Does Combining Emotional Freedom Techniques and Hypnosis Have an Effect on Sexual Assault–Specific Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms?

doi 10.9769/EPJ.2019.11.2.KA

Katrina Anderson, Beverly Rubik, and Werner Absenger


Objectives:Reducing communication apprehension (CA) in university public speaking classes has been traditionally achieved by strategies such as skills training, rehearsal, preparation, and repeated performance. Yet, some highly anxious speakers require more intensive interventions. Recently, Energy Psychology (EP) protocols such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Primordial Energy Activation and Transcendence (PEAT) have significantly reduced CA after brief interventions. Other studies have investigated the therapeutic effects of the various components of selected EP protocols through dismantling studies. This study contributes to existing EP dismantling and CA studies by exploring the efficacy of two modified PEAT protocols. Participants (N = 51) were randomly placed into one of three groups: a modified PEAT acupressure group, a modified PEAT non-acupressure group, and a no-treatment control group. Mixed method analyses did not find a significant difference in CA scores (p < .05) or reported subjective experiences between groups at posttest, and highly anxious speakers benefitted more from the public speaking course than less anxious ones. The authors suggest that dismantling the original PEAT technique may have limited its efficacy and further study on PEAT for CA is required.

Design:This study utilized an explanatory sequential mixed method design.

Setting:This study was conducted in a private psychotherapy office.

Subjects:30 individuals with self-identified sexual assault–specific PTSD were recruited and participated in this study.

Interventions:EFT and hypnosis combined.

Outcome measures:A paired samples t-test analysis between the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition]) baseline and post-intervention scores as well as an open-ended question was utilized.

Results:t(29) = 12.198, p < .001, indicating that overall the change in self-reported symptom ratings was statistically different between the two time points. The open-ended qualitative question pointed to a relationship between experience in session and PCL-5 score.

Conclusion:This study found an overall decrease of 34.3% on PTSD symptom severity based on PCL-5 assessment scores, after four sessions of the combined EFT and hypnosis treatment.

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