Integrating Energy Psychology and the Meridian Therapies into the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation

 

            Energy Psychology (EP) is a relatively new discipline within the field of Psychology.  First coined by Fred Gallo in the late 1990’s EP is where East meets West in a remarkable collaboration of teachings, beliefs and practices. At its heart is the understanding that we are energetic beings with a “complex network of interwoven energy fields that operate within and around the body” (Diepold, Gallo p23).  5000 years ago Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine developed a complicated system for treating medical and psychological problems based on this belief.  Five Millennia later Einstein concluded that all of nature was made up of energy and that matter is nothing more than condensed energy. In the Mid 1900’s John Goodheart (a chiropractor) and John Diamond (a psychiatrist) developed Applied & Behavioral Kinesiology, a system of working with the energies of the body to get information from the body as well as to find relief from various maladies.  In the 1990’s Candace Pert (a medical researcher), discovered ways to map out the physiology of emotions.  And by the turn of the 20th Century  a variety of techniques were developed that integrate both ancient traditions and more modern technological discoveries including the laws of quantum physics with contemporary psychology to treat many of the persistent & recalcitrant problems people face. Pert states that “Energy Psychology has rapidly become one of the hottest areas of what I call ‘New Paradigm Medicine’.  Research is accumulating which suggests that healing the emotions is not only a gateway to a happier and more fulfilling life it is a gateway to healing the body of virtually any physical illness” (Feinstein p xv). 

                

What is this energy so widely talked about?  With instruments such as the MRI, ECG, EKG, PET & SPECT Scans the electromagnetic, electrochemical & biofield energy spectrum can be measured.   But our energy field also includes a more “subtle energy” known as the Life Force and the Thought Field which isn’t so easily measured directly but is recognized by its effects.  For instance when a person has a difficult experience a disturbance is created within the energy field that causes alterations within the person’s system.  Biochemical changes take place on the cellular level that affects them physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually (Pert, 1997).  There is an innate mind/ body connection at the heart of every experience we have.  Whatever is happening in the mind is also happening in the body and vice versa.    An overwhelming experience affects the neurological system which sets up a series of biochemical changes that create an intense anxiety reaction. That experience leads to thoughts/ beliefs that lead to anticipatory phobias which set up the cascade of biochemical changes that lead to a panic attack.  But what is the cause of the panic?  Is it the traumatic experience or the underlying thoughts and beliefs?  And what are these thoughts that can so dramatically affect our systems both for the positive as well as the negative?  From an Energy Psychology point of view it is believed that our thoughts are “subtle energies” that have powerful effects on our systems. One of the most dramatic studies of the effects of these forces is the study done by Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto.  He photographed pictures of frozen water molecules after they had been exposed to various forms of energy, including music, pollution and different kinds of thought.  Those molecules exposed to negative influences (pollution, hate, heavy metal music) became deformed and disfigured.  When exposed to love, classical music and meditation they developed into beautiful, symmetrical patterns. (http://www.life-enthusiast.com/twilight/research_emoto.htm) 

 


Fujiwara Dam, before offering a prayer


Fujiwara Dam, after offering a prayer

 

Given that our bodies are 70% water and our brains 90% water these findings can have a powerful effect on how we view the effect our thoughts ultimately have on our bodies.  Other controlled studies show the impact of visualization, directed thought and prayer on people, plants and animals including decreasing complications for cardiac patients and increasing the growth of flowers. (Benor, 2001; Dossey, 1993;  Harris et al., 1999) 

The Meridian Therapies are a group of Energy Psychology modalities that bring about change on a psychological, emotional, physiological and spiritual level by stimulating the energy system of the body in particular ways.  Based on ancient Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Chakras and Yoga these modalities utilize some form of stimulation of the acupoints either by tapping, massaging or holding.  An acupoint is a concentrated point of energy along a meridian which is an energy channel that follows a particular path through the body.  There are 14 meridians corresponding to the organs of the body and connected to a set of emotions and behavioral themes. An example is the Kidney Meridian which is associated with anxiety, fear, trauma and calm and has 27 acupoints that begin at the bottom of the foot and end just below the collar bone on either side of the sternum.   In a study where an acupoint in the toe was stimulated a corresponding affect in blood flow occurred in the brain although no vascular, nerve or other physical connection was known to exist.(Cho, 1998)  In other words when an acupuncture point is stimulated it sends a signal to a corresponding part of the brain that then has a reaction. Hui, et al. at Harvard Medical School found that “preliminary results (based upon functional MRI readings) suggest that acupuncture needle manipulation modulates the activity of the limbic system and subcortical structures.” (Feinstein, 2004, p4)   In a study comparing acupressure (tapping) vs acupuncture (using needles) with panic patients it was found that 78.5% of the tapping group had positive results vs 50% of the acupuncture group using the same points. (Feinstein, 2004 p203) Acupressure stimulation appears to be more effective than acupuncture stimulation of the same points for certain problems.   In brain wave studies J. Andrake, MD illustrated how stimulating certain acupoints while activating an anxiety-evoking image sent signals to the brain that neutralized the affected brain wave patterns. (Feinstein, 2004)  The electrochemical shifts that occur correspond to a reduction in the strong emotional affect felt at the time ie. a reduction in the experience of fear connected to the phobic reaction.

In the 1990’s a pilot study was done in Uruguay and Argentina involving 5,000 subjects with a variety of problems who were equally divided into two groups: a meridian tapping group and a CBT/medication group.   At the close of treatment   “ ‘positive clinical responses’ ranging from complete relief  to partial relief to partial relief with relapses were found in 63% in the CBT/medication group and 90% in the meridian tapping group.” (Feinstein, 2004 p 202)  Complete freedom from symptoms were found in 76% in the meridian tapping group and 51% in the CBT/medication group.  The mean number of sessions for all trials varied accordingly: meridian tapping group 2-4 sessions; CBT/medication 12-18 sessions.  In a one year follow up the meridian tapping group were less prone to relapse as corroborated by independent raters assessments and brain imaging and neurotransmitter profiles. (Feinstein, 2004 p 202)

These meridian based techniques are invaluable in the treatment of trauma and dissociation.  They help to alleviate strong negative charges and affect in a very short amount of time, sometimes within minutes.  They are less complicated than other forms of therapy including other forms of Energy Psychotherapy.  They are generally self-administered and can be utilized in between sessions to help manage flashbacks, sleeping difficulties, strong emotional reactions and self-defeating behaviors.   It is not unusual for the person using these techniques to reduce their need for medication or if they are medication resistant for their bodies to find a way to accept and utilize medications. Furthermore,   there appears to be little or no negative side effects including no strong abreactions to previous experiences of trauma. They include:  

1.   The Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT):   one of the self administered modalities where a person holds some acupoints around the eyes and the back of the head while putting their attention on a 9 part cognitive structure.  Developed by Tapas Fleming, an acupuncturist, it quickly relieves the body of stress, including traumatic stress and takes the body to a state of relaxation. In a recent study done by Kaiser Permanente it was found that TAT was significantly helpful in aiding participants to maintain weight loss as compared to CBT and ChiQong (www.tatlife.com)

            2.  Thought Field Therapy(TFT) utilizes a series of tapping or holding of different acupoints on the meridians of the face, chest, and hands in different order depending on the problem being addressed.  It was originally developed by Roger J. Callahan and has since been adjusted by a number of Professionals including Fred Gallo and John Diepold.  (www.tftrx.com)

            3.  Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an offshoot of TFT and utilizes tapping on the acupoints in a particular order for all problems.  It was created by Gary Craig (www.emofree.com)

4.  REMAP (Reed Eye movement acupressure psychotherapy)  utilizes the acupoints on all the meridians. The meridian and order is determined by the problem and the person doing the work.  (www.remap.net) 

 

These techniques can easily be interwoven into existing conventional therapy or can be utilized as a treatment modality alone.  While there are thousands of anecdotal reports of treatment success from a variety of emotional, psychological and behavioral problems there are a number of clinical trials that point to the efficacy of EP techniques.  In one such preliminary clinical trial involving 31,400 subjects over 14years seen at 11 treatment centers in South America it was determined that anxiety related disorders were most helped by the meridian based psychotherapies.  This included ptsd, generalized anxiety, acute stress disorders, separation anxiety, and phobias as well as other emotional problems related to fear, shame, rejection, grief, guilt, anger, jealousy, love pain, frustration, loneliness, painful memories, impulse control and procrastination.  The more complicated problems including dissociation, personality disorders, depressive disorders, addictions and eating disorders are better served when energy based techniques are used as an adjunct.(Feinstein, 2004) But, current clinical reports are rapidly expanding and even these complicated disorders are being treated with energy-based psychotherapies. See the work of  Sparks, Diepold, Wakefield and Lammers who study and integrate the effects of meridian based psychotherapy  with addictions, dissociation, and  personality disorders.  (Gallo,2002; Diepold,2004; www.energypsych.org) 

As with any psychotherapy protocol the energy psychotherapies require training, some more than others and ongoing consultation regarding their use in psychotherapy. The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), the professional organization for Energy Psychology, has just developed a comprehensive training program for people interested in becoming certified in energy psychotherapy.  They offer two conferences a year, one in Toronto in November and one in the States in the Spring.  But there are a number of other organizations offering conferences & training including The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine [NICABM] which has a yearly conference in Mind/Body Medicine in Dec in Hilton Head, SC and The International Society for the Study of  Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM) which has been around for over 17 years.  In addition, each technique has trainings several times a year offered either by the developer of the technique or someone they have trained to teach their technique.  In the words of Bessel A. van der Kolk “Energy Psychology techniques and procedures can bring about remarkably rapid changes in the way people feel and move through the world” (2005).   It is a rapidly growing and evolving technology in the world of psychology and medicine that offers us the possibility for healing not just the management of symptoms. 

 

Written by Patricia Thatcher, LICSW  March 11, 2007

                         Contact:  patthatch@comcast.net  617-661-1277

                                         www.thelifeworkscenter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References & Resources:

 

Benor, D.  2001  Spiritual Healing:  Scientific validation of a healing revolution. Vision Publications

 

Cho, Z.H. 1998  New Findings of the correlation between acupoints and corresponding brain cortices using functional MRI.  Proceedings of National Academy of Science,  95, 2670-2673,

 

Diamond,John, MD.  1979  Your Body Doesn’t Lie.  Warner books: New York.

 

Diepold, Britt, and Bender, 2004  Evolving Thought Field Ttherapy: The Clinician's Handbook of Diagnoses, Treatment, and Theory ,  W.W. Norton Professional Books Energy Psychology series

 

Dossey, L. 1993 Healing Words:  The power of prayer and the practice of medicine.  Harper

 

Feinstein, Davis, PhD. 2004  Energy Psychology Interactive:Rapid Interventions for Lasting Change, Innersource, Ashland, Or

 

Fleming, Tapas, L.Ac. 1999  You Can Heal Now, TAT International, Redondo Beach, Ca 

Fleming, Tapas, L.Ac.  2006 TAT Professionals Manual, TAT International, Redondo Beach, Ca

                          web site www.tatlife.com  phone 877-828-4685

 

Gallo, Fred. 2002 Energy Psychology in Psychotherapy, Norton & Co

 

Harris, WS. Et al. 1999 A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit. Archives of Internal Medicine

 

Hui, K.K.S., Liu, J, Makris, N., Gollub, R.W., Chen, A.J.W., Moore, C.I., Kennedy, D.N., Rosen, B.R. and kwong, K.K. 2000 Acupuncture modulates the limbic system and subcortical gray structures of the human brain:  Evidence from fMRI studies in normal subjects.  Human Brain Mapping,  9(1): 13-25

 

Pert, Candace, PhD. 1997  Molecules of Emotion. Simon & Shuster,

 

WEB SITES:                 TAT:  www.tatlife.com,  1-877-828-4685

                                    www.thelifeworkscenter.com 617-661-1277

         &                                    EFT:  www.emofree.com local contact 781-643-7762

phone numbers              TFT trainingjdiepold@uscom.com   1-856-906-0339

                                    REMAP:  www.remap.net

                                    ACEP;  www.energypsych.com

                                    Emoto images:  (http://www.life-enthusiast.com/twilight/research_emoto.htm)