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Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy

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People like to talk. We know that talking to an attentive and thoughtful listener can be helpful in clarifying conscious and unconscious feelings, thoughts, and motivations. But is talk enough? The complex physiology of anxiety and traumatic stress reactions is often stubbornly persistent, despite therapeutic exploration in both conscious and unconscious areas of the mind. In the case of severe trauma, talking can stir up the emotions and associated bodily disturbance without providing any resolution - sometimes leaving clients feeling worse. The developing field of energy psychology offers an entirely new perspective and gamut of techniques for locating where these traumatic patterns are encoded. They are not in the mind - but in the energy system at the interface of psyche and soma. By addressing these realms concurrently, a powerful therapeutic synergy emerges that allows rapid and deep shifts in the patterns of distress that drive the psychosomatic system. Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy [PEP] provides a window into the deep sources and structures of emotional currents that flow through the mind. From the energetic vantage point, we can survey the parts, the multiple levels, and the hidden programmes of the psychosomatic system. We have access to realms that are not available through the psyche alone. The author has bridged the diverse fields of "thought field therapy" energy psychology and psychoanalysis to provide a novel overview that is both practical and theoretical.

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CHAPTER 1: Introductory remarks-and rationale for psychoanalytic energy psychotherapy

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“…when I began using my new cure, I wasn't sure it would work. I certainly was not prepared for its spectacular effect. I was amazed. More amazed, possibly, than my patients.” [Callahan, 1985, p. 36]

Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy is the outcome of one psychoanalyst's encounter with the field known generically as ‘energy psychology’, which reveals how the conflicts and traumas active within the psyche are encoded as information within the body's energy system. It is inspired primarily by the remarkable and far-reaching work of Dr Roger Callahan in his development of Thought Field Therapy. There were important figures before Dr Callahan in the lineage—notably George Goodheart, the founder of Applied Kinesiology, who first explored muscle testing as a source of information about the body's organs and functions, and psychiatrist Dr John Diamond, who extended this enquiry into the emotional and psychological domains—and many have built substantially on his work since. However, in my perception, he remains the principle figure to whom we owe gratitude for discovering how to identify and treat the perturbations in the energy field that cause psychological and other forms of disturbance, and for distilling this into a highly effective and simple procedure that is easily taught. Like almost all who learn to use Thought Field Therapy and its derivatives, I am compelled to the conclusion that purely talk-based forms of psychotherapy, although not without value, are simply not able to engage effectively with the realm in which the patterns of emotional distress are encoded—the area at the interface of the psyche and the soma, the body's energy field. For this reason, I encourage psychotherapists to consider the implications of TFT and the wider domain of energy psychology.

 

CHAPTER 2: The essence of energy psychology

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Whilst there a re m a n y varia nts a nd co mplexitie s of energy psycholog y with it s roots in applied kinesiolo g y a nd the ?pione erin work o f psychia tr ist John D iamond a nd clinical psychologist Roger Callahan, it is possible to describe the essence of the approach rather simply and succinctly as follows. The psychody-namics and traumas of the mind are manifest also in the body's energy system, with its meridians, chakras and other traditionally recognised components. When a person thinks of a target anxiety or trauma, the subjective experience of this in the mind and body is accompanied by a patterning in the energy system that can be detected by muscle testing. If this pattern that is manifest in the energy system is eliminated, by tapping or holding a sequence of meridian or chakra points, the subjective disturbance in the mind and body (the experience of anxiety or distressing emotion) is also eliminated.

It is this phenomenon of the ‘thought field’—the informational field of influence in the energy system—that is the key to the astonishing speed and effectiveness of energy psychology methods. Roger Callahan, building on the slightly earlier work of John Diamond, brought for the first time an awareness and understanding of the thought field, enabling rapid resolution of many emotional problems to an extent never previously imagined possible. Without this awareness and understanding, work purely at the mental level is relatively inefficient and ineffective. Conversely work purely with the body's energy system, without linking this to the thought field, is also relatively ineffective in relieving emotional problems. It is the linking of thought and energy that provides the powerful synergistic combination.

 

CHAPTER 3: History: how did we get to modern energy psychology?

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“Most of my psychiatric colleagues are still giving electro-shock, still poisoning their patients with drugs, and still devoting years to life-energy depleting psychotherapy. In their hearts they know it is not really working. But they are too frightened to change, too frightened to explore the wonderful new ways that are available.” [John Diamond M.D., 1986, p. 70]

On first encounter, for those steeped in conventional verbal forms of psychotherapy, the procedures of energy psychology are likely to seem so utterly astonishing—even bizarre— that it may seem impossible to imagine how anyone could have dreamt up such a preposterous method. Did some unusually creative person wake up one day with the thought that perhaps asking people to tap on their body, whilst humming and counting, might cure them of anxiety and other distress? Was there a single eccentric genius to whom we owe eternal thanks for this gift to mankind of energy psychology? The reality is more mundane—and all falls into place when the history is appreciated. All of it was developed one step at a time, each person building on what had been done before. No single person grasped the whole picture in one fell swoop. A number of notable individuals did make substantial contributions, but many practitioners all around the world have played a part in developing the versions of energy psychology that we know today.

 

CHAPTER 4: Some simple beginnings-tapping points and procedures, using EFT as a derivative of Thought Field Therapy

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A comment on the differences between EFT and TFT.

I learned EFT before I learned TFT—and found EFT to be the most extraordinarily effective, rapid, and gentle form of emotional healing that I had encountered in 30 years of clinical practice. Later I studied Thought Field Therapy, and other derivatives of Applied Kinesiology, and learned more detail of the human energy system, how it encodes trauma, and how to read the information written in the energy system. Although EFT is a derivative of TFT, it has established its own particular line of enquiry and skill, focused less on the details of how the dysfunctional information is encoded in the energy system and more upon identifying and targeting the content of the core beliefs, emotions, and traumas—the implicit psychosomatic structures lying beneath the client's presenting problems. Whilst often perceived as competing technical and theoretical perspectives, with a certain element of mutual bad feeling, I believe TFT and EFT are complementary.

 

CHAPTER 5: Basic procedures in an energy psychology session

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Despite differences between the various energy psychology approaches, it is possible to outline some general principles and procedures that may guide the energy psychology practitioner. The account provided here is not intended as a substitute for training in appropriate workshops and supervised practice. Instead, the purpose is to help broaden the perspective of those who have already begun some degree of training and practice in an energy psychology approach.

The first step is to listen in the normal way—to listen to the history and nuances of the client's discourse, allowing the recurrent themes, conflicts, significant traumas, and childhood interpersonal patterns to emerge. Whilst listening on many levels, it is possible to identify potential targets for TFT or other energy treatment. Such targets might include: a specific recent trauma; a specific childhood trauma; a pattern of traumas; a particular anxiety; a dynamic conflict; a core belief deriving from traumas or other profoundly discouraging experiences. Any of these may also need to be broken down into various constituent elements or aspects.

 

CHAPTER 6: Neurological (energetic) disorganisation

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Whilst psychological reversal acts as a clear and coherent prohibition on therapeutic progress, the phenomenon known as ‘neurological disorganisation’ acts to make the process fuzzy and inefficient. Clients who do not respond easily to TFT and related methods, or who show a return of a previously successfully treated problem, or who repeatedly regenerate psychological reversals after they have been corrected, often show this disorganisation. It can result from environmental or endogenous ‘energy toxins’, as well as constitutional and nutritional factors or subtle structural damage. In certain ways the disorganisation does appear to be neurological, since it can be associated with some of the subtle disturbances of brain function, such as dyslexia, ADHD, clumsiness, right-left confusions etc. However, it also seems to involve an energetic disorganisation. For example, muscle tests may be inconclusive, giving little distinction between strong and weak responses, or between the polarities of palm down and palm up over head. The person suffering such disorganisation is in a state of inherent confusion, lacking a clear sense of goal or purpose, and experiencing chronic underlying frustration over an inability to think coherently. If one listens to such patients psychoanalytically, there will often be a lack of coherent themes emerging, and a difficulty will be experienced in penetrating to any depth in the free-associative material. Instead, there will be a repetitive and affectively shallow discourse that seems to lead nowhere and does not deepen. Messages appear to be scrambled. The client may experience anxiety and feel spaced out or disoriented, with depersonalisation or derealisation.

 

CHAPTER 7: Psychological reversal and associated resistances

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“I found to my chagrin that a large number of my clients got weak when they thought of getting better and stronger when they thought of getting worse. No wonder psychotherapy is so difficult!” (Callahan, 1985, p. 49).

As in the case of the psychoanalytic emphasis upon ‘resistance’, often the crucial work of energy psychotherapy is to address psychological reversal. If this is active and uncorrected, the therapy will be completely unsuccessful. It is not a matter of slowing the work down, but of a complete block on any energetic movement. This vividly observable difference between a state in which change is permitted and one in which it is internally forbidden is rather interesting—one which would be largely obscured if working with less efficient methods. Often reversals are very specific, and correction requires rather precise wording—somewhat akin to unlocking a computer code. Reversals seem to have both an energetic and a mental cognitive-emotional dimension, as well as often expressing psychodynamic conflict. The energetic level is readily apparent through muscle testing—strong to “I want to keep this problem” and weak to “I want to be over this problem”. Thus the resistance can be literally palpated and seen in the energy system.

 

CHAPTER 8: Muscle testing (energy checking or body dowsing)

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“With a simple, at-home test of true/false, all the dictators, emperors, demagogues of history would have fallen. If one simply places a picture of Hitler in a manila envelope and has a child hold it over their solar plexus, the child's arm goes weak…

All the slaughters of mankind down through the centuries have been the result of force, to which the only antidote is Power. Force is based on falsehood; power is based solely on truth. ‘Evil’ loses its hold when it is revealed; that is its vulnerable weak side, its Achilles’ heal, which is exposed to everyone. Falsity collapses when it is exposed for what it is. It does not take the U.S. government, the CIA, the FBI, spy satellites, or computers to discern the obvious—the arm of an innocent five-year-old child has the only real might on earth—the power of truth itself is invincible and requires no sacrifice.” [David Hawkins, 2001, The Eye of the I, pp. 44-45]

The principles of muscle testing, as developed originally within Applied Kinesiology,1 adapted by John Diamond in Behavioural Kinesiology, and further developed by Roger Callahan in Thought Field Therapy, form the basis of contemporary energy psychology. All the crucial information was originally derived and validated through muscle testing. Muscle testing provides the ground on which the methods rest. There is indeed a reassuring physicality and immediacy about muscle testing. The information or feedback is provided instantly so that one can always know whether or not one is on the right track. By contrast, much conventional talk-based psychotherapy is rather vague and woolly as to whether a line of enquiry or interpretation is helpful or not.

 

CHAPTER 9: ‘Parts’ and programmes-and other elements of the structure and functioning of the psycho-energetic system

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Muscle testing indicates that the human psychosomatic energy system is often organised in ‘parts’. Very commonly a person will muscle test strong to “I want to be over this problem” and weak to “all parts of me want to be over this problem”. This is, in fact, so common that I now suspect that in more or less all cases where there has been extensive childhood interpersonal trauma, the psychosomatic-energy system has evolved protectively into semi-dissociated ‘parts’. This does not mean that all such people have a dissociative identity disorder (DID), although the same phenomena are even more marked in that condition. The fragmentation into parts seems to be a typical reaction to severe interpersonal trauma, where no escape or soothing from trusted caregivers is available. It is somewhat analogous to the way that an injured sea vessel may be protected from sinking by sequestering and sealing off an area which has been holed. The ‘part’ experiencing the trauma will be sacrificed in order to enable the rest of the system to continue its life and development. This means then that the part containing the trauma does not participate in the main development of the rest of the system. That child part may then continue to believe the trauma continues. It is trapped in the trauma and frozen in time. The idea of being over the trauma may be perceived by that part as equivalent to complete abandonment or obliteration of that part. Another perception may be that being free of the trauma may mean being without appropriate anxiety and awareness of interpersonal danger.

 

CHAPTER 10: Energy toxins

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A friend called to see me in a state of great anxiety. She had a sophisticated understanding of methods of energy psychol- ogy and had been frantically applying these. Her assumption was that she had got into a state of panic about the prospect of her daughter leaving home imminently—and feared there must be profound and complex layers of psychological conflict and trauma behind her distress. This was not an unreasonable hypothesis. I listened to her and the thought came to me that she needed to do the collar bone breathing technique. Slightly surprised by this intuition, but willing to go along with it, I shared the thought and we both did the exercise. Two minutes later she reported feeling completely relaxed. Her anxiety had entirely disappeared. Wondering what had caused the state of neurological and energetic disorganisation that had been corrected by the collar bone breathing, I asked if she had been using any new perfume or other products in the home. She said she had been using some new foot cream—rather fancy, expensive and aromatic cream. We muscle tested her as she thought of this cream—her arm collapsed with no strength at all. She realised that her state of anxiety coincided precisely with the period that she had been using the cream. Moreover, it struck her that she had been feeling particularly anxious at home, where the cream was kept. This was a vivid example for both of us of the significance of energy toxins in some cases. What had appeared to be a psychological disturbance, rooted perhaps in deep anxieties and childhood insecurities, turned out to be caused directly by an energy toxin that had been causing havoc with her system.

 

CHAPTER 11: Working with the chakras

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“Of course you must take a case history. Of course you must perform a clinical examination, and of course you must take notes, but, and this is a very important but, at some point you must stop all this busy ‘doing’. You must be still. You must, in effect, just ‘be’, and in that state of ‘being’ you must listen to what the patient's body, mind, and spirit are trying to whisper to you in a language you will only understand if you allow yourself to tune in.” [Charman, 2006, p. xv]

Whilst Thought Field Therapy and many of its derivatives address primarily the meridian system, it is also possible to work with the energy centres of the chakra system. Dr Callahan does indeed teach, in his Step B trainings, the adjunctive use of the chakra system as an occasional additional step after working with the meridian system. Others, particularly in the Seemorg Matrix approach, developed by Asha Clinton, work primarily with the chakras—whilst yet others, such as Dorothea Hover-Kramer (2002) work with meridians, chakras, and the biofield in a broad integrated energy psychotherapy.

 

CHAPTER 12: Some thoughts on Tapas Acupressure Technique [TAT]

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“That was amazing—I saw a door opening in my head— loads of stuff was pouring out—like angels flying! That was the most powerful thing I've ever done!”

[A comment by a woman having just done a couple of minutes of a few brief steps of TAT on her bitterness about her dead father who had abandoned her at age 4; previously she had used other energy psychology methods extensively without such dramatic effects.]

It is in a mood of rev erence tha t I b egin wr itin g about T AT —the in spired meth od de veloped b y C a lifor nia ac upuncturi st Tapas F le ming . This is an awesome a n d prof ound ap proach to emotional healing—startling in its seeming simplicity yet full of mystery at its core. The client holds two hands around the head in a particular pose, whilst focusing on a sequence of thoughts and perspectives in relation to the trauma, anxiety, physical illness, or other form of distress. It is then as if the person's own hands become transformed into those of a healer, as the mental, physical, and energetic residues of pain are gently cleared.

 

CHAPTER 13: The energy perspective

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Many practitioners from conventional psychotherapeutic backgrounds find energy psychological methods intriguing, perhaps exciting, but also problematic. The ‘problem’ appears to arise from the way in which a method such as Thought Field Therapy, or its derivatives, is not only a novel therapeutic technique, but also works with what is for many people a novel realm of reality—the energy system. Some mistakenly believe that these methods are based on strange theories about mysterious energy fields. They are not. The energy psychological methods are based on investigations, using simple and replicable procedures, of that area of reality that is known as the energy system. It is not a hypothetical realm but one that is palpable and observable—and when certain simple procedures are followed, a distressed, traumatised, or anxious person will experience relief. Muscle testing, using routine kinesiological methods, readily reveals the energy system, the information it contains, and the profound intelligence manifest in it. It is common for people to be astonished on witnessing such demonstrations for the first time, and yet for energy psychological practitioners this realm is part of our ordinary reality. By contrast, most of the ‘official’ disciplines of knowledge and science have yet to embrace this.

 

CHAPTER 14: Freud, Reich, and bioelectrical energy-from libido to Qi

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“In a meeting of the inner circle, Freud counselled foresight. We had to be prepared, he said, that one of these days the psychotherapy of the neuroses would meet a dangerous competitor, a future organotherapy. Nobody could as yet have an idea as to what it would be like, but one could already hear the footsteps of its exponents behind one, he said. Psychoanalysis would have to be placed upon an organic foundation.” [Wilhelm Reich, 1960, p. 54]

A theme running throughout Freud's writings was the interface between the psychical and the somatic. One aspect of this interface is the unconscious mind. Thus, in a letter to Georg Groddeck, dated 1917, concerned with organic disease, Freud wrote:

“In my essay on the Ucs which you mention you will find an inconspicuous note: ‘An additional important prerogative of the Ucs will be mentioned in another context.’ I will divulge to you what this note refers to: The assertion that the Ucs exerts on somatic processes an influence of far greater plastic power than the conscious act ever can.” [E. L. Freud, 1961, p. 323].

 

CHAPTER 15: Is the ‘energy’ concept necessary? A cognitive model of Emotional Freedom Technique

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The follow ing article w as written as a bas i s f or discussi on wi thin N HS settings, w here the concept o f ‘energy’ h as ap pear ed troubling a nd pro blem at ic for so m e people. It seems that a minority of individuals react with alarm and anxiety to the idea of subtle energy and other phenomena that are not easy to measure. The quality of argument driven by these emotional reactions is usually poor, often consisting of little more than the assertion that the method “sounds wacky”.1 Nevertheless, it seemed a valuable exercise to explore to what extent it is possible to frame an energy psychology method entirely within concepts that are familiar in other forms of psychological therapy. This outline of a cognitive model manages to avoid any reference to purported energy systems. As a model, it works reasonable well as a plausible account of EFT. It cannot, however, take account of the energy phenomena (nor the derived theory) on which Thought Field Therapy is based—the clear encoding of a thought-emotion structure in the energy field of the body.

 

CHAPTER 16: Energy psychology perspectives and therapies for borderline and other personality disorders

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Like many diagnostic concepts in psychiatry, that of ‘personality disorder’ is often used rather loosely. Usually the term refers to psychopathology that pervades the personality and which renders psychological therapy of whatever kind, difficult or prolonged. Whilst many presenting problems will respond rapidly and satisfactorily to treatment with Thought Field Therapy or related methods, in some cases this does not occur and we find that the work is complex and difficult.

Sometimes, as Dr Callahan emphasises, the complex and stubborn nature of a problem may be due to individual energy toxins, which have to be identified and neutralised before progress is made. The role of energy toxins in generating anxiety, depression, anger, negative and self-destructive attitudes, should not be underestimated. Moreover, sensitivities or addictions to internally generated hormones (and perhaps other naturally occurring biochemical products), such as adrenaline, may play a part in many entrenched psychological problems and it can be crucial to address these.

 

CHAPTER 17: A systematic review of the evidence base for energy psychology methods

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In this review, studies of all varieties of meridian-tapping and somato-sensory stimulation that are used to disrupt dysfunctional cognitive-emotional patterns are outlined. However, there are a number of differing theories and hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying the observed therapeutic effects—and, indeed, different methods may operate through slightly different, albeit related, processes. These competing hypotheses are a matter of ongoing debate and research.

Summary

•  Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is based on Dr Roger Callahan's observation that when particular sequences of acupressure points are tapped an associated anxiety or other psychological distress is eliminated; the roots of this discovery lay within the field of Applied Kinesiology. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a derivative of TFT, is a widely used method of rapid emotional desensitisation, with similarities to EMDR, which also contains a tapping procedure. Many EMDR practitioners incorporate EFT and related methods into their work. All the components of EFT are found in other widely used psychological methods. The modes of action of EFT and TFT, although related, may be somewhat different. In addition to TFT and EFT, there are many other approaches within the broad field of energy psychology.

 

CHAPTER 18: Case studies

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The following case studies have been selected for their illustration of a variety of clinical presentations and how these might be addressed using energy psychology methods. Some are lengthy and detailed accounts, whilst others are brief vignettes. The first three are contributed by other practitioners and clients.

Facilitation of work with complex problems and fragmented or dissociated self-states

In work with some of the most profoundly compromised states of self, involving fragmentation or dissociation, the judicious use of energy psychology interventions at certain points can facilitate and ease the process to a remarkable degree.

Some time ago I was in my office reading the referral letter regarding this patient whom I will call B. I was about to meet her for the first time and could not help but wonder who she really was. Her personal history questionnaire gave the impression of her being a very young child. There were various diagnoses stated in the reports—psychotic depression, severe anxiety, self harm, social phobia and ME. There was very little information about her family background and upbringing; mainly just details regarding her recent engagement with the mental health services. What I could gather was that B was a 20-year-old white European and the eldest of three children. Her parents came to live in England, when B was 7 because of her father's job. B could not remember much of her childhood, but stated that it must have been a happy one. Although the family planned to go back to their country of origin at some point, this did not happen as they all settled in and voted in favour of staying in England permanently. After passing her A level exams, B took a gap year which she spent with her grandparents and got to know her extended family. Her parents stated that B enjoyed the gap year, she returned home feeling excited and full of good memories. The onset of her depressive symptoms started whilst at University and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Nobody noticed what was going on for her at the time and B could not recall any significant event that may have triggered the onset. She in fact could not remember much, her parents gave most of the information and also brought her to the appointment.

 

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