What energy psychology methods cannot do.
Energy psychology practitioners find that these methods are
extraordinarily effective, bringing about beneficial change with a speed and
ease that is quite beyond what can be achieved with purely talk-based methods.
The metaphor of a ‘quantum leap’, an overused cliché, is actually very apt in
the case of energy psychology, since these methods do appear to access a
dimensional level above that of more conventional psychotherapy – as I have
outlined more fully in my article/page on this website ‘Higher Dimensional
However, as always with methods and concepts that are
relatively new, there is a danger of over-enthusiasm and over-extension of the
framework. No matter how wonderful the methods of energy psychology are, they
cannot, on their own, resolve every problem. Many people with deeply entrenched
emotional or psychiatric conditions, including PTSD, have a variety of
associated severe problems which help to maintain their distressing condition.
These may include: social isolation; financial problems; family problems;
ongoing abusive relationships; involvements with police and the criminal
justice system, housing problems and continual exposure to crime or antisocial
behaviour by neighbours; physical health conditions; altered brain function;
lack of employment; chronic avoidance of normal social life. They may have
given up on hopes of resuming a place as a viable autonomous member of society,
and instead have reduced their inner identity to that of ‘chronic psychiatric
patient’ – which may also have become the basis of whatever welfare payments
they are entitled to. In addition, some people’s experiences have been such
that they have acquired deeply distrustful attitudes and beliefs, and may feel
that it is not safe to modify these. Within the energy psychology framework,
such a stance would show up as a strongly maintained ‘psychological reversal’.
So much of a person’s life may have become organised around their psychiatric
condition that simply reducing distress and anxiety through energy psychology
methods will achieve little – such temporary alleviation as occurs is likely to
be followed by a reversion or even exacerbation of their problems.
If we ignore, or minimise, these complex factors that
sustain a mental health condition, we are not doing justice to the severity and
extent of many patient’s problems. Energy psychology methods have a place, but
these must be embedded in a broader appreciation of the multiple factors that
contribute to depletions in mental health.
What energy psychology modalities do, by and large, is clear
the patterning in the body’s energy fields that underpin states of distress and
dysfunctional patterns of thought and behaviour. They cannot, on their own,
alter features of the person’s life circumstances that contribute to, or
maintain, the distress. Moreover, a person will not easily relinquish or modify
core beliefs and attitudes that are felt to be necessary for survival.
These considerations are often not fully acknowledged in the
marketing and conference presentations of energy psychology. Much of this stems
from the commercial marketing orientation of American society, from where
energy psychology largely originates. The emphasis is upon selling a product –
this product being a therapeutic service, a workshop, a book or other teaching
materials, or a conference. As a result, the limitations of the product, its
similarity with (or derivation from) other products, and the need for it to be
combined with other forms of work, may not be emphasised. It should perhaps be
acknowledged that these points may apply equally well at times to the marketing
of some other psychological products, such as cognitive behavioural therapies.
Energy psychology methods do not remove the need to address
all the multiple factors that good psychotherapeutic clinicians would address
when using other approaches. The client’s social and economic realities, their
beliefs and thought patterns, their physical health and brain state, all need
to be considered alongside the application of energy psychology methods.
Whilst energy psychology methods often do work ‘like magic’,
there is no magic therapy that will make everything alright. Human life is
pervaded by pain, existential anxiety, uncertainty, ambivalence – and all the malign
phenomena Freud denoted by his concept of the ‘death instinct’. Of course, it
is often tempting to forget these disagreeable aspects of reality – but to do
so is to engage in an essentially manic form of enthusiasm that, in the long
run, will not serve our field well.