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Energy Therapies & Other Innovative Approaches

Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, RMT, edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.

There are several approaches to healing trauma that are based upon the premise that humans are comprised of energy. These practices are often referred to as energy medicine. Although maligned as a pseudoscience, they are currently in use as alternative or complimentary treatments by mainstream medicine and psychotherapy. However, the origins of these energetic healing practices date back to ancient times, before Western medicine or psychology was even conceptualized. Therefore, they can hardly be considered "alternative." Eastern approaches to healing have traditionally viewed disease or distress through the lens of energy. According this approach, an unhealed traumatic experience causes blockage in the flow of energy or some other maladaptive alteration in the healthy flow of energy.

buddhist templeApproaches like Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and related approaches are growing in popularity, especially since many of these techniques can be self-taught. In these interventions, individuals are instructed to gently tap on strategic pressure points throughout the body. Although models and protocols in energy work can vary, these tapping sequences are generally accompanied by a positive affirmation (e.g., "Even though I am stressed, I can still love and respect myself."). If you find this type of healing approach appealing, you might want to look into Neuroemotional Technique (NET) and Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Many trauma survivors are also reporting success with classic energy practices like acupuncture, and the Japanese healing technique of Reiki (which literally means moving the flow of energy).

Author and trauma specialist (also friend and colleague) Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW recently shared that since integrating Reiki into her psychotherapy practice, her clients have reported tremendous improvement. I am also a Reiki Master and integrate this energy healing throughout my work with my clients as they permit, and I've also received overwhelmingly positive feedback about its benefit. People who showed improvement with Reiki and other energy healing techniques, say something is being touched at a deep energetic level of their experience that more traditional methods are not reaching. If you are a person who believes in the energetic and spiritual impact of trauma and related stressors, these approaches may be something worth checking out. Banitt's (2012) book The Trauma Toolkit: Healing Trauma from the Inside Out offers a very comprehensive guide to Eastern, Western, and indigenous/Native American forms of healing and how they can be used in concert.