocide
FIRST STUDY: In 2008 EFT was applied with 50 orphaned teens who had been suffering with symptoms of PTSD since the Rwandan genocide 12 years earlier. Following a single session, scores on a PTSD checklist completed by caretakers and on a self-rated PTSD checklist had significantly decreased (p < .0001 on both measures). The number of participants exceeding the PTSD cutoffs decreased from 100% to 6% on the caregiver ratings and from 72% to 18% on the self-ratings. The findings were corroborated by informal interviews with the adolescents and the caregivers which indicated dramatic reductions of PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, bedwetting, depression, isolation, difficulty concentrating, jumpiness, and aggression. Following the study, the use of on a self-applied and group utilized basis became part of the culture at the orphanage, and on one-year follow-up, the initial improvements had been maintained as shown on both checklists.[3] (Photo © J. Torgovnik)

SECOND STUDY: A team of four energy therapy practitioners visited Rwanda in September of 2009 to conduct trauma remediation programs with two groups of orphan genocide survivors with complex PTSD symptoms. A multi-modal intervention using three energy psychology methods (TAT, TFT, and EFT) was used, with techniques employed based on participant needs. Interventions were performed on two consecutive workshop days followed by two days of field visits with students. Data were collected using the Child Report of Posttraumatic Stress (CROPS) to measure pre- and post-intervention results, using a time-series, repeated measures design. N = 28 orphans with clinical PTSD scores completed a pretest. Of these, 10 (34%) completed posttest assessments after one week, three months, and six months, and all analysis was done on this group. They demonstrated an average reduction in symptoms of 37.3% (p < .005). Four of the ten students (40%) dropped below the clinical cutoff point for PTSD at the six month follow-up. These results are consistent with other published reports of the efficacy of energy psychology in remediating PTSD symptoms.[4]
 
US War Veterans
A 2010 pilot study of eleven US veterans with PTSD showed that a five-day EFT intervention resulted in statistically significant improvements related to anxiety, somatization, phobic anxiety and interpersonal subscales immediately after the intervention as well as at 30- and 90-day follow-ups.  The participants no longer scored positive for PTSD. Evaluation tools included the Symptom Assessment 45 and the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist – Military.[5]
   
9/11 Attack – New York
Case study: a survivor of the Twin Towers collapse of 9/11/01 was treated for prolonged complex PTSD after several years of self-imposed seclusion. Effects of a single session of EFT assessed immediately after treatment demonstrated an elimination of clinically significant scores on the Traumatic Symptom Inventory compared to two pre-treatment assessments. Similar reductions in 4 of 7 subscales of the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) were also evidenced. Twelve treatment sessions over 8 weeks concluded treatment with nearly complete symptom remediation and return to work. A 60 day follow-up PAI testing showed only one clinically elevated scale.[6]
 
Humanitarian organizations using energy psychology/EFTin their relief work:
 
Green Cross is a humanitarian relief organization founded in response to the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995.  In conjunction with the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists and the Academy of Traumatology, Green Cross trains and certifies trauma response specialists and deploys them to disaster areas worldwide. Energy psychology methods are increasingly being utilized by Green Cross trauma specialists.
 
Thought Field Therapy Foundation coordinates a team of more than 30 TFT/EFT-trained practitioners available for deployment to assist victims and workers in need during and after local and global incidents of trauma and disaster. These trauma relief volunteers have, through invitations from local governments, churches, and private groups, provided emergency and follow-up trauma relief services in the Congo, Guatemala, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Mexico, Moldavia, Nairobi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Thailand, as well as in the U.S. following Columbine, 9/11, and Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. 
 
Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology – Humanitarian Aid Committee has established an emergency response team which have provided energy psychology treatments to some 300 tsunami-affected individuals in Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, where they have also trained approximately 100 local health-care providers in an energy psychology approach. The organization’s primary strategy is to coordinate with government and nongovernment agencies, health-care organizations, and psychological associations to train local social-service providers. 
 
EFT Global is a new 501(c)(3) registered foundation launched on October 31, 2011. EFT Global is dedicated to bringing the enormous benefits of EFT to assist and empower local populations affected by natural and human-caused disasters by providing state of the art EFT training, education and holistic assistance. EFT Global is committed to providing structured training in EFT techniques to humanitarian workers around the world, as well as becoming a hub for innovative EFT applications and resources to help proactively create and promote global peace.


[1] Zhang, Ying; Feng, Bin; Xie, Jian-ping; Xu, Fang-zhong; and Chen, Jiong.  “Clinical Study on Treatment of the Earthquake-caused Post-traumatic Stress Disorder by Cognitive-behavior Therapy and Acupoint Stimulation.”  Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, March 2011; 31(1): 60-63.

[2] Johnson, C., Shala, M., Sejdijaj, X., Odell, R., & Dabishevci, D. (2001). “Thought Field Therapy: Soothing the bad moments of Kosovo.”  Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57(10), 1237-1240.

[3] Connolly, S., & Sakai, C. (2012).”Brief trauma intervention with Rwandan genocide survivors, using Thought Field Therapy.” International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 13 (3), 161-172

[4] Barbara Stone, Lori Leyden, and Bert Fellows. “Energy Psychology Treatment for Orphan Heads of Households in Rwanda: An Observational Study. “Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, (2010), 2(2), 31-38.

[5] Dawson Church. ”The Treatment of Combat Trauma in Veterans Using EFT: A Pilot Protocol.” Traumatology, (2010), 15(1), 45-55.

[6] Gregory J. Nicosia. “World Trade Center Tower 2 Survivor: EP Treatment of Long-term PTSD: A Case Study.” Presented at the ACEP Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology Conference, Baltimore, May 2008.