Veterans are honored every year on Nov. 11 for their service, but for 365 days a year there are services available to help these designated heroes get past the death and destruction they witnessed during war.
Many soldiers returning from the current wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the older generation still experiencing flashbacks from Vietnam, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 20 percent of the soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from PTSD. An additional 320,000 soldiers returning from the ongoing wars have experienced traumatic brain injuries during deployment.
To address those issues, soldiers are getting medication and attending therapy, and now, some are taking advantage of a new kind of treatment known as Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT.
EFT is a short-term psychotherapy approach based on the principles of emotion theory and attachment theory.
In Oro Valley, Mary Stafford has been providing EFT services since the 1990s, and when it comes to veterans, she is happy to see the results are positive.
“It is really hard on these soldiers,” said Stafford. “They come back with rage, depression and fear. They don’t know how to deal with these problems. They end up getting divorced. They end up getting addicted to drugs and alcohol. They become desperate, and many come to me after they’ve tried everything else.”
Created by Gary Craig, EFT is a tapping, or touch, therapy that works like emotional acupressure to release the negative emotions and beliefs that are at the root of most problems and pain. It is described as acupuncture without needles, as doctors focus on various energy points to tap throughout the body, from the wrist to underneath the eyes.
To bring more attention to EFT, Stafford will host a free showing of the film, “Operation: Emotional Freedom – The Answer,” on Veterans Day to anyone interested in learning about tapping their way to emotional recovery, and for soldiers who are currently suffering from PTSD.
The 90-minute video highlights EFT, and shows a group of veterans who participated in Craig’s study group.
Stafford will be playing a video where viewers can see firsthand how EFT works.
“Energy psychology techniques address what you really need to do, which is rewire perception of what happened,” Craig says in the documentary. “Yes, it happened, but 10 years later you don’t need to behave as though it’s about to happen again.”
Emotionally focused therapy proposes that emotions themselves have an innately adaptive potential that, if activated, can help clients change problematic emotional states or unwanted self-experiences.
Stafford, an EFT Master, called her work, “the most satisfying thing ever,” now that she’s adopted the tapping therapy approach to help patients.
Stafford has seen soldiers all over Tucson and the state, noting that instead of months or years to get better, her patients feel improved within weeks or months of starting EFT treatment.
Stafford said EFT is still not a commonly used as a method for treatment, especially for soldiers suffering from PTSD. However, as more information and studies become available showing the program’s success, many hope professionals will take notice and adopt the method.
Craig said the problem with EFT is that the method is only “partially” accepted in the scientific community.
“The results are too good, making the work suspect,” he said.
The event to raise awareness of PTSD, and how EFT can help, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the St. Francis in the Foothills Church located at 4625 E. River Road.
If you go
What: PTSD & Trauma Awareness Day
Event: Showing of the film, “Operation: Emotional Freedom – The Answer”
When: 2-4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11
Where: St. Francis in the Foothills Church, 4625 E. River Road, Tucson
For more information, call 575-1497.