I began my exploration into the energy therapies after over 20 years of working on myself through therapy and personal growth workshops. I work in the field of personal and organizational change and conduct personal growth and leadership workshops for others. Until I found the acupressure point energy therapies, the change process seemed long and difficult for myself and for others. My personal experience with energy therapies indicated that the change process needn’t be so cumbersome and difficult. I was so amazed with my own progress as a result of utilizing the energy therapies that I decided to learn them so that I could help others to heal as quickly. Eventually, I developed my own methodology, called “Integrated Energy Therapies,” that combines a number of the ones I learned (including EFT, TFT, TAT, Seemorg Matrix, Peter Levine’s “Somatic Experiencing” and bilateral stimulation, called EMDR by Francine Shapiro—see descriptions below). Currently I am blessed with a practice where I help individuals experience this very powerful process for changing.
What I have witnessed in myself and in my clients is that when we clear the triggers that lead to ineffective behaviors, change occurs naturally and easily. Why?
We are traumatized through our lives by interactions, situations and relationships. Everyone has trauma. Traumas may result from the loss of a loved one or simply from being yelled at, which can create a belief such as “I will always be abandoned,” or “I am no good.” Trauma may result from small daily interactions, such as with a mother who does not acknowledge her child’s accomplishments or a father who says, “I know you can do better,” or a teacher who says, “this painting is terrible.” The traumas we experience register and are stored in our bodies at cellular and energetic levels as a survival mechanism—an attempt to protect us and keep us safe.
We are hard-wired to respond to any trauma with the “fight-or-flight” response, and if we can’t fight or flee, we go into the “immobility response.” Both of these responses are survival mechanisms that protect us. It is obvious how the fight or flight response keeps us safe—we either fight or run from the danger. The immobility response protects us because it dulls our senses so that we don’t feel much during the ordeal, whether it is abuse from a father or whether we are being eaten by a cougar. These processes bypass the cognitive mind and we react to the potential danger before we even have time to think. And, because we usually block the complete processing of the response, trauma can get stuck in the body. We block the full processing of the response because we don’t want to feel vulnerable, we don’t like how we feel, and we don’t want to feel what we feel—in other words because we think. As Peter Levine notes in “Healing Trauma” (a series of tapes from “Sounds True”), animals don’t stop this processing with their thoughts, and so traumas they experience do not get stuck in their bodies.
When the trauma gets stuck in the body, and we later witness a situation that reminds us of this past trauma, we react as though we are actually experiencing the trauma again—with the stressful response of flight-or-fight, or with the immobility response. Once we are “triggered” by a new event that resembles an old trauma, we have very little control over our behavior because we are reacting from the old, reptilian, survival part of the brain.
Our reactive behavior is usually a predictable response to the stuck trauma, such as withdrawing, being passive, attacking aggressively, spacing out, or disassociating. In other words, we do the same thing we always do when that trauma is triggered—whether the situation warrants this behavior or not. This response has, in the past, kept us safe. But it is a response that causes much stress, and is often not effective in the present because we are reacting from the old trauma and not to the current situation. As a result, we can be overly aggressive in a situation with a co-worker, thus alienating our self from others. Or we may space out whenever big man like our boss comes into the room. Or we may just stay quiet and not risk putting ourselves out, thus silencing potentially valuable contributions.
Trauma impacts us for the rest of our lives unless we clear it from our systems. The energy therapies do just that. Working at the traditional levels in therapy (intellectual, emotional, physical, behavioral) is slow and time consuming. The energy therapies work at the energetic level, which is faster and usually heals all of the other levels at the same time. Clearing trauma and beliefs frees us up to respond differently.
As an example, I have a client who withdrew from anything that was the least bit stressful for her. She didn’t want to put herself into a situation where she felt anxiety because she then lost her ability to think and interact in a way that she could feel good about–she was stuck in the immobility response. And as a result of this, she had developed beliefs that prevented her from creating a meaningful life. These beliefs, which I call “blocking beliefs,” were: “I will look stupid if I try something new, no one wants to be with me; people don’t like me; I’m not smart enough to do the things that stimulate me; no one thinks I can do the job; I can’t handle the stress.” So she stayed in the same job and felt fairly stuck in her life. She wanted to do more, but her fear paralyzed her (the trauma was stuck in her body). After five, two-hour sessions working on the originating traumas (an alcoholic and verbally abusive father and withdrawn and depressed mother), she began searching for a job. She now feels that she can handle new situations, knowing that she will be able to handle the stress inherent in the process, and she is excited about her potential and her future. And she believes she is smart and she sees that she has gifts to give to the world.
Energy therapies utilize acupressure points to clear the issue being addressed. There are fourteen acupressure points that are on the face around the eyes, above the nose above the chin, on the body (collar bone, rib, under arm) and on the hands. The acupressure point is touched while thinking of the trauma that is stuck. The client puts their attention on the issue and what is occurring in the body while they are “present” with the issue. There are times when other methods are utilized, such as bilateral stimulation or Matrix (putting hands on chakras instead of acupressure points), but most of the time the issue is cleared utilizing one or more of the acupressure points. Muscle testing (or applied kinesiology) is utilized to diagnose—to determine issues that need attention, methods that will release that issue, and if the trauma has been cleared.
Often after a clearing, new ways of responding are seen spontaneously and the person wonders why they never thought of responding that way before. Typically, clients see changes or feel progress after each session, and the more that is cleared, the more they progress in terms of where they want to go and how they want to be in the world. They move toward their goals, a sense of peace, and the issues that were normally so present in their life fade into memory. And they do this in an average of one to ten, two hour sessions, depending on the severity of trauma.
After a session, I tell my clients that it is healing for them to be present in their bodies. We cannot be fully conscious if we are blocking our emotions and physical sensations–we cannot be fully present to ourselves, to others, or to our spiritual connection. And if we are not present, we have limited access to responses, and cannot respond with our full potential. Often our feelings are not pleasant, so we tend to block them or find something to do to take our minds off of the issue. This blocking of the issue can cause it to get stuck in the body. So it is helpful and healing to pay attention to how we feel. Practice allowing feelings and experiencing how the body feels. This does not mean that you act out on those emotions, but allow them to be present in the body and feel what occurs in the body as a result. This “allowing” can prevent us from being unconscious and thus “acting out” in a negative way later. Usually as a result of this practice, we understand more about ourselves, heal the past and we prevent further traumas from being stored in the body.
So even if you can’t find anyone who utilizes the acupressure points to help you clear blocks, you can help to heal yourself with this practice of being present to your feelings. This is not to say that we can always do this by ourselves—often the help of a professional is necessary, particularly if the trauma is severe. But know that it is helpful and desirable to feel our emotions and the reactions the body has as a result of those emotions.
Therapies from which Integrated Energy Therapies was developed:
TAT (Tapas Accupressure Technique) was developed by a licensed
acupuncturist named Tapas Fleming, L.Ac.. TAT utilizes a particular “pose” on the bridge of the nose while applying pressure to three acupuncture points, and focused attention to release emotional issues and is particularly effective in releasing trauma.
T.F.T., or Thought Field Therapy™ (TFT) was developed in 1981 by Dr. Roger Callahan, a cognitive psychologist. TFT is an acupressure therapy that eliminates disturbances created by negative emotions by using key meridian points in specific sequences.
EFT, developed by Gary Craig, is a simplified version of TFT, useful mostly for issues that produce anxiety. EFT treats the identified problem by focusing attention on the problem while touching and breathing on all of the treatment points utilized in TFT.
SEEMORG MATRIX was developed by Nahoma Asha Clinton. Matrix works on the same principles as the other energy therapies, though it uses the chakras as the treatment points.
EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, was developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987. The process works by having the client move his or her eyes back and forth or with tactile and auditory signals, which allow the client to close their eyes while involved in the process. EMDR is the most researched treatment utilized for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The research indicates significant positive changes in subjects with PTSD.
Peter Levine’s “SOMATIC EXPERIENCING” is based upon his observations of how animals react to and process trauma in the wild. He saw that humans’ rational, thinking mind often prevents them from experiencing trauma and processing it naturally & fully in the body the way animals do. Because we stop the natural processing, the trauma gets stuck in the body.
Julie Roberts, Ph.D. specializes in personal change and leadership development. She teaches, runs workshops and coaches executives. Julie teaches integrated energy therapy to others, and she is currently writing a book describing her methodology. She sees private clients at her home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.