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Energy psychology

Related Terms

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Background

  • Energy psychology, also known as thought field therapy (TFT), uses "thought fields" and qi (pronounced "chee") to diagnose and treat psychological problems. Qi is a concept from Chinese philosophy that means "life energy." It is believed that imbalances in qi may lead to medical problems. The technique of energy psychology requires a patient to think about a medical condition or a painful experience, while specific acupuncture meridian energy points on his or her upper body and hands are sequentially tapped by the fingertips of a TFT practitioner. The tapping action is believed to unblock or balance the flow of qi.
  • Energy psychology is most commonly used on patients with chronic conditions that do not respond to conventional healing methods; these chronic conditions may include cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological trauma, phobias, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addictive urges, depression, chronic pain, allergies, fatigue, anger, acute stress, bereavement, cravings, nausea, neurodermatitis (a skin condition that causes dry, itchy skin), stress, trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling), tremors, and emotional distress.
  • Roger Callahan, an American psychologist, developed the concept of energy psychology in the 1980s. He has made several unsubstantiated claims, such as the ability of energy psychology to successfully treat malaria and heart conditions in less than 15 minutes and to treat phobias in less than five minutes. Supportive scientific evidence is sparse, and many experts argue that studies supporting the use of energy psychology have been biased and improperly performed. Specifically, Callahan's use of lowered "heart rate variability" as an indicator of the effectiveness of TFT has been strongly criticized.
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) has stated that energy psychology "lacks a scientific basis." In a survey published in an APA journal, psychologists generally consider the therapy to be a pseudoscience, indicating that it is based on false scientific claims. Psychologists have risen ethical concerns over the aggressive Internet marketing of energy psychology/thought field therapy, because it is not supported by strong scientific evidence.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.