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Energy Psychology in Disaster Relief

David Feinstein, PhD.
Traumatology, (2008), 14(1), 24-137.


Energy psychology utilizes cognitive operations such as imaginal exposure to traumatic memories or visualization of optimal performance scenarios combined with physical interventions derived from acupuncture, yoga, and related systems for inducing psychological change. While a controversial approach, this combination purportedly brings about, with unusual speed and precision, therapeutic shifts in affective, cognitive, and behavioral patterns that underlie a range of psychological concerns. Energy psychology has been applied in the wake of natural and human-made disasters in the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Mexico, Moldavia, Nairobi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, and the U.S. At least three international humanitarian relief organizations have adapted energy psychology as a treatment in their post-disaster missions. Four tiers of energy psychology interventions include 1) immediate relief/stabilization, 2) extinguishing conditioned responses, 3) overcoming complex psychological problems, and 4) promoting optimal functioning. The first tier is most pertinent in psychological first aid immediately following a disaster, with the subsequent tiers progressively being introduced over time with complex stress reactions and chronic disorders. This paper reviews the approach, considers its viability, and offers a framework for applying energy psychology in treating disaster survivors.


Treatment of PTSD in Rwandan Child Genocide Survivors
Using Thought Field Therapy.

Sakai, Caroline; Connolly, Suzanne; Oas, Paul.
International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 12(1), 41-5.


Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which utilizes the self-tapping of specific acupuncture points while recalling a traumatic event or cue, was applied with 50 orphaned teens who had been suffering with symptoms of PTSD since the Rwandan genocide 12 years earlier. Following a single TFT session, scores on a PTSD checklist completed by caretakers and on a self-rated PTSD checklist had significantly decreased (p < .0001 on both measures). The number of participants exceeding the PTSD cutoffs decreased from 100% to 6% on the caregiver ratings and from 72% to 18% on the self-ratings. The findings were corroborated by informal interviews with the adolescents and the caregivers which indicated dramatic reductions of PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, bedwetting, depression, isolation, difficulty concentrating, jumpiness, and aggression. Following the study, the use of TFT on a self-applied and group utilized basis became part of the culture at the orphanage, and on one-year follow-up, the initial improvements had been maintained as shown on both checklists.


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Energy Psychology Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress in Genocide Survivors in a Rwandan Orphanage: A Pilot Investigation

Barbara Stone, PhD, Lori Leyden, PhD, & Bert Fellows, MA.
Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, (2009), 1(1), 73-82.


A team of four energy therapy practitioners visited Rwanda in September of 2009 to conduct trauma remediation programs with orphan genocide survivors with complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The program consisted of holistic, multi-dimensional rapport-building exercises, followed by an intervention using Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Interventions were performed on three consecutive days. Data were collected using the Child Report of Post- traumatic Stress (CROPS) to measure pre- and post-intervention results, using a time-series, repeated measures design. N = 48 orphans at the Remera Mbogo Residential High School Orphanage with clinical PTSD scores completed a pretest. Of these, 34 (7_%) completed a post- test assessment. They demonstrated an average reduction in symptoms of _8.8% (p < .00_). Seven students (2_%) dropped below the clini- cal cutoff point for PTSD, with average score reductions of 53.7% (p < .00_). Follow-ups are planned, to determine if participant gains hold over time. Directions for future research aris- ing out of data gathered in this pilot study are discussed.

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