Four Ideas that Explain Energy Psychology

Energy psychology (EP) is a set of somatic, holistically influenced, evidence-based tools and therapeutic interventions that help people manage their mental health issues. One of the most popular forms of EP is EFT, the Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT and other EP methods are gaining traction because they provide therapists and clients effective alternative to traditional talk therapy. They are particularly effective in helping people heal from underlying traumas. They also empower clients: the tools and skills can be taken out of the treatment room and incorporated in regular self-care and emotion regulation practices. These practices have stood the test of time, only gaining in popularity and clinical application. Most importantly, they help people. Here are four ideas that help explain energy psychology.

Trauma gets locked in the body. EP involves the body.

EP involves the body, and we increasingly understand how important that is in addressing difficult emotional issues, particularly trauma. Bessel Van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score tells the story: When we experience trauma, that trauma seems to get “locked” in our bodies. When we experience PTSD, our brains light up as if we were experiencing the trauma all over again. Our bodies go into fight-flight-freeze mode instantly. People might know that the trauma is in the past, but it feels like it’s in the present. Talk therapy can go on, providing a lot of insight, but – to the dismay and frustration of clinicians and clients – it doesn’t move the needle on trauma responses. We can’t think our way out of trauma.

Body-based practices like most EP techniques are particularly effective at healing trauma. Trauma is a huge issue in mental health. It’s not just about wars and car accidents, horrible as those experiences can be. All kinds of life experiences can be traumatic, including loss, being diagnosed with a serious disease, and being in a dysfunctional relationship. Childhood traumas leave lasting impacts, as we now understand. The ACE study shows just how powerful the effects of childhood trauma can be. All kinds of trauma underlie many other mental health issues, including addictions. EP offers tools that help address the trauma and mitigate the damage.

EP has a strong and growing research base.

Of more than 400 therapeutic approaches, EP is in the top 10 in terms of research base. Studies show it is effective for anxiety, PTSD, depression, weight loss, and a host of other issues. I recently introduced EP to a group of people with breast cancer and told them about a study of 212 cancer patients who decreased their chemo brain after eight weeks of tapping. They were enthusiastic about giving EP a try.

That’s just one small example of EP research. To date, more than 200 articles about energy psychology published in peer-reviewed journals demonstrate its effectiveness. Among these are more than 115 studies: 99% of the studies document efficacy for energy psychology modalities. These include more than 50 pre-post studies and 65 randomized controlled studies. The body of research includes 12 systematic reviews. and five meta-analyses of energy psychology therapies. The data show EP is effective for pain, depression, anxiety, trauma and PTSD, and other issues.

These techniques have been around for more than 30 years.

Roger Callahan was the first known American psychologist to incorporate meridian tapping in his work, beginning in the 1990s. The results his clients achieved were impressive -- and exciting! He found long-held issues were clearing up in ways he had never experienced. Callahan began teaching other psychologists how to apply his method. He created the first manualized meridian-based therapy, Thought Field Therapy (TFT). One of his students was Gary Craig, who went on to found EFT. Other tapping protocols have been developed, studied, and used widely – as self-help tools, in clinical treatment settings, and around the world in disaster response missions.

Thousands of people in the US and around the world have been using EP methods for many kinds of issues from depression and anxiety to trauma and PTSD to weight loss and chemo brain. EFT, in particular, has become very popular in the self-help world: in 2016, half a million people participated in Nick Ortner’s free, online Tapping Summit. EP has made tremendous inroads in the clinical setting: more than 10,000 clinicians have been trained by the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), and that is just one organization dedicated to teaching clinical EP skills.

Most importantly, EP helps people.

I have used EP in my clinical practice for the past decade and I have seen amazing things. Just like Callahan saw 3 decades ago, I have witnessed people become free from their traumatic experiences. It often happens in just one session. Moreover, the results last.

EP stories: a client feels better fast

In my facilitated support groups for women being treated for breast cancer we often incorporate EFT tapping at the start of our sessions. Recently, two of the women started crying almost immediately. The tears faded quickly. After 15 minutes of tapping, they were replaced by calm smiles. One of the crying women said that hers had been tears of relief as she was able to voice the deep emotional pain she had been suffering. The other said that she simply felt calm after tapping. They all said they felt better than they had in a long time.

EP helps: an example from the field

One of my favorite stories is from a colleague in Ohio, Robin Trainor. Robin met a woman at a retreat several years ago. The woman said she had been gang raped 10 years before. She was haunted by the trauma, couldn’t forgive, and said it was ruining her life. Robin did EFT with her. The woman was 10-out-of-10 upset at the beginning, but after 45 minutes of tapping, her distress went to zero. A year later, she was still free of the trauma.

If you chat with an EP practitioner, you will hear stories like these. People get better fast when they involve the body in their therapy, and EP tools do just that. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. It is what we need to be doing more of in order to help people.


need an energy boost? try the four thumps.

Need an energy boost? Try this.

Groggy and can't take a nap? This blog teaches you an easy tool for an energy boost.

Next time you need an energy boost, try the Four Thumps. This is a simple body-based technique that will help you get your energy flowing. The technique comes to us from Donna Eden. Practice the technique right now by watching the video below and following along. You can also download written instructions in EnglishSpanish, and Portuguese.

How it works

Tap lightly under your eyes. Then tap or rub under your collarbones, on the middle of your chest, and on your bottom rib.

Follow along with the video above and give the Four Thumps a try! Take notice of how your body feels both before and after you use the technique. This technique is just one of many you can use to get your energy flowing again.

Why it works

When you use techniques like the Four Thumps, you are interacting with your body's energy system and increasing the flow of energy through your system. This technique turns your circuits back on and gets your energy flowing again.

This technique is also helpful if you feel discouraged, numb, shocked, or paralyzed.

More techniques for when you need an energy boost

If you found the Four Thumps helpful, here are a few more tools you can use to increase your energy: the Heel Shock Release and Thymus Thump. All of the videos and techniques in our "Try This" series were created by ACEP's Humanitarian Committee in order to help people heal by spreading the word about the powerful effects of energy psychology techniques. We invite you to help by sharing this information!

If you want to learn to use techniques like this to improve your wellbeing, contact me.

Video Resources Provided by the ACEP Humanitarian Committee

The mission of the ACEP Humanitarian Committee is to develop and implement humanitarian projects that alleviate emotional distress caused by catastrophic natural and man-made events around the globe. We do this by encouraging and assisting ACEP members in developing humanitarian projects that utilize recognized energy psychology and other modalities that meet ACEP’s standards and guidelines. Learn more here.


five takeaways from the research on energy psychology

Five Takeaways from the Research on Energy Psychology

Energy Psychology is a set of body- and energy-based tools for mental and emotional issues. These tools are gaining traction among clinicians and clients. That’s because they work. Indeed, there is a substantial base of evidence supporting these tools. Here are five takeaways from the research on energy psychology:

The body of research is robust:

More than 275 articles in peer-reviewed journals discuss EP. Among these are 125+ studies, including 70+ randomized controlled trials, 55+ outcome studies, 5 meta-analyses, 5 systematic reviews, 14 comparative reviews.

In fact, among the 400 or more psychotherapeutic approaches, EP is in the top 10% in terms of research base.

It is gaining momentum:

In the 12 years between 2000 and 2012, there were 18 RCTs on EP. Then, in the four years between 2012 and 2016, that number jumped by 27 to a total of 45.

Additionally, the research includes more than 50 studies in non-English language journals. Most of these studies haven’t been translated into English; many come from Indonesia, but the list also includes Spanish language, Turkish, Iranian, Indian, and other international publications.

It’s also gaining traction:

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has created a specific category for EFT, TFT and Somatic Experiencing called Combined Somatic and Cognitive Therapies (CSACTs). They also acknowledged that these are “worthy of further research.”

On this side of the Atlantic, in 2017, the US VA stated that EFT is a “generally safe therapy.” And in Asia, the momentum continues, with South Korea’s medical system approving the use of EFT in 2019.

EP Helps – often faster and better than traditional approaches:

According to the research, EP helps with a host of issues including anxiety, depression, food cravings, pain, PTSD and trauma; several studies show EP helps boost athletic performance.

To date, eight studies compare cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and EP head-to-head. These studies show that EP is either equivalent to or more effective than CBT. Moreover, in several studies, EP achieved results in significantly less time.

In fact, studies show 86% of veterans no longer had PTSD symptoms when treated with EP. That is twice as effective and two times faster than prolonged exposure therapy.

The research also shows how EP affects our physiology

Several studies show significant drops in cortisol (a stress hormone) after EFT: One was authored by Dawson Church in 2012; another was led by Anastasia Bougea in 2013; one from Indonesia came out in 2018; the most recent was a 2019 study led by Bach.

An fMRI study led by Peta Stapleton documented neural changes after EFT. Finally, other research documents physiological & immunological changes and gene expression with EP methods. All of these studies show how EP affects us physically.

Want to add to the data?

If you are a clinician and are interested in participating in the research, you can do that easily using the online research database ep-research.com. The informed consent and various metrics are there at your fingertips; professional scholars will add your data to an ongoing study of a variety of EP methods.


ACEP's 2021 Spreading the Word Award Winner Maria Limardo

Activism In the Field of Energy Psychology

Dr. Maria Limardo (PhD., CMIQP, medical intuitive, CEP), has been sharing the gift of energy psychology (EP) in her home state of Florida and throughout the US and Central and South America for just four years. In that short span, she has a dedicated following, particularly among the Latinx community. In fact, in 2021, it is estimated that Maria reached as many as 100,000 people!

Besides her energy psychology work, Maria is a medical intuitive. She combines these tools in her private practice. Maria reaches many in the Latinx community via her Facebook page and using the popular WhatsApp platform. Additionally, Maria teaches EP techniques through ACEP’s Emotional First Aid training. She works via tele-therapy with individuals and groups.

Spreading the Word Award

Maria has given many talks, webcasts, and other online trainings to promote energy psychology. She is passionate about spreading the word because she has seen how powerful these tools can be. Her enthusiasm led her to a training program through the UN and television appearances on Univision and on CNN Español.
In 2021, she won the Spreading the Word award for her “outstanding efforts to garner credibility and respect for the field of energy psychology by interfacing with allied professional networks, organizations, or the public media.”

EP Tool of choice

Maria's EP tool of choice is the Trauma Tapping Technique (TTT), a nonverbal tapping tool. TTT has been used successfully in refugee and trauma situations all over the world. The Peaceful Heart Network and Dr Peta Stapleton are currently studying it. She says she has taught mothers to use it on themselves to keep calm, and to calm their children by using a kid-friendly, hands-on approach, with mothers tracing the points on their children’s faces and torso.

The people who Maria teaches often comment that TTT is “magic.” Her clients are mostly very poor mothers who need tools to center themselves and their children. The majority of people who come to her, Maria says, are referred by medical doctors.

Looking Toward the Future

When asked about her future plans, she says that sees the field of energy psychology growing. Inside the US, she believes, the increase in the evidence base as well as doctors’ increasing understanding of the powerful negative fallout of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are driving this change.

In addition to an increasing visibility of these powerful tools in the US, Maria says, there is a tremendous opportunity for ACEP to grow outside of the US. In Latin America, there is a wider acceptance of “magical realism”, making this population particularly open to energy psychology techniques. They are open to trying, see it working, and keep using it.

Background: From Conventional Doctor to EP Practitioner

Born in Boston to Venezuelan parents, Maria spent her childhood in the US and Venezuela. She earned her MD and her PhD in human genetics from the Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia. Maria was a renowned expert on Butterfly Syndrome Disease. Working with this rare and debilitating illness pressed Maria to look beyond the wisdom of conventional medicine and into the intuitive healing arts.

Since 2012 Maria has shared her gift with many others by teaching medical intuitive practices at spiritual centers throughout South Florida. Additionally, she was on the teaching staff at the Florida Institute of Complementary and Alternative Health (FLICAH) in Doral, Florida, where she taught a Medical Intuitive Coach Certification course. In 2018, Maria discovered ACEP, attending her first ACEP conference and becoming an active member of the humanitarian committee.

I share Maria's story here because she is inspiring!


Mindfulness and Energy Psychology for Cancer

24th ACEP Conference presentation |     Sarah Murphy, LPC, NCC     |    Compiled 4/22/2022

To see a pdf of the presentation, click here.

References:

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
  2. https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2021.html#:~:text=Estimated%20numbers%20of%20new%20cancer,factors%2C%20early%20detection%2C%20and%20treatment
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/update-on-cancer-deaths/index.htm#:~:text=In%20the%20past%2020%20years,cancer%20deaths%20per%20100%2C000%20population.
  4. https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/#/AtAGlance/
  5. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
  6. https://d.docs.live.net/21d315b5397d0298/Documents/breastcancer.org
  7. https://transformative-therapy.com/stress-inflammation-and-cancer/
  8. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/depression-hp-pdq#:~:text=This%20PDQ%20Summary-,Overview,to%2025%25%20of%20cancer%20patients.
  9. https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-019-6007-4#:~:text=According%20to%20reports%20from%20various,is%2032.2%25%20%5B15%5D.
  10. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.585534/full#:~:text=Our%20findings%20showed%20that%20the,%E2%80%9337.6%25%2C%20respectively).
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4143739/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6929410/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29152719/
  14. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/fatigue/what-is-cancer-related-fatigue.html#:~:text=Between%2080%25%20and%20100%25%20of,having%20before%20they%20had%20cancer.
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3949157/
  16. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/cancer-and-pain-control/about-cancer-pain#:~:text=Researchers%20estimate%20that%2038%20and,around%2065%25)%20have%20pain.
  17. https://d.docs.live.net/21d315b5397d0298/Documents/apa.org
  18. Turner, K. (2015) Radical remission: surviving cancer against all odds, New York, NY : HarperOne
  19. https://d.docs.live.net/21d315b5397d0298/Documents/Cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/finding-social-support-and-information/counseling
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6623989/#REF22
  21. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092549271000288X?via%3Dihub
  22. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0306987795902996?via%3Dihub
  23. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cam4.1052
  24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29681185/
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29514486/
  26. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11305069/
  27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29095681/
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5942506/
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5544546/
  30. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27193737/
  31. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27145355/
  32. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25537522/
  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190303/
  34. https://clf1.medpagetoday.com/content/pdf/reading-room/asco/JCO-2016-Johannsen-JCO.2015.65.0770.pdf
  35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4864185/
  36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4487655/
  37. http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/35/11/6311.full.pdf+html
  38. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921566/
  39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25367403/
  40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6623989/
  41. https://www.energypsych.org/researchdb8c71b7#ResearchQuickFacts
  42. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26894319/
  43. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized and Nonrandomized Trials of Clinical Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for the Treatment of Depression - PubMed (nih.gov)
  44. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1550830716301604
  45. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22986277/#:~:text=The%20EFT%20group%20experienced%20a,observed%20improvement%20in%20psychological%20distress
  46. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1550830712002601
  47. https://journal.unnes.ac.id/sju/index.php/ujph/article/view/19212
  48. Bach Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health - Donna Bach, Gary Groesbeck, Peta Stapleton, Rebecca Sims, Katharina Blickheuser, Dawson Church, 2019 (sagepub.com)
  49. Stapleton https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/tra0000563
  50. (PDF) An Initial Investigation of Neural Changes in Overweight Adults with Food Cravings after Emotional Freedom Techniques (researchgate.net)
  51. https://itsalllight.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/EFT-clinical-study-Aug-2016.pdf
  52. https://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Abstract/2012/10000/The_Effect_of_Emotional_Freedom_Techniques_on.12.aspx
  53. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0890117116661154
  54. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34097649/
  55. http://www.aftj.ir/article_122411.html?lang=en
  56. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28345427/
  57. https://eftinternational.org/scientific-articles/the-effect-of-emotional-freedom-techniques-on-patients-with-dental-anxiety-a-pilot-study/
  58. https://energypsychologyjournal.org/eft-reduces-anxiety-among-women-undergoing-surgery/
  59. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2156587216659400
  60. https://energypsychologyjournal.org/abstracts/abstracts-%E2%80%93-volume-3-number-2-november-2011/32-graham-temple-phil-mollon/
  61. http://ojs.stikespanritahusada.ac.id/index.php/chc/article/view/596
  62. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00361-8/fulltext
  63. https://jom.unri.ac.id/index.php/JOMPSIK/article/view/8332
  64. https://www.ijhc.org/energy-healing-therapies-for-symptom-control-of-cancer-patients-of-cancer-patients
  65. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cncr.26345
  66. energypsych.org

stress, inflammation, and cancer

Stress, inflammation, and cancer

This blog gives an overview of recent findings from the field of psychoneuroimmunology: the intersection of psychology, biology, and immune function.

This blog is partly the story of how stress acts on a molecular level to increase our chances of getting cancer and of cancer progression. The more important part is the story of how de-stressing might help our immune systems function better and help to improve our health. Research from the field of psychoneuroimmunology – psychology, neurology, and disease – helps us to understand, in a practical way, how stress affects our bodies. In deepening our understanding of what is happening in our bodies, perhaps we can thoughtfully harness our mind-body-spirit approach and use it to our advantage. Read on to learn more about the connection between stress, inflammation, and cancer.

Inflammation: A molecular story

We have heard a lot about inflammation and disease. But what exactly is inflammation, and why is it harmful? Inflammation happens in our bodies, and it’s not all bad. In fact, inflammation is vital for healing; it’s how our bodies fight disease and repair damage. The problem is with chronic inflammation. This increases the risk of a variety of diseases.

A group of chemical messengers called cytokines play an important role in inflammation. Cytokines are secreted by cells to regulate the body’s immune response. When a cell secretes a cytokine, that cytokine binds to other cells. The receiving cells carry out activities based on the cytokine’s message. These activities can include cell inflammation, growth (proliferation), and death (apoptosis).

Cytokines and inflammation

Our bodies' chemical messengers

Some cytokines cause inflammatory responses. These cytokines are usually secreted by immune system cells. It works like this: when a cell is injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, etc., it releases chemicals which cause fluid to enter the cells; this signals the immune system to repair damaged tissue and fight infections.

When our bodies are functioning well, cytokines are rapidly released at the area of infection, which causes inflammation. The inflammation calls other immune system cells to come to the area for repair or to fight infection. When the crisis is over, anti-inflammatory cytokines come to the site to counteract pro-inflammatory activity and calm the immune response. Our bodies need to have a healthy balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. An imbalance leads to chronic inflammation and diseases like cancer.

Cytokines: types and activities

There are several subsets of cytokines. One of these are interleukins, which play an important role in inflammation. They also regulate cell growth. Researchers have been investigating the role of interleukins in cancer. The pro-inflammatory interleukins IL-1 and IL-6 seem to play roles in breast cancer tumor growth, as does the anti-inflammatory IL-4. Another cytokine that is important in cancer tumor growth and apoptosis is Tumor Necrotic Factor alpha (TNF α). Type II Interferon or IFNγ is a cytokine that activates macrophages, the large white blood cells that gobble up infections and unhealthy cells; IFNγ is also implicated in cancer.

Cytokines are produced by certain T lymphocytes (a kind of white blood cell). Th1 lymphocytes produce the cytokines IL-1β, IL-2, IL-12, TNF-α, and IFN-γ, which are associated with fighting infections. Th2 lymphocytes produce the cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10, which are associated with tumor growth and metastases. Chronic stress and inflammation seem to lead to a dampening of the production of Th1 lymphocytes and the anti-inflammatory cytokines they produce, and an overproduction of Th2 lymphocytes and the inflammatory cytokines they produce. However, it’s not a simple, too-many-inflammatory/not-enough-anti-inflammatory cytokine equation. The system is complex, and each cytokine can, paradoxically, help or harm tumor growth.

It’s not all about the genes: The role of RNA

It's about the copying

The “maybe good news, maybe bad news” effect of these cytokines is probably the result of the complex micro-environment in which they exist. However, one common denominator seems to be the action of these cytokines on the transcription of ribonucleic acid, or RNA. RNA is the stuff inside all cells that allows for protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is essential for life; making protein is important because proteins give our bodies their structure and allow us to metabolize food, repair and rebuild tissue, maintain fluid balance, and regulate pH.

RNA helps produce, or synthesize, the proteins; DNA holds all the instructions for producing them. The instructions are part of our genetic code, contained in the double-helix string of paired molecules, or nucleotides, inside the nuclei of our cells.

RNA at work

RNA carries out the instructions, creating proteins in a process called transcription. First, DNA’s double helix is split at the transcription site. Next, proteins (transcription factors) and enzymes (RNA polymerase) bind to and copy the material in the DNA strand, thus creating a single strand copy of the gene. This strand travels outside the nucleus and into the cytoplasm, over to the ribosomes (the factory of the cells) where it binds with more RNA and certain amino acids to create proteins – including cytokines.

While we often focus on DNA and our genes as the source of illness, that is not the entire story. The problem could occur at the RNA transcription level. Even when DNA is correctly sequenced, RNA might make changes that allow for tumor growth and proliferation. There is a specific transcription factor, nuclear factor kappa-beta, which regulates several cytokines including interleukins and TNF. It seems that errors in this transcription process are at play in the process by which chronic inflammation can cause disease.

The HPA axis: Stress and immune function

The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis helps our bodies respond to stress. Neurons from the hypothalamus (a part of your brain’s emotional or limbic system) send signals to the pituitary body, which we often call the master gland. Then, the pituitary secretes a hormone called ACTH that signals the adrenals to release the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes a release of glucose in the blood and raises our heart rate and blood pressure.

We have all felt the effects of cortisol. When we are frightened, it, along with adrenaline, gives us that rush. When we are stressed or anxious about something, it gives us that uneasy feeling. Remember being a kid listening to a scary story: even if it was for fun, your brain’s hypothalamus sent signals to your pituitary body, asking it to release ACTH. That hormone went to your adrenal glands, all the way down by your kidneys, and asked them to release cortisol. The cortisol flowed into your blood stream, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate; it also made your blood sugar levels increase so you would have energy to run away. You were ready to run, even though the scary story was just for fun. A well-functioning HPA axis is even more useful when the stress you face is real.

The role of chronic stress

However (and thankfully) most of the time our stress is not really an imminent threat. Our modern stressors are less likely caused by the bear in the woods than by thinking about and relating to ongoing stressful things like horrible bosses, dysfunctional relationships, health concerns, or dwindling bank accounts. These stresses tend to be chronic, and they are not good for us.

When we experience chronic stress, our HPA axis can be come dysregulated. Instead of a short-term burst of cortisol, we have chronically elevated levels; in time, the levels become depleted, so we don’t have store available during a crisis. Generally, chronic stress seems to lead to an elevated level of cortisol, with its resultant increase in blood sugar and cardiovascular activation. In some cases, chronic stress, especially the kind experienced during childhood, seems to lead to less ACTH, and less cortisol, being available when needed. In both cases, an inefficient stress response leads to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of disease. This is the role of inflammation in the stress, inflammation, and cancer cycle.

Circling back to the cytokines: Chronic psychological stress and the cortisol it releases seem to cause our bodies to produce more Th2 cells than Th1 cells. This imbalance might cause our bodies to produce more of the cytokines that are associated with tumor growth and metastasis. Again, there is not a simple causal relationship between these cytokines and every kind of cancer risk, but in some cases, a correlation seems to be at play.

About those genes: BRCA, cortisol, and cancer

We have all heard of the BRCA mutations, which are linked to an increased risk of developing breast and gynecologic cancers. BRCA genes are important in DNA repair and apoptosis. Some studies, like this one, have shown that, when cortisol levels are high, cells do not efficient repair damage and they experience increased oxidative stress. The same study found that women who had elevated cortisol levels were more likely to develop cancer. Other studies have shown that BRCA1 is downregulated when exposed to high cortisol levels, making it less efficient at repair and apoptosis. Stress seems to directly impact the function of BRCA. Indeed, stress could be the link that connects this gene to the development of breast cancer.

Hope

In this blog, we explored a world of microscopic interactions which seem come together to form the link between stress, inflammation, and cancer. While researchers are learning more, we clearly have not figured out the whole picture. What seems to be at play is a combination of events: exposure to a carcinogen, a genetic predisposition, faulty RNA, an imbalanced immune system, stress and the HPA axis dysregulation with its consequent hormonal exposure – all of these paint part of a picture of what might have gone awry.

What can we do about it now? We have seen how stress seems to be directly related to disease progression; might de-stressing help stop or slow disease progress? The anti-stress benefits of biofield therapies, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and some forms of talk therapy are well understood. Research is underway, demonstrating the effectiveness of various practices in slowing disease progress. Now is the time to hold up hope for ourselves and our community. Let's work to harness the mind-body-spirit connection to increase our wellness and improve our health outcomes.


energy psychology delivers results, even after disasters

War, Disaster, Poverty: energy psychology delivers results

There is a shortage of mental health resources in many parts of the world, yet people in these areas need access to quality interventions, especially after experiencing natural or human-made disasters. Suzanne Connolly and her team delved into the research to see what interventions work best in these situations, and published a meta-analysis in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Among the interventions studied, energy psychology delivered results! TFT performed well, receiving medium to high effect sizes in a shorter time with faster training than other interventions.

Study methods

All studies included in the analysis were delivered by laypeople that were trained by professionals. The studies measured a variety of mental health concerns and were published between 2000 and 2019. Of the 19 studies identified, 10 were conducted in Africa and nine in Asia. The studies covered a variety of conditions: 13 studied PTSD, three studied depression, two studied alcohol dependence, and one studied mixed depression and anxiety.

The techniques used included CBT (six studies); behavior therapy with psychoeducation (six studies); TFT (three studies); narrative exposure therapy (two studies); and interpersonal psychotherapy (two studies).
The time it took to train the lay counselors varied widely, with the shortest training taking just two days (TFT) and the longest taking one year (classroom-based CBT). Treatment duration varied widely as well. The shortest duration of treatment was in the TFT studies, which lasted one day; the longest was the classroom-based CBT, which included 15 sessions.

Study conclusions: energy psychology delivered results!

Overall, therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors had a medium effect size, suggesting that this is indeed a practical way to bring mental health treatment to areas in need.

Fourteen of the 20 studies trials found statistically significant effects; six found no effect. The TFT studies fared well: two had large effect sizes and one had a medium effect size. Indeed, energy psychology delivered results better than other therapies.

Why this study matters

There is a shortage of mental health workers in the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The problem comes into stark relief in the aftermath of natural or human-made disasters. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended enlisting community members to bridge this gap. This study shows that professionally trained members of the community can indeed provide effective mental health interventions.

A win for energy psychology

While the goal of the study was to examine the effectiveness of therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors, the data also show that TFT produces impressive results with the shortest amount of training and treatment time: just one day of treatment delivered after just two days of training.

This positions TFT well as a relatively easy to learn and implement, effective strategy to address mental health issues in lower- and middle-income countries where there is a lack of robust mental health infrastructure.

For more information

If you would like to learn TFT, you can take ACEP's online course, taught by Suzanne Connolly herself, while earning 13 CE credits. Find out more at energypsych.org.

Sarah Murphy is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 15 years of clinical experience. She serves as Communications Committee Chair for ACEP. In addition to her private practice, she is Staff Therapist for Unite for HER. She specializes in energy psychology, including EFT, as well as mindfulness and hypnotherapy. Send comments to SarahMurphyLPC@gmail.com.


Feeling clumsy? Try the crossover shoulder pull

Feeling clumsy? Try this.

Read on to learn an easy tool you can use to boost your coordination.

When you find yourself bumping into things and losing your coordination, it's a pretty good sign that your energy field is out of balance. You can get yourself back in balance by practicing the Crossover should pull or the standing version, the Cross Crawl. Both of these simple body-based techniques help restore left-right balance and allow you to feel more clear and connected. The crossover shoulder pull was adapted by Phil Mollon from Roger Callahan's Thought Field Therapy. Practice the technique right now by watching the video below and following along. You can also download written instructions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

How it Works

You can also do the Crossover Shoulder Pull, drawing your hand from the opposite shoulder to the same-side hip: right hand on left shoulder, down to right hip; left hand on right shoulder, down to left hip.

Why It Works

The Cross Crawl balances our energy field. We move our energy when we move our bodies. Doing this with crossing over activates both sides of our brains, which is always grounding.

This technique is also excellent to use when you need to focus or if you feel scrambled. It helps you feel "together."

If you haven’t given the Brain Balancer technique a try yet, do it now. Take notice of how your body feels both before and after you use the technique. This technique is just one of many you can use to get more calm and present.

More Techniques to help when you feel clumsy

If you found the Brain Balancer helpful, here are a few more tools you can use to calm down  and get present: Breathing Into Balance and the Cross Crawl.

All of the videos and techniques in our "Try This" series were created by ACEP's Humanitarian Committee in order to help people heal by spreading the word about the powerful effects of energy psychology techniques. We invite you to help by sharing this information!

If you want to learn to use tools like this to improve your wellbeing, contact me.

Video Resources Provided by the ACEP Humanitarian Committee

The mission of the ACEP Humanitarian Committee is to develop and implement humanitarian projects that alleviate emotional distress caused by catastrophic natural and man-made events around the globe. We do this by encouraging and assisting ACEP members in developing humanitarian projects that utilize recognized energy psychology and other modalities that meet ACEP’s standards and guidelines. Learn more here.


Research on Integrative Therapies and Cancer Survivorship

A study by Terri Crudup and her colleagues was published by the online Journal of Oncology in January of 2022. The study examined the relationship between patient survival and the treating hospitals’ use of integrative therapies. While some studies have looked at the subjective wellbeing of patients using some of these therapies, this study is the first to look at institutional endorsement of integrative therapies and patient survivorship.

In this study, patients in hospitals that had low- to mid-level use of integrative therapies had triple the 5-year survivorship of those treated at institutions that had low level use of integrative therapies. Significantly, patients treated in hospitals with high levels of integrative therapies had a 48% increase in 5-year survivorship.

The theory

A cancer diagnosis impacts the whole person, affecting not just physical wellbeing. It also creates a cascade of emotional and mental health correlates. Additionally, it often prompts a spiritual crisis. It makes sense, then, that integrative therapies are popular among cancer patients. Integrative therapy is the term used for the combination of complementary and lifestyle therapies with conventional medical treatment.

Some of the most popular integrative approaches include nutrition counseling, exercise counseling, massage therapy and support groups. Others include meditation, biofield therapies, and physical practices like yoga and chi gong. However, without institutional involvement, these therapies are difficult for patients to find and to afford. Patient demand alone might not be enough to enroll other hospitals into the integrative world – but research like this might.

The study setup

Participants: The study included 172 patients, treated by 103 oncologists from 103 institutions. All patients were adult women. They had been treated for breast cancer in 2013 and 2014. Among the women in the study, the median age was 51. Finally, eight percent of participants had metastatic disease.

Scoring system for institutional involvement in integrative therapies: The researchers identified 12 therapies that are popular among breast cancer patients, listed below. Then they questioned providers about their institutional involvement on three metrics:

  1. First, educate: increase patient knowledge of integrative therapy
  2. Secondly, support: recommend, provide access to integrative therapy
  3. Thirdly, provide: institution covers partial or full cost of integrative therapy

Integrative therapies included in the study

  • Nutrition consultation or program
  • Exercise consultation or program
  • Patient support groups or patient-survivor pairing
  • Spiritual services
  • Psycho-oncology support
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation or mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture or acupressure
  • Music or art therapy
  • Reiki, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch
  • Tai chi or chi gong
  • Study results

Study results

As noted in the beginning of this article, patients in hospitals that had just a low- to mid-level use of integrative therapies had triple the 5-year survivorship of those treated at institutions that had low involvement of integrative therapies. This was based on multivariate analysis (see below). Here is the breakdown:

5-year survivorship by level of institutional involvement

  • low cohort: 89%
  • low-mid cohort: 96%
  • mid-high cohort: 96%, and
  • high cohort: 95%

Considering other factors (multivariate modeling)

Increased odds of 5-year survivorship include:

  • An older age at diagnosis (66–76),
  • Having a PPO insurance plan,
  • Being treated in an academic setting, and
  • Being treated by an institution with a low-mid or mid-high integrative involvement score.

Of note

You may have noticed that the increase in survivorship among patients of hospitals with low- to mid-level involvement with integrative therapies was quite high. In contrast, however, the incremental benefit for patients treated at institutions with high-level involvement was relatively low. The authors not that this might be due to increased illness among people seeking treatment centers that offer these services.

Also, interestingly, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people who used alternative therapies had worse outcomes than those who followed conventional medical practices. Alternative medicine is exactly that: an alternative to the conventional practice. The current study is quite different in that this examined the integrative model.

Why this study matters

This study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of integrative therapies. Indeed, these therapies offer a sense of safety and increase wellbeing among patients. However, they are more than feel-good therapies. The results of this study suggest that in fact, they impact survivorship.


The people of Energy Psychology: Asha Clinton

The People of EP: Meet Asha Clinton, founder of Advanced Integrative Therapy

Advanced Integrative Therapy, or AIT, is gaining popularity in the field of energy psychology. AIT is helping people heal from trauma in the United States and around the world. Asha Clinton, PhD., is the person who brought AIT to the world. However, she does not take credit for creating it. Rather, she says that she received AIT. No matter how it started, Asha has shared this gift with hundreds of practitioners and thousands of clients. Her AIT story is here:

Meet our hero: Asha Clinton

Asha spent her career as a psychotherapist in Princeton, New Jersey, where she and her late husband were faculty members at the famed university. As a new mom, psychotherapist in full-time practice, humanitarian aid worker and wife, her calendar was quite full. She says that when her daughter was young, Asha’s only quiet time was on Sundays in the tub.

It was during one of these baths that the structure and first protocol for AIT came to her. During a nap, Asha learned exactly how to execute this powerful healing protocol. Excited, and not wanting to lose what she had received, Asha jumped out of the tub and ran to her computer. Thus, AIT came to be.

Conventional talk therapy has its place, but often therapists seek different tools to help clients heal faster. Asha had an interest Eastern thought and had investigated other energy psychology modalities. She was always looking for ways to help her clients heal from the wounds of the past and create lives they can be excited about. Within that framework, Asha was primed to receive the gift of AIT.

What’s different about AIT

AIT is a chakra- and language-based energy psychology method. Since its inception in the late 1990s, the technique has helped thousands of people overcome many human difficulties, from dealing with illness to the aftermath of trauma.

The goal of AIT is to treat as many underlying causes of suffering as possible, so that healing can happen. Because of this, it is a trauma-focused approach. It focuses directly on any experience that triggers difficult feelings, elicits negative thoughts, and blocks us from our spiritual development. AIT is holistic in that it works with our physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual nature.

Humanitarian work:

Asha and her team have dedicated time and effort to humanitarian work, bringing AIT to communities that have experienced human-made or natural disasters. This work includes working a group of Mayan women in Guatemala who had been profoundly wounded in the recent Guatemalan Civil War. These women had endured horrific trauma, such as watching their entire families murdered in front of their eyes. The women suffered yet persevered, seeking to restore both hope and meaning to their lives. Asha shared AIT with these women, helping them to heal and move forward.

Today, the AIT practice continues in Guatemala, this time helping people recover from the trauma of the eruption of Volcán de Fuego Chi gag in 2018. Bringing treatment to those in need, a dedicated team of AIT practitioners visited the affected communities weekly until their help was no longer needed.

Looking forward:

Two studies are underway in the US investigating the usefulness of AIT in the treatment of cancer. Other case studies, such as one involving intergenerational trauma, point to the variety of conditions AIT can address. These studies will add to the growing research base exploring and explaining energy psychology.

If you would like to learn more about Asha and AIT, you can see her at the 2022 ACEP conference, where she is an invited presenter.