Does energy psychology really work?

Energy can be felt and experienced, but not seen. That is both its power and its Achilles heel.

Energy medicine has been practised in ancient cultures for thousands of years. The philosophy is that when energy is blocked or unbalanced, the body will develop symptoms of dis-ease. Since the condition originates in the energy system, that’s what is treated. Acupuncture is one of the more familiar examples of this approach.

In Western culture, we are schooled to discount the energetic aspects of our existence. This leaves many people playing the game of life with a poor hand, the best cards still left in the box.

Playing with a poor hand

One of the Western versions of energy medicine is known as energy psychology. Before actually having a personal experience with it, most people would want to know who says it works and how it’s useful. Fair enough.

So where’s the evidence?

Energy psychology has been called “acupressure for the emotions.” By tapping energy points on the surface of the skin while focusing the mind on specific psychological problems or goals, the brain’s electrochemistry can be shifted. Shifts typically occur more rapidly than with traditional talk therapy. This one-minute news clip from April 2017 reports on research at Bond University in Australia using EFT tapping to reduce food cravings.

The next video demonstrates the results of using energy psychology with a much more debilitating condition. In March 2008, eleven military veterans or family members, all with PTSD, participated in a pilot program where each received 10 to 15 hours of EFT, over a 5-day period at a location in San Francisco. This is a 10-minute excerpt from a full-length documentary film, “OPERATION: Emotional Freedom.”

The next video shows EFT in action after a natural disaster. The Philippines typhoon of November 2013 has been described as “one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record.” The landscape and the people were devastated. Sebastiaan van der Schrier, who specializes in dealing with social anxiety, went to help children release the trauma they experienced, train Filipino psychologists in EFT, and build sustainable buildings including schools. This video was made as a fundraiser and I’m not showing it to solicit funds, but because it’s an excellent demonstration of how EFT can be applied in large-scale disasters.

Explore further…

On May 31, 2017 in a Huffpost article, psychologist Dawson Church reported on a research review of the use of EFT to treat anxiety. He concludes his report by saying, “…the meta-analysis advocates EFT as a safe, simple, evidence-based self-help method that can be used alongside conventional psychological and medical care.”

Energy Psychology Journal is a peer-reviewed professional journal dedicated to reporting developments in the field of energy psychology (EP) that are of interest to healthcare professionals and researchers.

“Acupoint Stimulation in Treating Psychological Disorders: Evidence of Efficacy” was published in 2012 by the American Psychological Association.

ACEP (Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology) has an extensive research section on its website. ACEP represents all types of energy psychology, so you’ll find more than tapping discussed. According to its downloadable fact sheet, over 100 research studies, review articles and meta-analyses have been published in professional, peer-reviewed journals. This includes 45 randomized controlled trials and 39 outcome studies, 98% of which show positive results. There have also been 4 meta-analyses, 5 systemic reviews and hundreds of case studies. And here’s what you’ll find at the ACEP blog about energy psychology research.

The research section of EFTuniverse contains an extensive listing in several categories. When you scroll down, you’ll come to a section about opposing viewpoints and some rebuttals. Here’s part of that commentary.

Skeptical and Opposing Viewpoints

…EFT’s combination of Western psychotherapy and acupuncture is controversial. Any new therapy faces an uphill journey to acceptance, since research funding goes to established methods…This results in a “translational gap,” a very long lag between the discovery of effective new therapies, and their implementation in primary care. According to a US government analysis, the translational gap averages 17 years (Institute of Medicine, 2001). Only 20% of new therapies succeed in crossing what the report calls a “quality chasm”; the benefits of the remaining 80% are forever lost to patients.

While the skeptics are successful in blocking the majority of new treatments, it is our goal to see that the millions of people suffering from devastating conditions such as PTSD and major depression have EFT as an option in primary care. Below is a selection of articles published in peer-reviewed journals that criticize EFT. You can decide on their merits for yourself.

For more about how energy psyhology can be used, here are some previous blogs…

I like that you can learn and use many energy psychology modalities yourself. Probably not if you have PTSD, but it’s certainly worth a try if you are craving food or feeling anxiety. It doesn’t cost anything to experiment!

Be curious. Ask questions.

Curiosity is the antidote to being stuck in that awful place when you know what to do and can’t make it happen. You are stuck, and might be inclined to beat yourself up about that. Instead, get curious about what is going on that’s keeping you stuck.

It might be that you’re not hurting enough yet to want to make the effort to get unstuck. You might be afraid of losing something when making lasting changes. There are a lot of gains we get from doing things as we’ve always done them, or doing what we know we shouldn’t be doing. Or you might feel you “should” do something, but part of you is resisting.

Whatever the case, this is an invitation to find out what’s really underlying your resistance to making a change. Being more self-aware and understanding ourselves is our superpower…when we use it.

Get curious on your own behalf.

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Getting rid of inner clutter to deal with outer chaos

Paper chaps

True confession—this is what my outer chaos looks like most days.

Ever since I started this blog a year ago, I’ve been drowning in books, papers, and sticky notes. I find myself researching a wide array of sources and don’t want to lose track of  important thoughts. My aim is to pull ideas together in new ways. That seems to mean I have to amass a of ideas before I can recombine and distill them. It’s a messy process, but that’s how I work.

Recently I became aware that the volume of idea clutter had become overwhelming. It was no longer helpful. It was causing me stress.

Relieving the stress of overwhelm

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Self Help for Stress Relief

Stress usually arises at inconvenient times. How useful it is to know what to do about it at the time, on your own!

This post is an introduction to two energy psychology modalities that are self-empowering—easy to learn and you can do them yourself. Both are methods I use and recommend.

Emotional Freedom Technique

What is the Emotional Freedom Technique? How is it used? Does it work? Dawson Church explains…

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When life seems too demanding…

It’s easy to feel stuck or overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. It’s not a constructive state of mind. It can lead to stress and anxiety.

Daniel Friedland MD is a high-performance leadership trainer. In this video he shares tips on how to shift your mindset so you can accomplish what seems overwhelming. The key is to turn stress into challenge. This shift in viewpoint leads to a different energy toward what needs to be accomplished, resulting in a greater sense of control and a more productive outcome.

It applies to demands in any setting, for people at all stages and in any role in life. When the shift is made, it’s like a weight being lifted—you feel lighter, with a sense of breathing space. Then you can tackle the challenge with enthusiasm rather than dread.

His two key tips Continue reading

Ask a better question.

Shann Nix Jones unexpectedly found herself married to a farmer, living on a Welsh farm, raising goats, and producing kefir. When her husband had major surgery, he came home from hospital with MRSA, an antibiotic-resistent condition. In Wales, MRSA patients are not allowed back into the hospital because of its life-threatening nature. The doctor who made house calls had no treatment to offer either. Continue reading

What kept me going?

There have been parts of the last 15 years that were neither easy nor fun. People sometimes ask what kept me going. That is something I have wondered myself. I’ve distilled it down to innate optimism, a strong connection with my inner knowing, and an intense sense of purpose. I was born with all of them, and have consciously cultivated them over the years.

A healthy streak of optimism…

Optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future. You might think of it in terms of the glass half empty/glass half full metaphor. When optimism becomes extreme, it falls off the edge into being Pollyannaish. Continue reading

Beyond Informed Choice

Eleanor Roosevelt on choice

Choice is our greatest power. It’s what allows us to use all our resources to live our best lives.  But the consumer culture trains us to make decisions by default rather than by conscious choice. Truth is, questioning the status quo and making conscious choices can seem daunting. Many of us are happy to let others decide because we don’t know how to make choices consciously.

Living by default

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Integrative Medicine

When Pamela Wible MD held a meeting to find out what would create an ideal medical experience for patients in her town, she discovered they wanted an integrative approach to their medical care. What exactly is that? And why would they want it?

What is integrative medicine?

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The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

I found Barbara’s story particularly poignant because so many people experience variations of what she described. And it happens all the way along the age continuum…from children with learning disabilities of varying degrees to adults with dementia of various types and severity.

Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s vision is a lofty one—that cognitive exercises become a normal part of curriculum, and that school becomes a place that we go to strengthen our brains. The good news is, she has done something about it. The Arrowsmith Program is offered at schools throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

And what can we do?

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