“Many of us, having worked for years with other methods, find that energy psychology appears to offer results that are more rapid, deep and gentle than we or our clients have hitherto experienced. We have struggled with our own perplexity and scepticism, including the natural and almost ubiquitous tendency to reject whatever violates our fundamental assumptions, and we find ourselves embracing this developing field of therapeutic enquiry with persisting enthusiasm and astonishment.”
Phil Mollon, 2008 p 474
David Feinstein, clinical psychologist and initially sceptical of these methods, writes that even if the ideas behind these therapies are very challenging to our existing assumptions:
“The claim that should first turn our understanding about human physiology on its head is anaesthesia through acupuncture which is now used throughout the world and has been widely documented in procedures from appendectomies to brain surgery. Those reports may be challenging for Westerners to assimilate into their world view. But from there, entertaining the possibility that anxiety can be reduced by stimulating a set of acupuncture points is only a small conceptual step.”
David Feinstein 2004 p 193
What is Energy Psychology?
The term was coined by clinical psychologist Fred Gallo in the 1990’s. Energy Psychology includes a family of therapeutic approaches that involves tapping or holding acupressure meridian points or chakra energy centres while the client thinks of a target troublesome thought or memory. In doing this the emotional distress is dissipated provided that internal objections to addressing the distress have been addressed. Practitioners of Energy Psychology therorise that psychological functioning involves energetic substrates in addition to neurological, neurochemical, cognitive and systemic aspects.
Mind and Energy – The therapeutic synergy
Energy Psychology methods manage to engage the mind and the body’s energy system concurrently. This creates an astonishing therapeutic synergy that allows psychological and associated physiological change at a speed and depth hitherto regarded as impossible.
Very Brief History of Energy Psychology
1964 George Goodheart, a Chiropractor became interested in changes in muscle strength in a patient and, with others, developed “Applied Kinesiology”, incorporating ideas from Chinese Medicine about meridians. They found that muscle testing could be used to give indications of stress and emotional disturbance in a person’s life.
Dr John Diamond, a psychiatrist, moved the largely physical focus of Applied Kinesiology to its application in emotional and psychological issues. He used muscle testing to link emotional states to unbalanced meridians and also discovered that certain affirmations could correct weakness in particular meridians.
1979 Roger Callahan, a clinical psychologist, cured a patient of a long-standing and severe water phobia by inviting her to tap on the end of her stomach meridian. He developed a method called Thought Field Therapy (TFT) to extend this chance discovery to other patients. Callahan developed the notion of tapping on meridian points in the correct sequence using muscle testing to determine this.
Gary Craig was a student of Roger Callahan’s and developed a simple self help form of TFT which called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), in which the same sequence of meridian points is tapped.
Tapas Fleming’s Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) is a rather different Energy Psychology method, which seems to give very gentle and profound effects.
There have now been many other adaptations and integrations of Energy psychology ideas and practices into other forms of therapy. Among the most therapeutically sophisticated of these are those by psychotherapists, for example Asha Clinton’s Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT), Phil Mollon’s Psychoanalytic Energy Therapy (PEP), and Howard Bockman’s Dynamic Energetic Healing (DEH).
Energy – What Energy?
There are two distinct forms of energy that are involved in energy therapy. The first is relatively well understood and the second, while demonstrable in its effects, is so far unexplained.
1. Electrical impulses and electro-magnetic fields in the human brain and body.
Our brains and nervous systems contain hundreds of billions of neurons that each connect electrochemically with up to ten thousand other neurons creating an incomprehensibly complex electrical system. Wherever there is an electrical current it creates and is surrounded by an electromagnetic field. Each cell of the body functions like a miniature battery with chemical reactions producing electrical current and an electromagnetic field and there are trillions of these “batteries” in our bodies. Instruments for measuring our electrical and electromagnetic energies are well established.
2. Subtle Energies
Subtle energy is energy that we do not know how to detect directly but which, like gravity, we know by its effects. These energies, while outside the Western paradigm have long been recognised in other cultures where they are known as Qi (China – the basis for acupuncture), prana (India & Tibet), ki (Japan), Baraka (in Sufisim), yesod (in Jewish Kabalistic Tradition). Many controlled studies have demonstrated that some form of energy is activated by the mind that affects physical matter e.g. beneficial effects of prayer on cardiac patients. More recent experiments by William Tiller have demonstrated the existence of magnetic “information waves” that can be modulated by human intention, thus demonstrating that mind can affect matter.
Our understanding of the body’s energy system is rudimentary, but we can still work with it.
What is a Meridian?
Recent research indicates that acupuncture meridians play an essential role in the growth and regulation of all life forms. In the growing egg they develop before other organs. The acupuncture meridian system seems to serve as the ‘backbone’ along which signals pass enabling cells and organs to communicate. It helps produce and maintain a coherent holographic pattern which guides growth and healing and is the bridge between the subtle world of Qi energy healing on the one hand and the physiological world of organs and cells. Meridians can be tracked by radioactive tracers and carry a fluid rich in RNA, DNA and stem cells.
What is a Chakra?
Chakras are described by those who can see them as whirlpools of force that swirl rapidly and give the effect of a fiery wheel. Although not physical or anatomical, the chakras do have neurophysiological correlates such as high concentrations of neuropeptides . The neurobiologist Candace Pert has described them as like ‘minibrains’ since they are centres where electrochemical information is received and processed. Many of these chakras are found at places on the body which one instinctively touches or references at moments of intense emotion.
Intercommunicating Energy Fields
Human beings are continuously intercommunicating energy fields – registering our environment, both human and physical. Projection and transference etc have a tangible physical reality and telepathy can be seen as a normal human phenomenon.
We are conceived and grow within the mother’s energy field as well as carrying a fractal energy field of the father in the original sperm cell. It appears that that we are imprinted with the information in the parental energy fields and their ancestral lines – but particularly the mother’s. The depressed mother, with a reversed energy field, is experienced by energetic resonance as disapproving and life denying.
Client and therapist form one communicative energy field. Relevant thoughts, images, emotions may occur anywhere in that shared “thought field” – in the client’s mind or speech, in the therapists mind or speech or somewhere in the discourse between them.
Muscle Testing (MT)
Muscle Testing is widely (but not invariably) used in Energy therapies to assist with both diagnosis and treatment. MT is based on the finding (since verified by computerised muscle strength testing devices) that muscles are stronger when responding to a true statement than a false one.
It is implicit in the use of Muscle Testing that there is an inherent knowledge and intelligence in the energy system. If the right question is asked, phrased in a manner that permits a yes-no answer, the system will obligingly provide the information. This is not a magical or mystical process. The system appears computer-like. … Its answers are ‘digital’ in that there are only two responses, the muscle is either ‘on’ (strong) or ‘off’(weak).
MT is more art than science and can be distorted, like any form of communication by error and misunderstanding and by lack of skill in the tester. However used sensitively and respectfully it can help to guide the work by providing working hypotheses on how to proceed and to track progress.
MT can be seen as a route to the unconscious mind and even to access information that is inherently beyond consciousness.
Obstacles to Psychological Healing
Two kinds of problems that completely block the process of healing until corrected are
Systemic energy disturbances such as ‘polarity reversal’, and ‘homolateral energy flow’
Psychological reversal (or internal objections to change) express the psychodynamics of the mind. The main motives behind PR are
It is not safe
I do not deserve
I will not still be me/identity violated
I am too angry to heal/I want to keep expressing my suffering through my symptoms
Both types of reversals can be corrected relatively simply.
See a separate page for Evidence for Energy Psychology Methods