What is Energy psychology (EP)? It 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, as these tools and skills can be taken out of the treatment room and used 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 will help you understand EP.

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. And it’s not just about wars and car accidents. 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.

In my facilitated support groups for women with 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.

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.