Tom Porpiglia, MS, a licensed mental health counselor and an Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) practitioner, can relate to the veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he works with as part of the Veterans Stress Project. Porpiglia is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He experienced repressed fears and anxiety years after his experiences during the war and got limited relief through traditional therapy.
“Veterans often try multiple methods of coping,” Porpiglia says. “But current treatment approaches and medications don’t work for many vets.”
Porpiglia and other EFT practitioners involved with the Veterans Stress Project offer veterans something many of them haven’t had in years — hope. They use EFT to help veterans release the negative emotions they have about traumatic events they experienced in war and at other times in their lives. During EFT sessions, experienced EFT practitioners guide veterans as they focus on their traumatic memories in a safe way while they tap on certain acupressure points. The tapping sends calming signals through the body and helps regulate the autonomic nervous system.
"After multiple EFT sessions, the veterans feel and function better, their relationships improve, and their symptoms are eliminated or reduced dramatically,” Porpiglia says. “It’s amazing.”
A randomized controlled study validating the effectiveness of using EFT to help veterans with PTSD was published on Friday, Feb. 1, in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. The study found that 86 percent of the veterans who participated no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD after undergoing just six hour-long EFT sessions.
The study’s lead author, Dawson Church, Ph.D., of the Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine in Santa Rosa, Calif., says, “This study shows that veterans don’t have to suffer with PTSD. America already has a solution.”
“It’s significant that the results were so impressive,” says Marilyn McWilliams, an EFT Research Coach with the Veterans Stress Project. “The research opens the door to changing from an America which is desperately seeking a solution to help its veterans suffering with PTSD to an America that realizes it has a solution and implements it.”
Currently, only a few Veterans Administration Centers offer EFT despite calls from several members of Congress to make EFT widely available to veterans with PTSD.
Porpiglia welcomes people’s skepticism about EFT. He didn’t realize how effective the technique was until he suffered a traumatic experience when snorkeling while away at a conference. He got so exhausted that he couldn't swim back to the boat and had to be rescued by the boat captain. EFT practitioners who were nearby immediately began tapping on Porpiglia.
“It was so profound,” he says. “I was feeling a ‘volcano’ of terror. After a few rounds of EFT, it was gone.”
Veterans can find out more about how to participate in current or future PTSD studies or locate an EFT practitioner who works with veterans at low or no cost at the Veterans Stress Project website.
Click here to read Part 1 of this series. Part 3 features a veteran who suffered with PTSD for years and says EFT changed his life. Subscribe to my examiner feed at the top of this page (under the headline) to get instant updates when these and other EFT articles are posted.