Energy psychology is a novel and controversial family of mind/body approaches used in
the treatment of a variety of psychological disorders including post-traumatic stress
disorder, anxiety, and depression. The approaches are based on combining concepts
from traditional Chinese medicine with simple cognitive interventions. Initial empirical
investigation supports claims of efficacy.
The aim of this study is to expand and enrich existing research about the use of energy
psychology in psychotherapy for trauma, through analysing the accounts of three
experienced psychotherapists. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was
applied to the central research question: How does Energy Psychology impact and inform the life
and work of experienced psychotherapists who use Energy Psychology in the treatment of trauma?
Four themes emerged: transformation; paradigm shift; state of presence; and spiritual
realization. The participants attributed significant changes in their understanding of
psychotherapeutic change, personal philosophy, and overall contentment in life to their
experience of using energy psychology, leading to the central hypothesis of this study –
energy psychology has the potential to catalyse a process of transformation that results in
a lived experience of serenity and flourishing.
Two new understandings of underlying mechanisms that contribute to the efficacy of
energy psychology are theorized: 1) energy psychology shares mechanisms in common
with meditative practices that may contribute to positive impacts on autonomic
dysregulation; 2) energy psychology provides a manual technique that supports the
process known as focusing. Non-specific factors that are common to many forms of
psychotherapy also contribute to efficacy.
Energy psychology is a suitable treatment in evidence based practice for clients
presenting with trauma who: 1) do not favour or may experience re-traumatization
during exposure or reliving experiences; 2) are at risk of decompensation due to flooding
of traumatic material in the early stages of treatment. Author keywords: Energy psychology, psychotherapy, trauma, PTSD, humanistic, psychodynamic, IPA, EFT, TFT, TAT