Energy Psychology in the treatment of eating disorders

Citation (APA style): Mollon, P. (2019). Energy Psychology in the treatment of eating disorders. In A. Seubert & P. Virdi (Eds.), Trauma-informed approaches to eating disorders (Ch. 20, pp. 261–273). Danvers, MA: Springer. doi:10.1891/9780826172655.0020


Energy psychology (Gallo, 1999) comprises a body of knowledge and a family of therapeutic modalities that are concerned with the interface between mind and body, mediated by working with the body’s subtle energy system (Tiller, 1997, 2007)—the hypothesized energy system that is used in acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, Chi Gung, and related practices (Mollon, 2008a; Oschman, 2000). There is thought to be a link between particular energy meridians or channels, bodily organs, and emotions (Diamond, 1985; Thie, 2005). The nature of the meridians and acupressure points is a matter of ongoing speculation and investigation, with theories including the primovascular system (Stefanov et al., 2013) and the peripheral nervous system (Longhurst, 2010). Energy psychology approaches mostly involve guiding the client to hold or tap with fingertips certain points on the body—“acupoints”—while thinking about a troubling memory, experience, belief, thought, or bodily sensation. The effect of this typically is that the intensity of distress, or the perceived emotional potency of the target memory or belief, is lessened (Clond, 2016), along with associated physiological changes (Church, Yount, & Brooks, 2012). Further relevant cognitive and emotional material may then emerge, which is in turn addressed using the same energy psychological approach. In this way, psychotherapy is often found to be enhanced in its speed, depth of exploration, and efficacy (Marzillier, 2014).

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