Therapy Used For Trauma, Chronic Pain Snubbed By Establishment

What does it take for the American Psychological Association to bless an alternative type of therapy?

It’s a question that Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Rick Leskowitz, director of the Integrative Medicine Project at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, has been asking for years.

Dr. Leskowitz sent me an email after I wrote about yoga for treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He said that another approach, called Energy Psychology, a kind of psychological acupuncture without needles, is “the most impressive intervention I’ve encountered in 25 years of work.” I was intrigued.

From Facebook Fight to Alternative Treatment

One of his patients, Nicole McCarthy, told me that after she was hit by a car — intentionally, by a teenage driver — and suffered a traumatic brain injury, among other damage, Energy Psychology was the most effective treatment to heal her emotionally. McCarthy, a 41-year-old dancer, said the therapy allowed her to talk about the accident for the first time without hyperventilating and crying, and to overcome the deep fear and psychic trauma associated with the hit-and-run. (It occurred after a Facebook feud between her daughter’s teenage friends spiraled out of control). Just one session, she said, “was a life-altering experience for the better. It’s a tool I will use for the rest of my life.”

Dr. Leskowitz cites his own clinical experience and a growing number of studies showing the benefits of the practice. For instance, two recent studies involving combat veterans found that after six sessions of intensive Energy Psychology, the vets show marked relief from their PTSD symptoms.

The APA Just Says No

But the American Psychological Association says the science behind the therapy still isn’t adequate, and it won’t grant continuing education credits for training in Energy Psychology. This, even as the treatment has shown positive results in clinical studies on a range of stressed out and traumatized people: orphaned survivors of the Rwandan genocide, high school kids who experience debilitating stress before a test, patients with chronic pain and phobias.

Here’s an overview of the work to date and several peer-reviewed studies here, here and here. (Reading them makes me think: Wouldn’t it be nice to offer some psychological relief to the record number of over-stressed college freshmen, or the large number of war vets with PTSD or other mental illness?)

Energy Psychology, which is also called Emotional Freedom Technique, or just “tapping” uses exposure and desensitization to “defuse” the painful emotions associated with the traumatic incident. One recent study describes a veteran undergoing this treatment as he pairs a traumatic memory with a statement of self-acceptance:

“Even though I had to shoot the kid who ran toward my Humvee wearing an explosive vest…” (memory), “I deeply and completely accept myself” (self-acceptance statement).”

Then you tap on a sequence of points on the body and, in theory, the emotional intensity associated with the bad memory simply deflates.

The mechanism at work here isn’t totally clear. But one group of researchers who used EEG to measure the brain states of patients found that as the troubling emotions decreased during Energy Psychology treatment, “the neural frequencies associated with stress also reduced.” Other researchers believe that the energy therapy induces neurotransmitter changes in the brain that down-regulate activity in the amygdala, the brain’s fear center.

Flaky Or Effective?

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Energy Psychology? Emotional Freedom Technique? Yes, it does sound flaky, and when I mentioned it to my engineer husband, he rolled his eyes. (I’m not sure if this will convert skeptics or increase their numbers, but Dr. Leskowitz is also co-creator of the documentary, “The Joy of Sox,” which explores the “invisible fan energy” of Red Sox devotees, and teaches viewers techniques to boost the impact of their cheers in the “sacred space” of Fenway Park.)

But I digress. When it comes to Energy Psychology, which has been around for more than a decade, the APA has rejected formal requests by the sponsor, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), an umbrella group of practitioners, to grant continuing education credits to psychologists who want to learn the technique. No CE credits mean no new trainees, no blossoming of the practice, no possibility of insurance coverage. And, no respect.

(Practitioners are required for licensure to get a certain number of CE credits or hours every couple of years, so it’s a way to keep providers current, and it also provides income for the sponsors that offer the courses. Weirdly, marriage therapists, alcohol abuse counselors and some other providers can get CE credits in Energy Psychology through different sponsors. But when it comes to psychologists, most states take their cues from the national organization. )

The APA accepts therapies such as as hypnosis and “Positive Psychology,” in that it allows sponsors to offer continuing education credits for training in those techniques. EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, another kind of treatment for PTSD, also sounded pretty crunchy when it first emerged. Now, after a long fight, it’s approved and rated as highly effective for trauma.

No Longer Radical
And it’s not as if alternative treatment is radical these days. Complementary and alternative medicine now have their own division at the National Institutes of Health, and even Harvard teaching hospitals, like Massachusetts General, have embraced non-traditional approaches to medicine, for instance, its in-house Benson/Henry Institute For Mind Body Medicine. Dr. Leskowitz says his Harvard-affiliated hospital, Spaulding, supports his work, if for no other reason than chronic pain patients are notoriously difficult to treat, and many have mental-health issues at the heart of their physical pain.

I asked the APA what the problem is. I got a call from Kim Mills, the deputy executive director of public and member communications, who said: “The American Psychological Association does not approve or endorse specific therapy techniques; we therefore have no policy position on energy psychology. APA does not grant continuing education credits for any programs teaching energy psychology because the APA Continuing Education Committee did not find sufficient evidence of its treatment efficacy.” Their full denial letter is here.

David Feinstein, a clinical psychologist based in Ashland, Oregon, says only with continuing education credits will the practice get “onto the radar of psychologists.” By disallowing it, he says, the APA is in essence branding it as “quackery.” He says when he recently presented his work on Energy Psychology in Disaster Relief at a giant conference for psychotherapists his was the only one out of 170 presentations that included this program note: “This presentation does not qualify for APA CE credit.” Feinstein voices his frustration that men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have ready access to this therapy, and cites this video showing veterans before and after treatment using Energy Psychology. His group, the ACEP, says it will appeal the APA’s decision this summer.

Gaining Traction
Feinstein and other backers of Energy Psychology say they have more than met the APA’s requirements, and despite the association’s pushback, the technique is gaining tractions. He says at least 5,000 licensed psychotherapists are using energy psychology methods in their practices. And, he notes, it’s being practiced in traditional health care settings such as Kaiser Permanente [using a variation called the Tapas Accupressure Technique] and Veteran’s Administration Hospitals.”

Still, when I asked two savvy Cambridge psychologists if they’d heard of Energy Psychology, they both said “No.” And another local psychologist who does offer Energy Psychology — and says it’s incredibly effective for treating trauma and phobias — said she doesn’t want to be quoted because of the clash with the APA.

A New Patient — Me
To find out more, I asked Dr. Leskowitz to give me a little demo. We met at the Needham Public Library, where he told me to look for a balding guy with a beard (and a ponytail.) I spotted him at once.

Energy Psychology, he explained, is a “meridian-based therapy” that engages with the same energy meridian system that is used in acupuncture. (I will avoid chakras and energy pathways here and just say the point of it all is to stimulate key points on the body while simultaneously exposing yourself to your fear.) Dr. Leskowitz describes how patients imagine and rekindle the trauma, and then, by practicing some deep acceptance and relaxation at the same time, they desensitize or simply neutralize the fear or anxiety; releasing the negative emotions stuck in the body that have built up around those intense feelings. Sounds good.

So, I put down my notebook and become the patient. First, I review my fears, in my case terrible anxiety over flying, which I have written about previously. I detail, aloud, all of the emotions attached to my anxiety — fear of death by crashing, anxiety about my loss of control, embarrassment, etc. And with each emotion, I slowly tap my elbows, opposite hand to opposite elbow. I affirm that I accept myself despite these feelings, and say that another person, in this case my mother, also accepts me. Between each affirmation, I take a deep breath.

Memories of Turbulence

Then Dr. Leskowitz leads me through an eight minute or so round of applying pressure to specific points: between my eyebrows, corner of the eyes, cheekbones, under my nose and mouth, the collarbones, upper ribs, fingers. Again, I breathe between pressure points and say a short phrase, for instance, “That Flight” recalling the bad incident (violent turbulence while I was 7 months pregnant). Then I roll my eyes around in circles, clock-wise and counter clock-wise. At the end I gently hold the front and back of my head, channeling serenity.

Now I’m no doctor, nor any kind of mental health expert, but still, growing up in New York City in the 1970s, the child of divorced hippie parents who summered in Wellfleet, I’ve been exposed to plenty of therapy. And even though my brief encounter with Energy Psychology was mostly as a reporter, I have to say I did feel somewhat calmer after the experience, like my fear was somehow more distant. But who knows, maybe I just got happy envisioning the vanilla latte I planned to pick up as I headed home. Or maybe it was something more.

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  • Dr. Tom Hanson

    Hey — another nice article here on energy psych and sports (MLB)
    http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/mlb/columns/story?columnist=edes_gordon&id=6103972

  • Caitlin Williams, M.Ed., LMHC

    Another thank you to Rachel Zimmerman for her article on Energy Psychology. I am a psychotherapist in private practice and have been using and training other practitioners in EFT(the particular method of Energy Psychology that Dr. Leskowitz uses) for over 10 years. I continue to be amazed that there is so much controversy about such an effective, safe, efficient, powerful technique. One of the best things about it is how user friendly it is. It can be used for complicated issues in the office but a simple version can be easily taught to clients to be used between sessions. All of my clients use it between sessions to deal with a myriad of issues – ie, calm a fear, interrupt procrastination, lessen anger, relieve a shock, quiet nerves before a presentation or a performance, to name a few. Clients with complex PTSD depend on it to help them manage their often very easily disrupted daily lives. Imagine how empowering it is to know that you can deal with your distress on your own and not have to wait until your next session for support.
    I hope there are more articles like this one to spread the word about Energy Psychology – thanks again for this one.

  • Linda Thomas

    Excellent article. Informative, inspiring and encouraging. And kudos to Dr. Rick Leskowitz.

    Linda Thomas

  • Lmthomas9

    Very informative article – and kudos to Dr. Rick Leskowitz.

  • Carolestern

    As the President of The Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology, I appreciate wbur bringing attention to the APA’s persistent attempts over the past 12 years to limit the dissemination of Energy Psychology. Besides ignoring it’s own published standards for appropriate APA CE content — Energy Psychology vastly exceeds those standards yet the APA has consistently banned it — it is interesting to see in the article the APA’s spokesperson’s spin on the ban. You quote Kim Mills of the APA as saying the APA has “no policy position on Energy Psychology.” The fact is that in 1999, the APA sent a memorandum to all their sponsors telling them they cannot offer APA CE credit for courses in TFT, reported in the APA monthly magazine to all APA members (and they have subsequently let their major sponsors know this applies to any courses in Energy Psychology). The 1999 article in the APA Monitor, which describes the action as a “new policy,” reports: “In a recently distributed memo, all 600 [APA CE sponsors] have been alerted that, effectively immediately, sponsors may not offer continuing education credit under the umbrella of APA sponsor Approval for any courses on TFT.” Ms. Mills may be saying that this is not a policy but what other term better fits such a directive?

    Carole G. Stern, MS, RN-BC, DCEP
    President, Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology

  • Mel Glenn, MD

    Very interesting and intriguing.

  • Anonymous

    The “peer reviewed” studies link in the article above is not working.

  • Anonymous

    Rachel,
    I hope you’ll let us know whether you found that your fear of flying really abated after the treatment.

    • Rachel Zimmerman

      I most certainly will. RZ

  • Hilary Bender

    I have a student who uses tapping on his VA vets for ptsd – and has had significant success. Yes, there are a number of mind and energy treatments that need to be recognized — and let the results – not the APA biases – be the judge. I enjoyed WBUR’s story on the placebo for irritable stomach problems – and the lack of funding because the non-drug worked just as well. More please. If some of these treatments are bogus- and some are – they will quickly go away. But if they bring results, they will thrive. Hilary Bender PhD, ThD, Mass School of Professional Psychology.

  • Dr. Tom Hanson

    I got a PhD in sport psychology from the University of VIrginia, was a tenured college professor, worked full time with the NY Yankees as a performance/mental game coach, and wrote one of the best selling baseball books on mental toughness. I say that because AFTER all that I learned energy psychology, particularly tapping and EFT, and that more than DOUBLED my ability to help players and other people I coach. It’s like going from a sword (cognitive-behavioral) to a gun (energy).

    People will come around and in a decade or so it will be “common sense” that we are energy and thus can treat issues and conditions with energy medicine/psych techniques.

  • Mbopenheart

    I have seen this work with depressed clients, and it also works with those seeking to break entrenched patterns of fearful behavior….where one is seemingly paralyzed by fear or doubt.

  • Dorothea Hover-Kramer

    Thank you for your insight-provoking article! I encourage NPR to offer more information about to energy psychology and its many benefits for the public.

  • IMfriend

    Loved the article! As an FYI, there is an increasing interest in integrative medicine amongst many of the providers at Spaulding–Dr. Leskowitz regularly meets with the physicians, nurses, therapists, et al who all have been trying to expand the services available to patients.

  • Dr. Martin Luthke

    Thank you for this informative article! It is a disgrace to the field of psychology that highly-effective treatments are being denied official recognition because they do not conform to the established paradigms and accepted explanations of how psychotherapy and emotional healing works.

    Please accept an important correction: “Energy Psychology, which is also called Emotional Freedom Technique…” and “Energy Psychology, he explained, is a ‘meridian-based therapy’” are misleading statements. “Energy Psychology” is the name for an emerging field that applies the knowledge of the human energy body to the domain of psychotherapy and emotional as well as physical healing (e.g., pain, high blood pressure, etc.).

    Equating “Energy Psychology” with one particular method (EFT) or one aspect of the human energy system (the meridian system while ignoring the chakra or aura system) is inaccurate and misleading.

    Martin Luthke, Ph.D., DCEP

    • Glennsoberman

      Thanks, Martin for pointing out that energy psychology also includes therapies that work with the chakras or energy centers such as Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT). I have been an AIT therapist for over 10 years now following previous training in EMDR, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Solution Focused Therapy and more traditional therapeutic approaches.

      Like other mind-body therapies such as EMDR, Neurofeedback, Emotional Freedom Technique and acupuncture, AIT taps into the bodymind’s capacity for self-regulation, which is the core of healing. In addition, AIT integrates psychodynamic, Jungian, Transpersonal Psychology and Cognitive-Behavioral approaches.

      As a result, AIT has given me the psychotherapy tools to treat not only simple traumas but also harder to treat issues such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Dissociative Disorders and Panic Disorder.

      For example I worked with a young woman who had been raped and then exposed to violence during her Peace Corp tour in a country where there was a lot of violence going on including men assaulting women. As a result of these two experiences she developed PTSD. After treating her for just two sessions we had resolved all her symptoms of PTSD.

      I recently had an article in a local newspaper about how I helped the journalist resolve a lifelong simple phobia (fear of falling) with one AIT Session:

      http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201012260307

      AIT, however, is not a short term therapy, although we have protocols that will help clients who can only be worked with short-term. Most of my clients continue to work with me for a year or more on not just their presenting issues, but on other issues that we identified over the course of treatment.

      One client, for example, came in to see me for depression but over the course of two years worked on all his childhood traumas related to both his parents, resolved his social phobia, stopped drinking, smoking (marijuana and cigarettes), improved his relationships with his children, worked on his judgment issues (archetypal work with his inner judge), and learned to connect to his Center (transpersonal or real self) through introducing AIT meditations and healing his traumatic material.

      Another client came in with the presenting issue of panic attacks. I have helped him to mostly resolve his panic attacks using a combination of psychospiritual and neurobiological protocols. In addition we have also successfully worked on attachment/behavioral issues with his son and have also made progress on marital issues with his wife.

      I am also offering free therapy to any veterans suffering from PTSD as part of an AIT research project to demonstrate the efficacy of AIT in resolving PTSD. If you know any Veterans who may be interested please have them contact me at (845) 255-2443 or email me at glennsoberman@centerforholistichealing.com.

      I hope that the APA eventually comes to recognize the benefits of AIT and the other energy therapies. I have been able to get CEU’s from the National Association for Social Workers, New York State CHapter when I have taught AIT basics trainings.

      peace and blessings

      Glenn Soberman PhD
      Licensed Clinical Psychologist

  • Asnah Perlman

    Thank you for writing a positive, non-judgmental article about Dr. Leskowitz’ s effective use of Energy Psychology, another variation of “non-APA-approved” forms of Integrative Psychotherapy. (thankfully, “Integrative Psychotherapy” is replacing the not yet fully “acceptable” nor “respectable” terms, “Alternative” & “Complementary” which are anathema to our left-brain-only colleagues in
    the American Psychological Association). EP is akin to “The Callahan Technique” (ostensibly
    developed & introduced by Dr. Roger Callahan in the early 1990′s) which “morphed” into “Thought
    Field Therapy” & competes with EMDR as the optimally effective treatment for PTSD, rape, and the range of traumatically disabling experiences.

    In 1995, when I trained for advanced certification in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, our group’s instructors, versatile & experienced psychotherapists, included instruction in EMDR, Dr. Callahan’s methods, & color therapy. In my opinion, all the aforementioned psychotherapeutic interventions essentially work toward the same result: to assist patients to disconnect physical/mental/emotional (& possibly
    spiritual)pain & suffering from the precipating traumatic experience(s) as quickly & as effectively as possible. A portion of Milton Erickson’s hypnotherapeutic work with severe trauma is designed to bring about the same result. In my own practice, I have used all of the cited methods(not all at the same time!) with considerable success, as have my colleagues.

    I have belonged to APA long enough to be granted life membership without paying annual dues unless I choose to join a particular division or subscribe to their assortment of journals & other publications. Without intending to be disrespectful, I feel that membership in APA is useful to list on a resume’ &
    to show that, supposedly, you are a “qualified” psychotherapist. It took much time & effort to establish a Division of Humanistic Psychology, & to this day, APA ignorantly refuses to allow a Division of Transpersonal Psychology despite the years of innovative work and writing by Ken Wilber, Alberto Villoldo, & the myriad founders of the Asociation for Transpersonal Psychology who welcome
    Integrative Psychology and celebrate its emergence from the shadows.
    Asnah Perlman, LCPC (Maryland), NCC

  • Henry Edward Altenberg,MD

    As a practicing psychiatrist for 58 years, and having atudied and taught Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for 14 years, I know of the clear value and effectivness to a high degree of energy Psychology. The AMerican PSycholoigical Association has painted itself in a desperate corner, closely allied to the Flat Earth Society. We must have serious compassion for their obtuseness, and shall be happy when they realize that 2000 was the beginning of a new millenium.
    Henry Altenberg, M.D.

  • http://www.greatrelieftherapies.com Steve Manire

    Yes, thanks to Ms. Zimmerman for being one of the first in the media to take a look at energy psychology seriously. As a chiropractic practitioner for 30 years I looked for ways to help the emotional components that often were significant in the musculoskeletal conditions I treated, and six years ago found EFT (and similar techniques) that dramatically changed my patients’ conditions quite often, and often quite rapidly. And, as a member of the Stress Project (www.StressProject.com), using EFT for veterans with post-traumatic stress symptoms was an exciting, and humbling, experience. And, frustrating that it is not yet being used by the military while so many suffer needlessly! One source to which I would refer those in the mainstream is “When the Past is Always Present” by Ronald Ruden, MD, which gives a neurophysiological model for why EP works so very well (David Feinstein wrote the foreword). Regardless of the why of it, EP can, indeed, work wonders and deserves to be thoughtfully considered by the media. Again, Ms. Zimmerman, I thank you.

  • Myhealth

    Hello,
    Couldn’t agree more with the comments and information in this article, I am working with Applied Positive Psychology (including EFT) in Australia and I see fantastic results daily. So much more needs to be done to ‘get knowledge of EP out to the world’ Jennifer Bendigo Australia

  • http://www.harvardsquaretherapy.com Dr Aisenberg

    Very interesting piece. The most convincing part was detailing the similarity to EMDR. Fringe therapies often become widely accepted in later years. I am also curious @ the relationship of this treatment to the new drug Pristiq which claims to help erase traumatic memory.

    • David Feinstein

      Excellent question. They are actually different mechanisms. It is remarkable that certain drugs administered while a memory is active can change brain chemistry so the memory has literally been erased, conclusively demonstrated at this point with laboratory animals. Stimulating specific acupuncture points while a memory is active also changes brain chemistry, but the memory stays intact. What changes is that the memory is no longer able to elicit the threat response that it had been triggering. The memory remains, the fear does not. This principle can be applied not just to memories but to other cues that trigger a threat response, freeing the person with PTSD or other anxiety disorders to return to a normal life.

  • Gregory Nicosia, Ph.D.

    I thank Ms. Zimmerman for bringing attention to Energy Psychology and Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology’s attempts to gain continuing education credit for its study by psychologists. As ACEP’s President during the past two years, i would like to set the record straight about what really happenned.

    In her article Ms/ Zimmerman quotes Kim Mills, the deputy executive director of public and member communications, as saying: “The American Psychological Association does not approve or endorse specific therapy techniques;” but it does have a Division 12, Society of Clinical Psychology, that has standards for establishing efficacious and probably efficacious therapies. Ms. Mills goes on to says that the,”APA does not grant continuing education credits for any programs teaching energy psychology because the APA Continuing Education Committee did not find sufficient evidence of its treatment efficacy.” Unfortunately, this is not true. The efficacy of a treatment is not an issue in the standards determining the granting of CEU accreditation and it was never mentioned in the CE Committee’s (CEC) denial of ACEP’s application.
    The essence of the CE Committee’s (CEC) denial was that Energy Psychology remains “controversial and of uncertain acceptance” and that, “the CEC decision found that sufficient controversy existed to render uncertain the credibility of their claims and theory in the broader communities.”

    This decision rested upon the CEC’s interpretation of the APA Standard stating that:
    “Sponsors must be prepared to demonstrate that information and programs presented are based on
    a methodological, theoretical, research, or practice knowledge base. This requirement must be
    met by at least one of the following:
    1.1. Program content has obtained credibility, as demonstrated by the involvement of the broader
    psychological practice, education, and science communities in studying or applying the
    findings, procedures, practices, or theoretical concepts;
    1.2. Program content has been supported using established research procedures and scientific
    scrutiny;
    1.3. Program content has peer reviewed, published support beyond those publications and other
    types of communications devoted primarily to the promotion of the approach;”

    The crux of the dispute raised by ACEP is that nowhere in the standards does it mention controversy as a basis for evaluation of continuing education acceptability. The basis of the CEC’s decision is clearly different than that stated in relevant CE Standard that measures credibility as demonstrated by the involvement of the broader psychological community not by its level of controversy.

    In June, 2009, ACEP filed an appeal with the APA that was accompanied by a 80 page brief listing 18 counts establishing that the APA CE committee’s decision was 1) arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with the standards and criteria and the procedures of the Committee; or (2) not supported by substantial evidence.

    On December 14, 2009 the appeal was heard by an APA appeals board. During that meeting the representatives of the APA CE Committee claimed that they followed proper procedure and that the Committee gave our application careful review. Upon further questioning, the CEC Committee Chair stated that the CEC Committee did not have measurable criteria for their decision and that it was based on their “professional judgment”. ACEP repeatedly asked what the threshold was for Energy Psychology reaching credibility in their eyes. The CE Committee chair stated that there was “no line”.

    Clearly, the APA would like to have evidence based practices in psychology, but endorses its committee’s decision that is not based on any evidence nor any measurable criteria.

    Ms. Mills assertion that this a matter of treatment efficacy is not only inaccurate but ignores the fact that the vast majority of treatments that get APA CE credit do not meet the so called scientific standards of treatment efficacy because they don’t have to So why the double standard? Why the reluctance to foster the study of a group of therapies that shows such promise and already exceeds the standard for being a probably efficacious treatment?

    As a member of the APA for more than 30 years I find these actions and continuing obfuscation about this issue in stark contrast to the APA’s stated mission to: “advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare by the encouragement of psychology in all its branches in the broadest and most liberal manner.”

    Gregory Nicosia, Ph.D.

  • Lawrence

    The Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic at ECU uses biofeedback and psychophysiology to help Americas wounded warriors heal the emotional wounds of war.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDlKRA_vURk

    Biofeedback using ProComp/Infiniti /BioGraph Infiniti is demonstrated in the Video by Carmen Russoniello, PhD, the President of the AAPB’s, Video for PTSD! Soldiers returning from Afghanistan can only ‘go away’ with treatment! Just by the way – AAPB is THE original Society – 42 years old – The Association for Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback. The Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (www.BFE.org ) is 15 years old, The Video by Carmen R., the current President of the AAPB, and a Vietnam War vet, is how the Military is treating PTSD.

    What is the effect of Dr. Leskowitz work, has it been measured? What are the physiological results of these techniques? EEG, EMG, Skin Conductance, Respiration, Temperature and BVP? Is there anything that has been published?

    • Allan D

      Various EEG outcome measures after energy psychology sessions have shown 1) normalized brain wave patterns upon activation of a traumatic memory that disrupted such patterns prior to treatment (Diepold & Goldstein, 2009), 2) normalization of theta waves after claustrophobia treatments (Lambrou, Pratt, & Chevalier, 2003), and 3) decreased right frontal cortex arousal in treating trauma following motor vehicle accidents (Swingle, Pulos, & Swingle, 2004). But the most impressive measures with PTSD are the patients’ accounts where flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, drug abuse, and other symptoms of PTSD abate after just a few sessions, both by verbal reports and standardized inventories such as the Military Version of the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist. This is to take nothing away from biofeedback. Physiological interventions like biofeedback and Energy Psychology are crucial for effectively treating PTSD, and biofeedback is one of the pioneering approaches.

  • David Feinstein

    I applaud Rachel Zimmerman for bringing attention to Energy Psychology. But as one of her sources, I was disappointed that she didn’t take a harder look at the existing credible research I sent to her and recognize that she is speaking of a major breakthrough, not just a fringe therapy. Incorporating the stimulation of acupuncture points in psychotherapy represents a quantum leap in our ability to shift brain chemistry for therapeutic good.

    The studies she reviewed reveal a clinical advance that appears far more powerful for treating PTSD and other serious disorders than any other treatment available, and she failed to note this or to underline that this is what makes the APA’s position so ludicrous. For example, in a landmark study of 49 veterans with PTSD, 86% no longer had the disorder after 6 treatment sessions. On the other side, in one of the most cited studies that supports Cognitive Behavior Therapy — the current “treatment of choice” — which investigated work with 24 veterans with PTSD, 40% no longer had the disorder after 12 treatment sessions (both studies are reviewed in a paper I sent her called “Rapid Treatment of PTSD: Why Tapping on Acupuncture Points May Be Effective”). 40% vs. 86% success rate in half the sessions is a big difference. The conventional treatment also had 10 times as many dropouts as the acupuncture group.

    We are doing a disservice to the emotionally shattered people returning from Iraq and Afghanistan by treating them with therapies that, for many, aren’t effective when therapies that are highly effective are available.

  • JaneB

    EP changed my life, too — and I use a few of these techniques with the executives I coach. Dr. Leskowitz is too kind to say it, but the body of evidence is too strong for the APA to say this stuff doesn’t work brilliantly. In fact, their concern is more likely that it DOES work, and in a lot less time than conventional therapy does. I urge you to keep reporting on this work, and the way the APA is standing in the way of people learning and using it. Anyone interested in checking these techniques should check out the website of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology. You can find a practitioner near you!

  • http://wbur.argosit.es/about/rachel-zimmerman/ Rachel Zimmerman

    Dr. Luthke –

    Thank you for your comment and clarification. As far as the definition of Energy Psychology goes, I described it based on interviews with practitioners and articles on EP they provided me. But I am happy you have put it into a broader context for readers.

    Best,

    Rachel Zimmerman