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The Science of Energy Psychology

Energy psychology is the blanket term for a group of therapeutic self-help methods, based in the idea that you can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, activate stress reducing genes, normalize aberrant brainwave patterns and increase serotonin, endorphins and other pleasure oriented neurotransmitters. This has been researched in clinical populations including veterans, survivors of genocide, and survivors of natural disasters.

The energy refers to Meridians, Chakras and the biofield of the body

Tapping works on the meridian system. It’s like acupuncture without needles. HBLU stands for healing from the body level up. A mind-body healing modality that finds unconscious interference patterns and allows you to release them with a list of interventions. TAT balances the subtle energy of the body, focusing on forgiveness and psychological reversals.

Like most therapy, energy psychology is done by calling to mind a psychological difficulty or desired state and while performing an intervention designed to reduce the body’s stress response. When the body is recalling something stressful, traumatic or painful, there is a physiological response. By focusing on the internal energy system, we can lower the physical response which in turn, lowers the emotional response.

1. recall an anxiety-provoking memory
2. rate it on a scale of 0-10 (SUD)
3. identify where you feel it physically
4. treat it by stimulating acupressure points.
5. check to see if there is any change in the clients SUD’s rating

A deer who is grazing in the woods may become frightened when they hear a noise. the deer takes off for safety. Once the deer is certain he is safe, he immediately returns to grazing. This is how normal fight or flight works. Humans are more complicated because We think about what we think. We have co-consciousness. Our fear response becomes conditioned. Instead of reacting to danger and moving on, we hold onto fear, reflect on it and develop anticipatory phobias. Our brains hold onto trauma and use it to keep up safe. This makes it very difficult to recover from trauma by talking about it. As far as our bodies are concerned, emotional trauma is the same as physical trauma, and small t trauma is the same are big T trauma.

Our natural biochemistry is a feedback loop

It allows us to experience a stressful situation, respond, and return to a normal state of relaxation. This is called “homeostasis.”

Any traumatic shock sends the body into fight flight or freezes in order to mobilize you and save your life. This was very useful in the past but much less useful in modern society. In our modern lives, our bodies and triggered but we rarely have time to release all the physical effects of stress. The fight or flight reaction is a reflex that involuntarily shut down all non-essential systems in order to direct energy to life-saving measures.

This is why it’s so painful and traumatic to learn of a spouses betrayal or the death of a loved one or being involved in a life-threatening accident. When you experience a severe traumatic shock, whether it is emotional or physical, your fight or flight (or freeze) reflex is activated. The fight or flight reaction is an especially strong activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Our conscious minds rate and sort our experiences. Our unconscious minds do not. The unconscious just tucks experiences away without judgment and adjusts to protect us.

The conscious mind is only responsible for about 10% of what we know, think, or do. The rest, about 80%, is unconscious. That means the majority of what we do, think, know and feel, is outside of our conscious awareness. When you find yourself wanting something but doing things that do not support that desire, you are running an unconscious interference pattern. For example, you want to lose weight but you find yourself doing things that prevent weight loss, you are being affected by something unconscious.

You may be wondering how useful the fight or flight reflex is, if every time something shocks you, you get triggered, and have a flashback or panic reaction? Every mammal on the planet has this reflex and it’s managed to survive millions of years of evolution. So… whats the purpose of it?

Survival

Have you ever hurt yourself and didn’t realize you were bleeding? You were numb to the pain so that you could function long enough to save your own life. This survival mechanism dates back to our prehistoric ancestors imagined that you’re a caveman. You set out on a hunting trip with your caveman buddies. The chances of getting injured are pretty high. You could find yourself on the wrong end of a spear or clawed by a saber-tooth tiger or gored by a woolly mammoth.

Your alarm reaction springs into action

First, you get numb so that you aren’t overwhelmed by pain. Second, you go white. All the blood drains from your skin and goes to the interior of your body so that you don’t bleed to death from your wounds. Third, your heart rate pumps like crazy to fuel your muscles so that you can crawl back to your cave and save your skin.
Remember the whole point of this reflex is to save your life. It sets off a chain reaction that shuts down all non-essential bodily systems like your immune system, and your hunger cues. After all, you can last a few days without food, and your immune system won’t do you any good if you if you bleed to death.

Strong emotional reactions can trigger the hypothalamus the same as physical pain

Stimuli can be direct or indirect, remembered or perceived.
Pain sensations transmit up through the spinal cord and brainstem to the hypothalamus. Strong emotional reactions can come from current, present, external sources or recalled memories. They cause increased activity in the limbic system- especially the amygdala and the hippocampus. Your amygdala is recording events as they happen and sending that information directly to the thalamus and storing it in the limbic system when you’re shocked for the first time, or triggered later, the pituitary gland releases ACTH or “adrenocorticotropic hormone”.
This triggers your adrenal glands, which are on top of your kidney’s, to release adrenaline and cortisol. The cortisol then goes to your liver. Cortisol causes your liver to release glucose so you have blood sugar (energy) to run or fight with. Cortisol also circulates down to the thymus and shuts down your immune response.

For every “on” switch in the body, there is an “off” switch

The calming reflex is how your body down-regulates the stress response and regains balance after stress. You can use your own natural neurological feedback mechanism to turn on your calming reflex and turn off your body’s fight or flight reflex.

Energy interventions such as EFT tapping, TAT and HBLU help you to do that. By stimulating acupressure points during the recall of memoryCortisol feeds back to the hypothalamus and pituitary to stop ACTH release. Opioid peptides stop pain and induce a sense of wellbeing. Opioid peptides decrease heart rate and enhance the immune system function that had been suppressed by stress. Enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins regulate and bind to the body’s opioid receptors and provide pain relief in the brain and spinal cord. Accumulated stress and trauma make it more difficult for us to go back to a restful state. Energy psychology is revolutionary because it allows you to address the memory and the chemical reactions holding that memory in place at the same time. Making it a true mind/body healing experience.

References

Church D. & Feinstein, D (2010)
Guyton, A.C., and Hall, J.E., Textbook of medical physiology 10 edition W.B Saunders Co. NY 2000

Feinstein, D (2012)

Jessop, D.S., Journal of Endocrinology (1999) 160, 169-180 description and review of how beta-endorphins inhibit ACTH release in the hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis.
Lipton, B. (2005) the biology of belief

Stefano G.B., Fricchione G.L., Slingsby, B.T., and Benson, H. The placebo effect and the relaxation response: neural processes and their coupling to constitutive nitric oxide. Brain Research Reviews 35:1-19, 2001

Swack, J.A. (2001) Plenary address at Conference for the Association of comprehensive energy psychology (ACEP) The biochemistry of energy psychology: An immunologists perspective on the physiological Mechanisms underlying energy psychology treatments.

Swack, J.A. (1992) A study of initial response and reversion rates of subjects treated with the allergy technique. Anchor point 6, 3: 1-10

Ulett, G.A., Beyond Yin and Yang: How Acupuncture Really Works Warren S Green and Co.Inc. St Louis (1992)

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