Energy Psychology: A Weird Technique That Really Helps Pain
Energy Psychology: A Weird Technique That Really Helps PainMay 19th, 2019 by Cindy Perlin, LCSW
Pain is complex. Sometimes there is obvious tissue injury and/or inflammation, sometimes not. Different people can experience very different pain levels in the face of similar injuries. Chronic pain patients experience better days and worse days, often without obvious cause. People who have experienced psychological trauma, particularly chronic childhood trauma, are more likely to develop chronic illnesses, including chronic pain, and less likely to benefit from back surgery. A common link underlying all of these may be the role of emotional energy in generating pain. A type of treatment called energy psychology can process this energy to reduce pain and improve health and emotional wellbeing.
The Unprocessed Energy of Emotion Contributes Significantly to Chronic Pain and Illness
Fear, anger, worry, guilt, frustration and other negative emotions can greatly exacerbate pain. Sometimes we are very aware of these feelings and sometimes they are not in conscious awareness. Either way these not-fully-processed emotions can be making pain worse. Sometimes what is driving our emotional pain is very old but when we think about it the feelings are still very intense. Sometimes what is disturbing us just happened.
With energy psychology techniques the emotional disturbance can be processed and released within minutes. For instance, I worked recently with a 72 year old woman whose abortion 50 years earlier had consumed her with guilt and regret every day since and appeared to be fueling her pain and other ailments. Within the same session that she first revealed this problem, we were able to process her emotions in relation to it and she finally felt at peace. A 55 year old client I worked with had been negatively affected when she was 17 by her uncle’s attempted murder of her mother. Within one session of processing that memory with energy psychology, she was able to feel calmer and safer in the world and her physical symptoms improved.
With energy psychology techniques, you can also focus directly on the pain, even if you don’t know what is fueling it, and obtain relief. I have a history of back and neck pain that was once disabling. I have many avenues now for addressing this pain. When nothing physical I try works, I often focus on my pain with energy psychology techniques. Often when I do I realize that something in my life was generating an emotional disturbance that was out of my awareness and was triggering the pain. Doing the technique always helps.
This Technique Is Well Supported By Research
The most well-known energy psychology technique is emotional freedom technique (EFT). Energy psychology theory proposes that psychological problems are caused by disturbed patterns of energy in the mind/body communication system. As of 2014, more than 60 research studies had been published on energy psychology techniques, 59 showing significant positive results.
Energy psychology techniques combine focused awareness on traumatic memories or physical or emotional distress with stimulation of the human energy field. In EFT, acupuncture energy meridians are tapped at specific points while the client focuses on a disturbing situation or memory. Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown that stimulating these acupuncture points affects the release of brain chemicals in ways that reduce pain and shut off the fight-or-flight response activated by emotional stress.
A randomized controlled study of veterans with PTSD found that six sessions of EFT coaching, in addition to primary care, reduced pain by an average of 41%. Anxiety and depression were also significantly reduced. The benefits of EFT treatment were maintained at the six-month follow-up.
EFT treatment for chronic tension-type headache sufferers was evaluated in a randomized controlled study. Participants were taught the EFT method and instructed to use it twice daily for two months. The frequency and intensity of the headaches were significantly reduced in the intervention group. Quality of life and sleep also significantly improved.
Another randomized controlled study examined the use of EFT for women with fibromyalgia who were out of work for at least three months. The treatment group participated in an eight-week EFT program administered over the Internet. Compared to a waitlist control group, the treated women had significantly less pain, anxiety, depression, and pain catastrophizing. The treated women also had significantly better vitality, social function, activity levels, and mental health, and fewer stress symptoms.
A study of 194 health care professionals from varied occupations—including physicians, nurses, psychotherapists, chiropractors, psychiatrists, alternative medicine practitioners, and allied professionals—evaluated whether EFT had an effect on anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms. Participants engaged in a 90-minute EFT demonstration and self-application. On follow-up, three months later, overall symptom severity had dropped by 34%. Pain scores dropped by 68%; traumatic memories intensity dropped by 83%; and cravings dropped by 83%. More frequent subsequent EFT use was associated with a larger decrease in severity of symptoms at follow-up.
In his book The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief, Nick Ortner, a leader in the EFT field, reported that he has seen thousands of people heal from chronic pain of all kinds using EFT. In his book, he described individuals who’ve healed from phantom limb pain, fibromyalgia, chronic tooth pain/infection, and many other types of pain. The EFT technique is easily learned and can be readily practiced at home. If a problem is very complex or the person has been severely traumatized, it is advisable, at least initially, to work with a mental health professional when applying the treatment; this will yield better results.
You Can Learn To Do EFT On Your Own Or With The Help Of A Mental Health Practitioner
A good resource for learning the technique and how to apply it for chronic pain relief is the aforementioned book, The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief. The book gives specific instructions for applying the technique at home by focusing on the pain itself as well as possible underlying issues and emotions. A more general guide to EFT with instructions for personal use is available free at www.emofree.com.
To learn more about alternative pain treatment and keep up to date on the latest pain news, please sign up for “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments Newsletter” and get a free PDF, “The Five Best Self-Help Tools for Becoming Pain Free” HERE