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!

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