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A Discussion of Controversies in Energy Psychology

Citation: Feinstein, D., Controversies in Energy Psychology, Journal of Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, Treatment, Dec. 2009, 1(1), 45-56.

Click Here for Journal Abstract http://goo.gl/xhm1Nv

Click Here for Full Paper PDF http://goo.gl/GjQkE8 (Note: This PDF may not be an exact replication of the copy-edited version. It is not the “copy of record.”)

Abstract

In the nearly three decades since tapping on acupuncture points was introduced as a method psychotherapists could use in the treatment of anxiety disorders and other emotional concerns, more than 30 variations of the approach have emerged. Collectively referred to as “energy psychology” (EP), reports of unusual speed, range, and durability of clinical outcomes have been provocative. Enthusiasts believe EP to be a major breakthrough while skeptics believe the claims are improbable and certainly have not been substantiated with adequate data or explanatory models. Additional controversies exist among EP practitioners.

This paper addresses the field’s credibility problems among mental health professionals as well as controversies within EP regarding a) its most viable explanatory models, b) its most effective protocols, c) how the approach interfaces with other forms of clinical practice, d) the conditions it can treat effectively, e) what should be done when the method does not seem to work, and f) how the professional community should respond to the large number of practitioners who do not have mental health credentials.

Editor’s Note

Again psychologist David Feinstein does an excellent job in addressing the primary concerns that a skeptical observer would have upon first hearing about EFT, tapping or other Energy Psychology methods.  The focus of this article, according to the author “will focus on controversies among EP practitioners, such as (a) the field’s most viable explanatory models, (b) its most effective protocols, (c) how the approach interfaces with other forms of clinical practice, (d) conditions it can treat, (e) what should be done when the method does not seem to work, and (f) how the professional community should respond to the large number of practitioners who do not have mental health credentials.”

Feinstein reasonably notes: “Like most biological mutations, the vast majority of clinical innovations do not bring benefits that result in their ultimately being passed along to future generations. Practitioners are wise to be skeptical of enthusiastic claims and aggressively promulgated therapies. Nonetheless, just as some mutations do benefit a species, some clinical innovations move a field forward.”

In addressing the current state of research for Energy Psychology (EP) methods he states “Definitive answers to these questions will emerge only from further empirical investigation. Efficacy research on EP is promising (Feinstein, 2008a), but it is still in a relatively early stage. Well-controlled comparison studies between EP and treatment approaches whose efficacy have been scientifically established are yet to be conducted, so the favorable comparisons of EP in relation to CBT that can be made based on preliminary studies (discussed above) might not hold up to more rigorous scrutiny. Dismantling studies are also needed to identify the active ingredients of the various EP components and approaches.”

This is a very important paper for anyone wanting a deeper understanding not only of the current state of EP research but also an excellent summary of explanatory models, applicable conditions for which it has been utilized and studied, addressing practitioner training credentials and much more. An excellent read.