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Energy Psychology: Theoretical and Review Articles


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Benor, D.J., 2014. Energy psychology-practices and theories of new combinations of psychotherapy. Curr. Res. Psychol., 5: 1-18.


Energy Psychology (EP) includes a spectrum of practices in which people tap on their bodies while focusing their minds on problems they want to change. EP therapies often are very rapidly effective. This article examines varieties of explanations for how EP works, including: Cognitive changes, psychological conditioning, expectation effects, distraction techniques, tapping on acupuncture points, shifts in other biological energies, wholistic healing, alternating stimulation of right and left sides of the body (presumably producing alternating stimulation of left and right brain hemispheres) and nerve conduction speeds.


Dunnewold, A.L., 2014. Thought field therapy efficacy following large-scale traumatic events. Curr. Res. Psychol., 5: 34-39.


Thought Field Therapy (TFT) has been shown to reduce symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress (PTS) with trauma survivors in four studies in Africa. In a 2006 preliminary study, orphaned Rwandan adolescents, who reported ongoing trauma symptoms since the 1994 genocide, were treated with TFT. A 2008 Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) examined the efficacy of TFT treatments facilitated by Rwandan Community leaders in reducing PTS symptoms in adult survivors of the 1994 genocide. Results of the 2008 study were replicated in a second RCT in Rwanda in 2009. A fourth RCT in Uganda (in preparation for submission) demonstrated significant differences in a third community leader-administered TFT treatment. The studies described here suggest that one-time, community leader-facilitated TFT interventions may be beneficial with protracted PTS in genocide survivors.


Feinstein, D. (2013). EP Treatments Over a Distance: The Curious Phenomenon of "Surrogate Tapping.” Energy Psychology Journal, 5(1). doi:10.9769.EPJ.2013.5.1.DF


A psychotherapeutic approach that combines cognitive techniques with the stimulation of acupuncture points by tapping on them has been gaining increased attention among clinicians as well as among laypersons using it on a self-help basis. It is called energy psychology. Thirty-six peer-reviewed studies published or in press as of April 2012—including 18 randomized controlled trials—have found the method to be surprisingly rapid and effective for a range of disorders. More surprising are reports of "surrogate tapping.” In surrogate tapping, the practitioner taps on him or herself and applies other elements of energy psychology protocols as if he or she were the person whose problem is being addressed, all the while holding the intention of helping that person. Essentially long distance healing within an energy psychology framework, successful reports of surrogate tapping have been appearing with some frequency within the energy psychology practitioner community. A search of the literature and pertinent websites, combined with a call for cases involving surrogate tapping, produced the 100 anecdotal accounts described here where an apparent effect was observed. Studies of other long-distance phenomena, such as telepathy and distant healing, are reviewed to put these reports into context. The paradigm challenges raised by reports of positive outcomes following surrogate treatments are considered, and conclusions that can and cannot be legitimately reached based on the current data are explored.


Gallo, F. (2013). Energy for healing trauma: Energy Psychology and the efficient treatment of trauma and PTSD. Energy Psychology Journal, 5(1). doi: 10.9769.EPJ.2013.5.1.FPG


Recently there has been increasing interest in investigating energy psychology theoretically and as clinical intervention. This article provides an overview of energy psychology, including its history, theory, active ingredients, and empirical research on the effects in general and for the treatment of trauma and PTSD. Personal and case vignettes are also provided to illustrate the treatment process. The therapeutic effects are also discussed with respect to neuroscience, cognitive restructuring, reciprocal inhibition, genetics, distraction, placebo effect, memory reconsolidation, energetic and spiritual considerations.


Feinstein, D. (2012). What Does Energy Have to Do with Energy Psychology? Energy Psychology Journal, 4(2). doi: 10.9769/EPJ.2012.4.2.DF


An obstacle to professional acceptance of the growing body of research supporting the efficacy of energy psychology is the vague use of the term "energy” in the field’s name and explanatory models. This paper explores whether the concept of "energy” is useful in accounting for the observed clinical outcomes that follow "energy psychology” treatments. Several anomalies within energy psychology that confound conventional clinical models are considered. The most vexing of these is that a growing number of anecdotal accounts suggest that one person can self-apply an energy psychology protocol, with the intention of helping another person who is in a distant location, leading to the other person reporting unanticipated benefits more frequently than chance would seem to explain. The possible roles of "energy” and macrosystem quantum effects in these anomalies are examined. A working model is proposed that attempts to explain the actions of energy psychology treatments in a manner that is consistent with established scientific knowledge while accounting for the anomalies. Three premises about the role of energy are delineated in this working model, and potential strengths of the model for practitioners and researchers are discussed.


Pasahow, R. (2010). Methodological and Theoretical Problems in the Waite and Holder (2003) Study on Fears and EFT. Energy Psychology Journal, 2(2). doi: 10.9769/EPJ.2010.2.2.RP


Energy psychology (EP) represents a paradigm for the treatment of mental health problems. A number of studies and case reports have demonstrated its efficacy in reducing psychological conflicts and symptoms. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are the most extensively researched model of EP. For EFT to be classified as an empirically based treatment according to American Psychological Association (APA) Division 12 Task Force criteria, research needs to demonstrate its efficacy in a number of experimental and clinical settings. It is also necessary to provide alternative explanations when experimental data are interpreted as disproving major hypotheses. In Waite and Holder’s (2003) study on EFT, inclusion of two sham treatment groups and a control group attempted to isolate the factors that cause symptom reduction. Initial reviewers interpreted these data as disproving the fundamental hypothesis of EFT. The APA’s Continuing Education Committee cited this study as 1 factor for disputing the scientific basis of EFT. Subsequent analyses have interpreted this study as being supportive of EFT hypotheses. However, numerous statistical omissions, incorrect applications of EFT procedures, and insufficient treatment time preclude meaningful conclusions regarding EFT. The only dependent variable was participants’ fear ratings, which many researchers do not consider an adequate outcome measure. Multidimensional assessments would have provided more precise data and limited how much demand characteristics influenced the results.


Baker, A.H., Carrington, P., Putilin, D. (2009). Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Research on Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Other Meridian Based Therapies. Psychology: Theory, Research & Treatment, 6(2), 34-46.


Controlled research into Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other meridian-based therapies is at its beginnings. We examined several issues facing EFT researchers, including: the number and type of dependent measures; expectancy effects; the need for follow-up assessment; a newly proposed procedure for keeping participants blind; the duration of the intervention; the value of treating the hypothesized Energy Meridian System and EFT's operations as separate constructs; and the possibility that EFT's efficacy is mediated by processes long known to be associated with psychotherapy. Such issues are considered in the context of three recent EFT studies: Waite and Holder (2003); Wells et al. (2003); and Baker (2010). Some limitations of these studies are delineated and guidelines on EFT research are suggested.


Feinstein, D. (2009). Controversies in Energy Psychology. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 1(1), 45-56.


In the nearly three decades since tapping on acupuncture points was introduced as a method psychotherapists could use in the treatment of anxiety disorders and other emotional concerns, more than 30 variations of the approach have emerged. Collectively referred to as energy psychology (EP), reports of unusual speed, range, and durability of clinical outcomes have been provocative. Enthusiasts believe EP to be a major breakthrough while skeptics believe the claims are improbable and certainly have not been substantiated with ad- equate data or explanatory models. Additional controversies exist among EP practitioners. This paper addresses the field’s credibility problems among mental health professionals as well as controversies within EP regarding (a) its most viable explanatory models, (b) its most effective protocols, (c) how the approach interfaces with other forms of clinical practice, (d) the conditions it can treat effectively, (e) what should be done when the method does not seem to work, and (f) how the professional community should respond to the large number of practitioners who do not have mental health credentials.


Gallo, Fred. (2009). Energy Psychology in Rehabilitation: Origins, Clinical Applications, and Theory. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 1(1), 57-72.


Three forces have dominated psychology and psychological treatment at different times since the early 1900s. The first force was Freudian psychoanalysis and its offshoots that focus on unconscious psychodynamics and developmental fixations, with principal therapeutic techniques including free association, dream analysis, interpretation, and abreaction. Second came behaviorism, spearheaded by Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner, which emphasized environmental stimuli and conditioning—its techniques including respondent and operant conditioning, exposure, desensitization, schedules of reinforcement, modeling, and more. The third force involved humanistic and transpersonal approaches that attend to values and choice, including client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, phenomenology, and cognitive therapy, some of the principal leaders being Rogers, Maslow, Perls, Rollo May, Binswanger, and Ellis. Recently the new paradigm of energy psychology has emerged, which may be considered psychology’s fourth force. The earliest pioneers included Goodheart, Diamond, and Callahan. This theoretical and practice approach offers the field some unique findings, as it views psychological problems as body–mind interactions and bioenergy fields, providing treatments that directly and efficiently address these substrates. Some of energy psychology’s techniques include stimulating acupoints and chakras, specific body postures, affirmations, imagery, manual muscle testing, and an emphasis on intention. This review covers energy psychology’s historical development and experimental evidence base. Case illustrations and treatment protocols are discussed for the treatment of psychological trauma and physical pain, two of the most important and ubiquitous aspects common to rehabilitation conditions. Additionally, the research on energy psychology is highlighted, and the distinction between global treatments and causal energy diagnostic-treatment approaches to treatment is addressed.


Feinstein, D. (2008a). Energy psychology: a review of the preliminary evidence. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 45(2), 199-213.


Energy psychology utilizes imaginal and narrative-generated exposure, paired with interventions that reduce hyperarousal through acupressure and related techniques. According to practitioners, this leads to treatment outcomes that are more rapid, powerful, and precise than the strategies used in other exposure-based treatments such as relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing. The method has been exceedingly controversial. It relies on unfamiliar procedures adapted from non-Western cultures, posits unverified mechanisms of action, and early claims of unusual speed and therapeutic power ran far ahead of initial empirical support. This paper reviews a hierarchy of evidence regarding the efficacy of energy psychology, from anecdotal reports to randomized clinical trials. Although the evidence is still preliminary, energy psychology has reached the minimum threshold for being designated as an evidence-based treatment, with one form having met the APA Division 12 criteria as a "probably efficacious treatment” for specific phobias; another for maintaining weight loss. The limited scientific evidence, combined with extensive clinical reports, suggests that energy psychology holds promise as a rapid and potent treatment for a range of psychological conditions.


Pignotti, M., & Thayer, B. (2009). Some comments on "Energy psychology: A review of the evidence.” Premature conclusions based on incomplete evidence? Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 46(2), 257-261. doi: 10-1037/a0016027


A review of the evidence on energy psychology (EP) was published in this journal. Although the author’s stated intention of reviewing the evidence is one we support, we note that important EP studies were omitted from the review that did not confirm claims being made by EP proponents. We also identify other problems with the review, such as the lack of specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, misportrayal of criticism of EP, incorrectly characterizing one of the studies as a randomized clinical trial, and lack of disclosure regarding an EP-related business. We note that in the APA, decisions on classification of therapies as empirically supported are most rightfully the function of Division 12-appointed committees of psychologists. It is not enough for any one individual or group of proponents of a particular approach to make such a determination.


Pignotti, M. (2005). Thought Field Therapy Voice Technology vs. Random Meridian Point Sequences: A Single-blind Controlled Experiment. Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 4(1), 2005, 38-47.


The Thought Field Therapy Voice Technology (TFT VT) is a proprietary procedure, claimed by proponents to have a 97-98% success rate in curing psychological problems. VT practitioners can allegedly "diagnose" over the telephone precise, individualized codes of acupressure points, which the individual is then instructed to tap on. This single-blind controlled study quasi-randomly assigned 66 participants to either TFT VT treatment (n=33) or to a control group (n=33), which received a randomly selected sequence of treatment points. For each group, 97% of the participants reported a complete elimination of all subjective emotional distress. A 2×2 two-way mixed ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the two groups. Possible explanations for the 97% self-reported "success" rate are discussed and the wisdom and ethics of having mental-health treatments that are proprietary trade secrets is questioned.


Ruden, R. A. (2005). A neurological basis for the observed peripheral sensory modulation of emotional responses. Traumatology, 11, 145-158. doi: 10.1177/153476560501100301


A new therapy for phobias, PTSD, addictive behaviors and other psychological issues was first described by Dr. Roger Callahan and involves thought activation of the problem followed by tapping on certain acupoints in a specific sequence. In addition, a gamut procedure involving further tapping, eye movements and following simple commands is used. He calls his method Thought Field Therapy. In most cases, the problems were reportedly cured in a matter of minutes. We theorize about the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the success of this technique.

We propose that tapping and other sensory stimulation procedures globally increase serotonin. The important structures specifically involved in this therapy are the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The success of this technique requires that glutamate first be increased in the circuit that involves the conditioning stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. This analysis does not define sequences for tapping. We suggest the name Psychosensory Therapy to encompass this specific treatment as well as to define a broader new paradigm for the treatment of these problems.


Rubik B. (2002). The biofield hypothesis: Its biophysical basis and role in medicine. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8:703-717.


This paper provides a scientific foundation for the biofield: the complex, extremely weak electromagnetic field of the organism hypothesized to involve electromagnetic bioinformation for regulating homeodynamics. The biofield is a useful construct consistent with bioelectromagnetics and the physics of nonlinear, dynamical, nonequilibrium living systems. It offers a unifying hypothesis to explain the interaction of objects or fields with the organism, and is especially useful toward understanding the scientific basis of energy medicine, including acupuncture, biofield therapies, bioelectromagnetic therapies, and homeopathy. The rapid signal propagation of electromagnetic fields comprising the biofield as well as its holistic properties may account for the rapid, holistic effects of certain alternative and complementary medical interventions.



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