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Applications of energy psychology in addressing the psychological roots of illness

Citation (APA style): Feinstein, D. (2021). Applications of energy psychology in addressing the psychological roots of illness. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 6(2), 24. doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2102014


The impact of psychological factors on illness is, in recent years, being biochemically mapped. The subspecialties of psychosomatic medicine, health psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, and integrative medicine work with mind and body in concert to promote health and healing. A specialized set of mind-body approaches, collectively called “energy psychology,” is being utilized within these and related clinical frameworks to facilitate beneficial changes in the neurological underpinnings of (1) mental states that impede immune function, (2) emotional influences that contribute to illness, and (3) inner resources that promote healing. Combining practices from time-honored healing traditions, particularly acupressure, with concepts and techniques drawn from contemporary psychology, practitioners using one of the most popular variations of the approach teach patients to tap on a prescribed series of acupuncture points while repeating phrases that activate areas of the brain that are involved with the issue receiving attention. Preliminary evidence supports speculation, which is consistent with more than a hundred peer-reviewed clinical trials, that the procedure can send deactivating signals to areas of the limbic system that are in hyperarousal and can send activating signals to regions of the prefrontal cortex that support executive functions such as planning and managing stressful situations. Ways of utilizing the approach for addressing emotional and cognitive aspects of physical illness are discussed. While utilizing the best medical interventions available remains the first line of treatment, the potential value of working with the psychological aspects of disease is frequently underestimated. Energy psychology is proving to be a powerful tool for addressing this dimension of illness and healing. The paper closes with a detailed case history.

Keywords: acupressure, anxiety, cognitive behavior therapy, emotional freedom techniques, energy psychology, health, illness, tapping, thought field therapy

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