Somatic Psychology is also known as body-mind psychotherapy, body-oriented psychotherapy, body psychotherapy, etc. This is a holistic form of therapy that respects and supports the powerful connection between body, mind, and spirit. It is a discipline that is focused on how we relate to ourselves and others just as are most other psychotherapeutic theories, but this type of therapy is not solely concerned with our thoughts but is also focused on our body and our spirit. It is a psychology of the body, rather than psychology about what the body does or does not do.
The roots of somatic psychology run deep and its theories and techniques can be traced back to ancient times. The specific connections to the field of psychology are quite robust. There are aspects of traditional psychoanalysis, Jungian theory, Gestalt methods, Adlerian Psychology, and especially the work of Wilhelm Reich. Many consider Reich to be the father of somatic psychology. There are also underpinnings of cognitive therapy, behaviorism, systems work, and certainly humanistic psychology within the framework of somatic psychology. It is also a very good fit with other ancient and modern methods of healing bodywork such as osteopathic medicine, chiropractic methodology, yoga, acupuncture, biofeedback, and massage.
The advances of modern technology and modern medicine have greatly added to somatic theory and treatment. The miracles of medical imagining have proven that the mental state (stress, distrust, depression) has a definite and significant impact on the neural network, the endocrine system, the immune system, and the connective system. The importance of the psychobiological interrelationships to health and healing can no longer be ignored or marginalized. Cutting-edge medicine has begun to uncover the inherent information and wisdom that is stored in every single cell of your body. Every thought you have is "heard" by every neuron and cell in your system. Every experience you have had has been "recorded" and filed away in your connective tissue. That is a very powerful process and can be utilized to facilitate rapid change and healing. Many specific techniques have been developed to increase conscious understanding between the body and the mind, such as body dialogue, synergy methods, bioenergetics, holistic discourse, energy mobilization, kinetic awareness, core energetics, psychosomatic centering, and appreciative connectivity.
Energy Psychology (EP ) is a family of evidence-supported modalities that balance, restore and improve human functioning by combining physical interventions (using the acupuncture system, the chakras, and other ancient systems of healing) with modern cognitive interventions such as imagery-based exposure therapy.
These methods are being used around the world by thousands of mental health and allied health professionals as well as laypeople to achieve rapid, dramatic, and lasting therapeutic shifts in feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. While some of these techniques are simple enough that children can be taught to use them independently, they have proven so powerful that they are being employed by several organizations worldwide to provide the first response to disasters and other traumatic situations.
Positive clinical and experimental outcomes have shown EP methods to help alleviate a multitude of issues including trauma and PTSD, anxiety and phobias, depression, addictions, weight management, pain. They have also been found to support improvement in school, sports, and work performance.
This innovative approach to mental and physical health is currently being studied by the National Institutes of Health, the Kaiser Foundation, and the Veterans Administration. Though the scientific study of energy psychology modalities is in it its early phases, the growing body of clinical research has thus far been very promising. fMRI and QEEG results have shown positive brain activity after the use of energy psychology techniques.
Some of the more common forms of Energy Psychology Include:
- Emotional Freedom Techniques
- Holographic Memory Resolution
- Healing Touch
- Thought Field Therapy
- Tapas Acupressure Technique
- Comprehensive Energy Psychology
- Matrix Energetics
How does Energy Psychology work?
Mind-body approaches to healing recognize a multi-layered interconnection between the different systems of the body, the brain, and the mind. These connections are supported through numerous scientific disciplines including psychoneuroimmunology, epigenetics, interpersonal neurobiology, and neuroplasticity. The effectiveness of energy psychology approaches appears to derive from a synergistic effect of focusing attention on specific memories and other cognitive-affective experiences while teaching clients skills to activate the energy systems of the body to normal functioning, including disruptions in the brain and brain stem. The results typically transcend the normal ability to change experience through conscious effort. Instead, subjects repeatedly report spontaneous resolution of negative thoughts, feelings, and memories
The above was taken from the webpage-The Home for Energy Psychology: Championing EP techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques - EFT, Thought Field Therapy - TFT, Tapas Acupressure Technique ™ - TAT, and more.
Copyright © 2001-2011 Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology
The following section has been taken from excerpts of the webpage of Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, DCC
Most energy psychology techniques were "developed" in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, but are still rather unknown by the general public. These energy psychologies have been dubbed "power therapies" because they work so quickly compared to traditional talk therapy. This appears to be due in part because they target the more primitive parts of the brain. These would include the Limbic system, the Medulla Oblongata, and the Enkephalin system, which is in every cell of the body. EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Hypnosis are often included as "power" therapies although they do not directly utilize the Meridian System.
EFT, TFT, and NET™ all work by accessing the mind-body matrix or Meridian System in Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine addresses the body's need for balance or homeostasis. If the Chi or energy of the body is in balance then it is assumed that the body will be able to cure itself and run at top efficiency. Practitioners assess the body's balance by testing acupressure or acupuncture points in the body, which are divided up into 12 main Meridian Systems. These Meridian Systems are named for the main organs of the body such as the Lung Meridian or the Liver Meridian. Each of these systems corresponds with particular emotions. For example, the lung meridian is associated with grief and sorrow, and the liver meridian with anger and resentment. Through a process of tapping acupuncture points on the body, trauma is relieved and homeostasis is reestablished.
Applied Kinesiology tests the Chi or energy by taking a strong indicator muscle, almost any major muscle, and asking the client or patient to lock that muscle while the practitioner tries to challenge the strength of the muscle to see if it will hold its position. The practitioner might ask a client to hold their arm straight out in front of them and lock it, while the clinician with an open hand firmly pushes down on the arm right above the wrist. The body consists of water and electricity. It is believed that muscle testing checks to see if the muscle has enough electrical activity in it to hold. It appears that Chi is essentially the same as this electricity. Dr. Goodheart, the father of Applied Kinesiology or AK, first demonstrated therapy localization. Therapy localization occurs when the therapist tests a strong muscle alone or in the clear. Then either the client or the therapist touches another part of the clients' body to test if a change of muscle strength occurs. If it does, then dysfunction is assumed to be present in the localized area.
Dr. Shannon and NFL player Sammi Hill demonstrate muscle testing (while trying not to laugh at the six other players in the room making fun of them while trying to film with straight faces)
Emotions are energy and therefore emotions can be muscle tested through the electrical system of the body. Using several algorithms of tapping certain acupressure points while thinking of a problem such as an addiction or a phobia often allows the body to return to homeostasis and therefore the craving is reduced or the fear is alleviated. Not only is it a highly effective system for many problems, but recent studies have shown that it is quicker and more effective than CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy.
The emotional Freedom Technique is an offshoot of Thought Field Therapy. It was developed by Gary Craig, a minister, and personal trainer. EFT taps all the meridians with the rationale that thereby they are bound to balance the affected meridian. The theoretical basis behind many energy psychology meridian tapping techniques is not only behavioral in nature but psychodynamic. Freud's concept of repetition compulsion is one of the central tenets in meridian tapping. Freud believed that when trauma is not fully processed or relieved an individual will develop a maladaptive symptom or behavior pattern in a fruitless attempt to resolve the original problem. A present stressor is more likely to become a trauma if it is similar to an event that was traumatic to an individual in their past. When the earliest trauma is relieved at the basic energy level, most present traumas collapse in response. Not addressing this earliest pain is the most common reason for psychological reversal, which shows up with much greater frequency in the other systems for energy rebalancing.
Because the stimulation of acupuncture points produces physical change by altering the body’s electrical activity, the various mental health protocols that utilize acupuncture points are collectively known as “energy psychology.” Energy psychology protocols generally combine the stimulation of particular electromagnetically responsive areas on the surface of the skin with methods from cognitive-behavioral therapy, including the use of imagery, self-statements, and subjective distress ratings.
Why Does It Work?
In fact, the mechanisms by which the basic procedure—tapping specific points on the skin while mentally activating a dysfunctional emotional response—may not be as incomprehensible as it first appears. Energy psychology may work by producing neurological shifts in brain function in much the same way as neurofeedback training, a treatment that’s increasingly being used for problems ranging from learning disabilities to anxiety disorders, depression, and addictions. Unlike psychiatric medication, which catalyzes changes through its effects on the brain’s biochemistry, both energy psychology techniques and neurofeedback training have been shown to bring about changes in brain-wave patterns, and these changes correspond with a reduction of symptoms.
But if we examine the electrochemical shifts in the brain that are brought about by stimulating electrically inductive points on the skin, a coherent picture begins to emerge. Research studies have shown that acupuncture points are more electrically responsive than other areas of the skin (which have 20 to 30 times the electrical resistance). Studies have also indicated that acupuncture points have a higher concentration of receptors sensitive to mechanical stimulation. In energy psychology, a subset of acupuncture points is stimulated, usually by tapping the points while a client mentally activates a dysfunctional emotional response. Tapping specific acupuncture points appears to send signals to the brain that are similar to those produced by the more traditional use of needles. Various studies have demonstrated that the stimulation of selected acupuncture points modulates the activities of the limbic system and other brain structures that are involved in the experiences of fear and pain.
The most promising current hypothesis of the neurological mechanism by which energy psychology achieves its effects is that it combines this direct electrical route into the limbic system (through acupuncture-point stimulation) with the activation of a disturbing memory. As Joseph LeDoux’s research program at the Center for Neural Science at New York University has demonstrated, any time a fearful memory is brought to mind, the neural connections between the fearful image and the emotional response may be increased or decreased. The memory becomes labile when reactivated, and thus susceptible to being neurologically consolidated in a new way—its emotional power either reinforced or dissipated in the process. In energy psychology treatments, it may be that the established ability of acupuncture to deactivate areas of the brain that are involved in the experiences of fear and pain takes hold during this moment of “neural plasticity.”
Between 1988 and 2002, a team of 36 therapists from 11 allied treatment centers in Uruguay and Argentina tracked more than 29,000 psychiatric patients who were being treated with a protocol that used acupoint stimulation (www.innersource.net/energy_psych/epi_research.htm). Besides an estimated 70 percent overall improvement rate and various informal substudies suggesting that the energy psychology treatments yielded markedly stronger outcomes than conventional treatments with a range of disorders, systematic interviews with the therapists identified the conditions for which energy psychology treatments seemed more or less effective. Overall these clinicians indicated that energy psychology interventions were most effective with anxiety disorders, reactive depression, and many of the emotional difficulties of everyday life—from unwarranted fears and anger to excessive feelings of guilt, shame, grief, jealousy, or rejection. They didn’t appear to be as effective with disorders that were more biologically entrenched, such as endogenous depression, bipolar disorders, personality disorders, delirium, and dementia. For anxiety disorders, the therapists’ uniform impression was that no other treatment modality at their disposal (including cognitive-behavioral therapy combined with medication as needed) was as rapid, potent, and lasting.
adapted from: Psychotherapy Networker Magazine
To learn more about Energy Psychology
Energy Diagnostic & Treatment Methods
Emotional Freedom Techniques
See more Matrix Work
Thought Field Therapy (TFT)
The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP)
The Association for Meridian Therapies
The AMT Information Portal Includes Articles
Libraries, Downloads Section, News & Trainings.
Association for the Advancement of Meridian Therapies (AAMT)
A free, non-profit organization which assists the learning and use of
energy therapies world-wide. Lists international practitioners.
The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM)
The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine is a non-profit organization that promotes understanding, exploration, research and application of the energies of consciousness. ISSSEEM bridges science and spirit through the exchange of ideas, experiential practice and a collaborative, connected community.
- Links to some 300 articles can be found in The EFT & Energy Psychology Article Library at http://www.eft-articles.com .
- A list that focuses specifically on research studies is available from http://www.eftuniverse.com (click “Research” in the sidebar). In addition, the same website documents several thousand case reports. Put a condition in the Search Engine (anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia) and you will probably find that someone has reported what happened when applying acupoint tapping with that condition.
- A paper that reviews the most significant studies in Energy Psychology up to October 2010 was published in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training (a journal of the American Psychological Association): Rapid Treatment of PTSD: Why Psychological Exposure with Acupoint Tapping May Be Effective
www.EnergyPsychEd.comAssociation for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP)
(Practitioners Who Subscribe to ACEP's Code of Ethics and Standards)
Alice Miller in her book, 'The Body Never Lies' says, ultimately the body will rebel. Even if it can be temporarily pacified with the help of drugs, cigarettes or medicine, it usually has the last word because it is quicker to see through self-deception than the mind. We may ignore or deride the messages of the body, but is rebellion demands to be heeded because its language is the authentic expression of our true selves and of the strength of our vitality.
To learn more about this exciting branch of psychology locate the following books:
Body-Mind Psychotherapy: Principles, Techniques and Practical applications (2004) Susan Aposhyan
The Emergence of Somatic Psychology and Bodymind Therapy (2010) Barnaby Barratt
The Body in Psychotherapy (2003) Edward Smith
Body Psychotherapy (2003) Nick Trotten
"Within my body are all the sacred places of the world, and the most profound pilgrimage I can ever make is within my own body" - Saraha