If you are like me, you like to know about studies that support energy psychology – the approaches we are using! This blog explains findings of a study of energy methods used by lay counselors in areas that were affected by man-made and natural disasters.

The Bulletin of the World Health Organization published a systematic review and meta-analysis of mental health interventions by lay counselors. Suzanne Connolly, a Thought Field Therapy (TFT) practitioner, trainer, and researcher, and ACEP member, led the research team, which included Jan Warner and Jenny Edwards. She investigated various mental health interventions used around the world, particularly in areas with poor mental health infrastructure. Results showed that professionally trained lay counselors who use these methods create significant improvements in mental health. Overall, among the interventions studied, TFT performed well, receiving medium to high effect sizes in a shorter time with faster training.

Study methods

Connolly and her colleagues searched published literature for randomized controlled studies of mental health services delivered by laypeople that were trained by professionals. The studies measured a variety of mental health concerns. All of the studies were published between 2000 and 2019. Of the 19 studies identified, ten were conducted in Africa and nine in Asia.

The studies covered a variety of conditions.

  • 13 studied PTSD
  • 3 studied depression
  • 2 studied alcohol dependence
  • 1 studied mixed depression and anxiety

The techniques used included

  • CBT: 6 studies
  • Behavior therapy and psychoeducation: 6 studies
  • TFT: 3 studies
  • Narrative exposure therapy (NET): 2 studies
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy: 2 studies

The time it took to train the lay counselors varied widely, ranging from just two days (TFT) for the shortest, and one year (classroom-based CBT) for the longest. Significantly, there was a wide variety in treatment duration varied widely as well. The shortest duration of treatment again was in the TFT studies, which lasted one day; the longest was the classroom-based CBT, which included 15 sessions. The largest study included nearly 1000 participants, using interpersonal therapy to treat depression; the smallest was another interpersonal therapy study to treat PTSD and included just 20 participants.

Study results

The effect of the various modalities varied widely as well. Hedge’s g determined effect size. Overall, therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors had a medium effect size, suggesting that this is indeed a viable way to bring mental health treatment to areas in need.

Fourteen of the 20 studies trials found significant effects. Of those, three found small effects; six found medium effects; and five found large effects. Six studies found no effect. Among all the studies, the TFT studies fared comparatively well, with two having large effect sizes and one having a medium effect size.

Why this 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 manmade disasters. Because of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended enlisting community members to bridge this gap. While the goal of the study was to demonstrate 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.

A win for energy psychology

Of the 19 studies included in the analysis, three used the energy psychology technique TFT. As can be seen, TFT delivered solid results in just one day of treatment delivered after just two days of training. Accordingly, 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. This study also adds to the list of studies that support energy psychology.

If you’d like to learn TFT, you can study with Suzanne Connolly herself in ACEP’s online TFT training.. If you would like to use energy-based methods like this in your own healing, contact me.