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Review of "Energy Psychology Interactive"

By David Feinstein
Innersource, 2004
Review by Phil Mollon, Ph.D. MET. on Jul 13th 2004
Energy Psychology Interactive

Recent years have seen the emergence of astonishingly effective new therapies for psychological disturbances – and although there has been much media publicity,  'energy psychology' is still unknown to many psychologists working in the mental health field. A very brief summary of the history and development of this group of approaches is as follows. Chiropractic was combined with principles from acupuncture, giving rise to kinesiology (1970s and 80s), an approach that used muscle testing to reveal disturbances in the body's energy field and states of ill health in particular organs of the body. A pioneering psychiatrist, John Diamond, then began to apply kinesiology to psychological problems (since the 1980s). One of his students, a clinical psychologist called Roger Callahan, adapted this approach, devising sequences of acupressure tapping for particular psychological problems; he called this 'thought field therapy' (developed during the 1990s). A simplification of this was developed by Callahan's student, Gary Craig, called 'The Emotional Freedom Technique' (see www.emofree.com). Over the same period a whole variety of other, somewhat lesser known, approaches were developed. British developments can be found at www.theamt.com, www.emotrance.com, and www.passionforhealth.com. The emerging research suggests that these methods are very effective indeed, extremely rapid, and thoroughly gentle.

In my own practice, although I am a psychoanalyst and still do a small amount of traditional analytic therapy, these days I mostly prefer to treat people using energy methods, often combined with EMDR. I have concluded that therapies based purely on talk, whether psychoanalytic or cognitive, simply do not work very well, although they may be helpful to a degree in providing insight or in illuminating recurrent constellations of cognition and emotion. The basic principle is that emotional experience appears to become patterned into the body's energy system. When the energy system is stimulated, while the person thinks of the trauma or troubling emotion, then this patterning is released – usually very rapidly. In purely talk-based therapies, by contrast, the patterning in the energy system is unchanged, with the result that the affect tends just to be shunted around the psychosomatic system and never fundamentally resolved. This does not mean that the knowledge and expertise of traditional therapies are irrelevant, but these become enormously more effective when combined with energy methods.

Because the field is so new, it is not easy for newcomers to orient themselves amongst the bewildering spectrum of unfamiliar approaches, terms and concepts. A structured learning process is often not easily found. This is where Energy Psychology Interactive, a book and CD, is of immense value. David Feinstein is a clinical psychologist, who became aware of these approaches through being married to Donna Eden, a well-known figure in Energy Medicine. In consultation with 25 other leaders in the field of energy psychology, Feinstein has written a comprehensive, clear, and sophisticated guide to theory and practice, covering virtually all known aspects of these approaches. Thus the reader is taken systematically through the sequence of energy checking, tests and treatments for 'neurological disorganisation' and 'psychological reversals', the principles of meridian energy treatments, discussion of the nature of subtle energy, and extensive reviews of relevant research. Principles of ethics, informed consent, and the limitations of energy approaches are considered. A preliminary study is reported, involving many double blind trials in South America, with 31,400 patients over a 14-year period. The results showed greater and much more rapid improvements in those patients treated with energy methods, compared to those treated with CBT. Although these kinds of results are remarkable (but exactly what those of us who use the methods have come to expect), the book is written in a sober, critical and thoughtful style.

One of the most interesting features of energy methods is the identification of 'psychological reversal', whereby a person's energy runs contrary to the conscious intention. In addition normal values will be reversed, so that the body registers good as bad, and vice versa. This is similar to the psychoanalytic notion of negative therapeutic reaction, but seems to me a more useful concept – especially since it can be corrected quite simply. Another unusual idea is that of 'neurological disorganisation', involving subtle forms of incoherence and imbalance between different parts of the nervous system. Unless this disorganization is corrected, using simple exercises, the energy treatment will not work.

The main book is included on the accompanying CD, which is also packed with additional information. The CD is interactive and contains numerous video clips showing different exercises and therapeutic procedures, as well as a variety of charts and client-handouts. Also available is a valuable self-help guide for use by patients. Of particular importance is the way this package does not simplify the field, nor promote just one energy method. It is perhaps worth noting that on the back cover of the book is an endorsement by leading trauma researcher, Bessel van der Kolk (amongst a number of other distinguished authorities). As well as his deep knowledge of the human energy system, Feinstein's background in clinical psychology is readily apparent, in his intelligent, balanced, scientific, and responsible approach to an exciting and rapidly developing realm.


© 2004 Phil Mollon


Phil Mollon Ph.D. MET., Psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and clinical psychologist, Head of Psychology and Psychotherapy Services, Lister Hospital, Stevenage, UK