Phil Mollon Ph.D. DCEP
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 Healing’ [click].
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.