Energy + Psychology


These are two words that, traditionally, appear to have no relation to each other.  Yet, Energy Psychology, as coined by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, is a new and growing subfield in a therapeutic space traditionally dominated by analysis on couches and behavior modification techniques.  As the psychological and mental health field opens itself up to a broader spectrum of healing modalities, focus on the human energy field is beginning to gain more prominence and research support.  And science is beginning to show what many practitioners like myself already know: there is more than the eye can see (or the mind can access) when delving into human consciousness and healing. Energy is not a new concept, nor one limited to our comic book heroes...

Our quantum physicists have uncovered, on a scientific level, that all things are made of small subatomic particles called electrons and protons.  When these "particles" are examined at a closer level, we find they are actually not made of matter at all.  They are simply spinning so fast as to mimic solidity (much like a tornado whips dust into a solid, formidable structure).  Interestingly, in experiments, when these subatomic particles are "split" from each other they can be observed to affect each other's behavior, even at great distances.  From these findings the "quantum field theory" was born, which in simplest terms, postulates that we (humans and all things) are nothing more than a field of energy waves following a specific set of quantum rules.

Don't worry if your head is spinning (mine is too...literally).  So, if we are not made of matter after all but are simply walking energy waves, it means that energy is all around us, dancing between and among people.  Traditional medicine and psychiatry are still stuck in a worldview that relies upon traditional physics and altering one's biochemistry for healing (i.e., medications).   Based upon a new energetic worldview, it no longer makes sense to focus solely on the physical, chemical alterations within the body for health and wellness.  The human energy field must be taken into account.

Human biofield research is beginning to influence much of the findings in energy psychology and energy healing research.   Experiments in this field are beginning to show that practices like yoga, healing arts like reiki, and focused "intention" can produce measurable affects on the fields surrounding the body (see biofield research by Beverly Rubik).  Research by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., of University of Arizona, has shown that when "running energy" reiki practitioners and master healers show reliable increases in bioelectromagnetic fields around the hands.  Ancient healing arts from the East have known for some time about powerful energy centers and lines throughout the body called chakras and meridians, which modern science is only beginning to figure out how to measure.  Some ancient theories of disease even attribute the source of certain medical conditions to be blocked energy fields in the human body.  Acupuncture, for instance, uses ancient Chinese techniques and needles to increase energy flow, or "chi," throughout the body by targeting specific energy meridians and pressure points throughout the body (White & Ernst, 2004).

According to Dr. Dan Siegel, energy is now beginning to be seen as not just "force" (the wave principle) but as "information flow" too.  Information in this case means a "pattern of energy with symbolic value" (standing for something other than itself).  How cool!  If energy contains information, it opens up a whole new field of thinking surrounding healing.  Transferring energetic information via an experienced healer, acupuncture needles, or hands-on contact to the body's energy field and energy centers could potentially provide the mechanism which alters the physical, chemical signals in the body.  After all, research shows that our cellular structures are affected by environmental information and input.  We especially know this for disease processes, so why not healing processes?  Only now are we beginning to learn more scientifically, allowing these methods to gain more credibility.


The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology defines energy psychology methods as:

a collection of mind-body approaches for understanding and improving human functioning. EP focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behaviors, and known bioenergy systems (such as meridians and the biofield). These systems and processes exist, and interact, within individuals and between people. They are also influenced by cultural and environmental factors.

The Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as "tapping," and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are common tools within this emerging field.  A number of associated techniques under the overall umbrella of "energy medicine," which are similar to those employed in energy psychology, include acupressure, biofield, cranio-sacral therapy, "body talk," "healing touch," johrei, polarity therapy, pranic healing, quantum touch, reflexology, reiki, and "touch for health."

The more I research and the more I work with energy healing techniques, I become more convinced that these methods are on the cutting edge of how we will understand health, physical, mental, and emotional, in the future.  As our health system continues to be bogged down by the big business pharmaceutical industry, with its often life-long, chronic diagnoses and accompanying prescriptions (and damaging side effects), it is imperative that we begin to broaden our view of health and healing.

Mind-body techniques like energy medicine are just part of a growing alternative medicine field.  Nutritional healing, mindfulness and meditation, and somatic and spiritual healing techniques are also gaining steam in a modernized healthcare world where people are beginning to take charge of their own wellness, often seeking options beyond traditional Western medicine.  As paradigms shift and research grows, it's important to continue to stretch our understanding beyond the limited worldview of physicality (what we can see and touch) that has dominated Western medicine for several centuries, because as a quantum physicist would say, we can't actually "touch" anything.

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