Looking Back at Energy Psychology in 2018:
An Early Pioneer’s Perspective
© 2018 Fred P. Gallo, PhD
Retrospective is from the Latin retrospectare, meaning to look back. So, here we are in 2018, looking back over our shoulders at the development of Energy Psychology, a term coined with the publication of my first professional book in 1998, Energy Psychology: Exploration at the Interface of Energy, Cognition, Behavior, and Health. However, the idea had been resonating for some time prior to that book, implicit in the work of Dr. Roger Callahan, and intimated in some of my papers and workshops throughout the United States and Canada beginning in 1994.
So, this is partly a review of energy psychology from my perspective, recognizing that others may see things differently. I had been practicing clinical psychology in private practice beginning in 1977, and by 1992 I was feeling somewhat uninspired with some of the methods I was applying in an effort to help people, especially for resolving trauma, phobias, and elevating self-esteem. Even though many of the theories and techniques I applied were effective in many respects, I was feeling a need for something more…something new, unique and highly efficient. It seems that my intention attracted something new.
Looking Back 16 Years
So, one day in late 1992, I was introduced to this energy notion after reading a brief article that proposed physically tapping at various locations on the body to treat addictive urges. The author discussed addiction as rooted in anxiety, a disruption in one’s energy system, and seeking. At the time, I was pretty sure that the brain and body function electrically and that was surely a factor in addiction and many other conditions. But the tapping routine sounded nonsensical to me, so I discarded the article and went about business or practice as usual. I recall seeing that the author was an older from a desert in California, and I imagined that he had lost his mind after years of trying to help people to little or no avail. I also imaged that he had a very long unkept beard and hair, poor hygiene, and lived in a broken-down shack in the desert. Therefore, he hallucinated tapping as the cure for psychological problems! In jest, this must be why we people of Italian ancestry don’t have psychological problems, since we often slap our foreheads and announced, “Mama Mia!”
Several weeks later I was working with a patient who was addicted to opioids. After discussing her condition, I thought we’d try an experiment with her approval. First, we applied Rational Emotive Imagery, a technique developed by psychiatrist Maxie Clarence Maultsby, Jr. This helped to lower the patient’s urge from 10 to 1, although she could resurrect the urge easily to 10 after applying the technique. That didn’t seem unexpected to me. Of course, she could get back the urge! But then I recalled the tapping technique and asked if she would be willing to try it. She agreed. We didn’t think much of it at first; after all it didn’t seem to make sense (although beating on pillows and talking to empty chairs in Gestalt Therapy is also quite odd). Yet, having her tap at specific points under her eyes and armpit did in fact significantly reduce the urge from 10 to 1. However, the most enthralling fact was that she was unable to increase the urge to the original intensity after the tapping! The most she could muster was a 4. So, we tapped some more, but she could always get it back to 4. While this was certainly significant, I felt that I needed to learn more about this method. What would it take to get the urge down to 1 and maybe even zero?
I searched around and found the tapping article, and I saw that it was written by Dr. Roger J. Callahan of Indian Wells, California. Turns out he was a well-groomed successful and wealthy psychologist who didn’t live in a broken-down shack in the desert. I reached out to him and that was the beginning of an amazing venture and adventure for me and many others that have learned this approach. I came to know that the tapping was on acupoints on the meridian system and that there were many ways to determine where and how to tap, and different protocols for applying the approach.
Looking Back 39 Years
Dr. Callahan began applying his tapping therapy in the early 1980’s, after studying applied kinesiology around 1979. His 1981 article in the Collected Papers of the International College of Applied Kinesiology on Psychological Reversal touched on his developing approach (Callahan 1981); and this was followed up with his book, Five Minute Phobia Cure (1985). As the report goes, for one and a half years he had been treating a client who had a severe water phobia. He tried a wide variety of techniques to no avail. However, after applying a simple technique that involved tapping with his fingers for a little over a minute on the bony orbits under the client’s eyes, the phobia was permanently eliminated. He explained that the phobia involved a disruption in the stomach meridian that was alleviated by sending kinetic energy into the first points on the stomach meridian. Somehow the tapping balanced or alleviated the energetic disruption. He later theorized that there are disruptions or perturbations in the thought field, and that the tapping collapses or subsumes the perturbations. These are energetic descriptions, although in many respects they are consistent with quantum physics and the notion of active information.
Although Dr. Callahan had previously practiced cognitive therapy, hypnosis, behavior therapy, and client-centered therapy, and was a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, it seems that he went into a kind of public hibernation after his initial publications on his new approach. Apparently, he ran into staunch criticism and even militant hostility because of his new approach that went against the establishment; it was certainly not accepted by the profession at the time and as well not presently to some extent, given developments discussed in this journal. However, he continued to advance his method, which he originally called the Callahan Techniques® and later named Thought Field Therapy (TFT) around 1995. While he didn’t have sophisticated statistical research to support his approach, he and others practicing this approach were finding it highly efficient in treating phobias, trauma/PTSD, panic, and other dysfunctional emotional reactions. At that time, he frequently made the distinction between statistical and clinical significance, noting that the former is often uninspiring and irrelevant in actual therapeutic practice. He emphasized that his work was about real-world results and clinical significance. As such, he was not enamored with applying standard statistical research to assess therapeutic effectiveness. I recall him saying that applying statistical research designs to assess this method would be fetishistic, and that group designs are really a grouping of anecdotal cases, even though randomization purports to predict more widely.
Looking Back To 1992
I came on the scene in 1992, around the same time as several others, including Gary Craig who eventually founded emotional freedom techniques (EFT) (initially called Emotionetics). EFT involves a comprehensive algorithm that uses Dr. Callahan’s original treatment points, distinguishing his from the diagnostic approach that tailored specific sequence of points for the individual. Basing his approach on his clinical experience with Dr. Callahan’s method, Gary came to believe that many of the components of TFT were unnecessary. Therefore, he weeded out many TFT procedures for a more simplified approach. As research has demonstrated so far, EFT works; although it has not been compared to any credible extent with the TFT causal diagnostic approach. So, it is still not clear which approach is superior or preferred depending on the individual client. While the TFT causal diagnostic approach was shown to be effective in comparison to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIT), and Visual-Kinesthetic Disassociation (V/KD), that study was merely a demonstration project with a small number of subjects (Figley and Carbonell, 1995). Further, while TFT also includes a variety of algorithms, and Dr. Callahan purported that the algorithms represent a robust but less specific approach, TFT diagnostics was not compared with EFT in this study, since EFT was not included in the study or well-known at the time. TFT diagnostics, by the way, involves applying manual muscle testing to diagnosis a sequence of acupoints that can be stimulated to treat psychological and some physical problems.
I began presenting on TFT in 1993, after studying with Dr. Callahan. This was before Gary introduced EFT; although he and I discussed his interest in disseminating EFT in a big way. I and others encouraged him, although initially he expressed hesitation to me since he was not a psychologist or therapist. I recall telling him that shouldn’t matter; that the effectiveness of the approach is what’s important. He eventually distributed a video series and developed a very large and visible Listserv that highlighted EFT and other energy psychology approaches. He also presented EFT seminars and made his EFT manual available as a free download from his website.
My initial training seminars were partly on TFT and also introduced participants to muscle testing, applied kinesiology (AK), touch for health (TFH), John Diamond’s behavioral kinesiology (BK), and much more. I called these two seminars Rapidly Resolving Traumatic Memories, and Recipes for Rapid Change. Later I entitled them Thought Field Therapy Levels I and II. They were attended by many of the professionals who later entered the forefront of energy psychology, including Greg Nicosia, John Diepold, Victoria Britt, Sheila Bender, Phil Friedman, Carol Stern, Carol Look, Michael Galvin, John Hartung, Vann Joines, Gary Peterson, Willem Lammers, Asha Clinton, Sandi Radomski, among others. Sandi was my first facilitator, and I am very grateful for her assistance, expertise, and friendship. Many of them eventually went on to study directly with Dr. Callahan. They wanted to learn his proprietary diagnostic procedures, which I was not at liberty to teach. I had Roger’s blessing to teach algorithms, which was the basis of much of my curricula. By that time, I had developed several algorithms of my own, including comprehensive algorithms that included tapping all the TFT treatment points, as well as the briefer 4-point Negative Affect Erasing Method (NAEM), now expanded to include a couple more treatment points and called the Midline Technique (MLT). Before formally studying the TFT diagnostic system, I developed a diagnostic system based on practicing Client-Centered Therapy, cognitive therapy, behavior modification, AK, BK, acupuncture, acupressure, Psychology of Mind, and NLP (i.e., Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods or EDxTM). However, I did not begin teaching EDxTM until 1997.
Concerning comprehensive algorithms, Gary’s initial sequence of tapping points was quite distinct from what he settled on later. Many of us who originally studied with Dr. Callahan would tap all of the treatment points when we couldn’t determine an effective sequence of points for a client. In a sense we threw everything at them but the kitchen sink. I taught this and other comprehensive algorithms in my seminars beginning in 1993. Frequently, I found this approach effective, and at other times a more specific algorithm or the diagnostic approach was needed to help resolve the client’s problem.
By 1996, Dr. Gregory Nicosia, who attended my basic training in TFT and other approaches to treating trauma, approached me about presenting my TFT 2-part seminar nationally. While I had already offered this training in 1993-1996 in parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, and Texas, Greg and I agreed on a partnership and we took my original seminars on the road throughout the United States. With more than a touch of chutzpah, we advertised the seminars with “There is a Cure!” and named the therapy Thought Energy Synchronization Therapy (TEST), since we were presenting a variety of techniques and other therapeutic considerations, even though TFT was the centerpiece. However, throughout we acknowledged Callahan, Diamond, Goodheart, Thie, Pransky, and many others that contributed to this approach. More professionals came on board, including Robert Schwarz, David Lake, Steve Wells, Larry Stoler, George Pratt, Peter Lambrou, Gloria Arenson, Barbara Stone, and David and Rebecca Grudermeyer who with Dorothea Hover-Kramer eventually founded of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP).
Given my interest and excitement with TFT and comparing it to EFT and approaches developed by others and myself, I not only began practicing energy psychology (to refer to a wide range of energy-based practices) with my clients beginning in 1993, but I also started writing about this approach and presenting extensively to professionals throughout the United States, Canada, and eventually Europe, Africa, and Fiji.
My interested expanded into EDxTM and later Advanced Energy Psychology (AEP). The distinction of AEP is that it is also partly a causal diagnostic approach like TFT, albeit also incorporating the Midline Technique (MLT) comprehensive algorithm, other comprehensive algorithms, a greater number of treatment points, additional degrees and corrections for psychological reversal, hemisphere dominance test, several distinct protocols to address beliefs and peak performance, and building in trajectories to other emotional states and outcomes (i.e., Outcome Projection Procedure) after neutralizing the presenting problem, various ways to correct for neural disorganization or Switching, utilization of other treatments including poetry and music, and thought recognition. Eventually, I also incorporated mindfulness and consciousness findings into the work, as well as unique visual techniques and applications for couples’ work.
When Dr. Callahan began his work, and Gary Craig and I initiated our renditions, there was little research supporting our work. Dr. Callahan had done some treatment over the telephone and radio programs and measured changes in Subjective Units of Distress (SUD), but no significant longitudinal studies were conducted, and he did not include empirically validated inventories or biological measures to assess therapeutic results. However, over the course of time in addition to over 50 randomized controlled trials and at least 50 more research studies (see www.energypsych.org), four meta analyses have been conducted on EFT and TFT demonstrating moderate to strong effects (Gilomen and Lee, 2015; Cloud, 2016; Brown et al., 2017; Sebastian and Nelms, 2017). So, the pseudoscience indictments do not seem to hold up to the evidence, although it’s understandable that some of the theoretical underpinnings may be considered pseudoscience according to one’s palate. For example, the energy paradigm might be disputed in favor of the current climate that favors neuroscience and cognitive behavioral therapy. However, these are theoretical positions based on different metaphysics. That is, the neuroscience position might hold that consciousness can be reduced to neurochemicals and neurons firing, while the energetic position is more inclined to favor human consciousness as fundamental and not epiphenomena. The CBT position focuses on the primacy of cognition, and more recently integrated with mindfulness. It’s notable that all of the approaches can be reduced to neurologic organs and processes, although I would like to submit that fundamentally even the brain is energy.
Writing, Presenting, and Synchronicity
In 1979, I began studying with the founders of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and even presented seminars on this approach in the early 1980’s. I was even invited by Richard Bandler and Robert Dilts to present on a comical NLP rendition developed by John Frisco and me at the NLP conference in Dallas, Texas in 1983. It was called Neuro-Linguini Como si Chiama (i.e., Noodle Brain whatchamacallit), and we had a lot of fun doing it. We also met the Smothers Brothers at that event, and they offered us praise on the quality of our comedy routine. They even connected us with their agent so that we could take our routine and our comedy on the road. But as much as I enjoy comedy and telling jokes, I passed up the offer since I wasn’t interested in becoming a full-fledged comedian. I preferred my profession as a psychologist and therapist. While participants in my seminars would ask about when I was going to write an NLP book, I felt that I had nothing new to offer. After all, there were lots of NLP books coming out regularly, and I felt that many of them were excellent.
However, after presenting and writing articles on TFT and associated methods, I believed that I now had something important to offer in the form of a book. As synchronicity would have it, after presenting on TFT at a conference at Florida State University and writing a couple articles on the active ingredients of efficient treatments for trauma (Gallo, 1996a, 1996b), my work got recognized by Dr. Charles Figley. No sooner was I ready to write the book on energy psychology, Figley contacted me and asked if I would like to publish a book. He was on the editorial board of CRC Press and asked me to send him a table of contents. The proposal was accepted, and in 1998 I published Energy Psychology: Explorations at the Interface of Energy, Cognition, Behavior, and Health. While the term Power Therapies had been used at the time to designate efficient approaches including TFT and EMDR, this energy psychology term caught on in view of its wider implications, and probably because it was the first horse out of the barn. Still there are some who would prefer a different term for various reasons, including not favoring the psychology term, not to mention energy. While not everyone who practices therapy is licensed as a psychologist, and some believe that this term limits them, I don’t see it that way at all. I offered the energy psychology term as theoretical and as an umbrella term, essentially indicating that the substrate of psychological functioning and psychological problems is energetic. So, in my humble opinion, it’s more a matter of theory and psychophysics rather than licensure statute. Unfortunately, politics seems to taint everything these days.
After writing my first book, it became clear to me that there was a need for books that covered my specific approach, one for the general public, and one that focused on the neuroscience connections. Thus, in 2000, I published Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods, Energy Tapping (with Harry Vincenzi), and The Neurophysics of Human Behavior (with Mark Furman). It also became clear to me that with all the people entering the energy psychology arena, an edited volume was in order; so, in 2002 Energy Psychology in Psychotherapy: A Comprehensive Source Book emerged. Unfortunately, a few people that I wanted to write chapters, Gary Craig included, declined for various reasons. I also invited several professional to publish in the W. W. Norton Energy Psychology Series, which included two of my books, Creative Energies (Hover-Kramer, 2002), Energy Psychology and EMDR (Hartung and Galvin, 2003), and Evolving Thought Field Therapy (Diepold, Bender, and Britt, 2004). In 2005, a second revised edition of Energy Psychology was published, as well as a second edition of Energy Tapping in 2008. In 2007, I published Energy Tapping for Trauma.
Stepping back some, in 1999, I was invited by Dr. Willem Lammers to present on energy psychology in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. It was around that time that my first book was being noticed. Then in 2000, I was contacted by Alfred Schutz, a German publisher who was visiting at Stanford University and stumbled across Energy Psychology at the campus book store. He called me, offering praise for the publication and expressing interest in publishing it in German. I told him that I had three books at the time, and he enthusiastically indicated that he wanted to publish all of them. Therefore, I connected him with my publishers. And thus, knowledge of energy psychology began to spread in Germany and German-speaking countries.
A year later, I was contacted by Dr. Gunther Schmidt, an Ericksonian and systemic psychotherapist from Heidelberg, Germany. He had received a copy of Energetische Psychologie, the German translation of my 1998 book Energy Psychology. I recall him saying that he read my book, applied the techniques, and emphasized that “It works!” He also humbly said, “And I don’t know what I’m doing!” So, he invited me to present at an Ericksonian Conference in Bad Orb, Germany, as well as a two-day introduction to this work in Heidelberg. It was quite gratifying to experience the high level of interest that the German’s had in this work, with many hundreds attending my presentations at the conference. There I also had the opportunity to meet Dr. Erickson’s wife Betty, as well as several of his children, granddaughter, Earnest Rossi, and other proponents of his work. Also, initially Dr. Schmidt thought that the two-day seminar in Heidelberg would only attract maybe 35 participants, but about 140 attended and my presentation was filmed. As a result of this seminar that taught some muscle testing and algorithms, about 120 signed up to attend my 8-day certification training in AEP/EDxTM. Afterwards, I began offering this and other related training in many areas of Germany and other European countries for well over a decade. This has also been a continuing opportunity to spread the word about energy psychology throughout Europe by authorized trainers and myself.
In 2003, after returning from a training in Germany, I saw Tony Robbins discussing his products on television. I recall asking my wife what she thought of him, and also telling her that I would like to connect with him. I used to believe that he was just an opportunist, but I was now getting the strong sense that he was coming from a higher spiritual purpose. Amazingly, without any obvious effort on my part, within a couple weeks I received a phone call from an assistant of Tony Robbins inviting me to present to a special group in Fiji! How did that happen?! Anyway, I accepted, and Tony and I have developed a friendship ever since that time. He told me that he and his wife Sage had been going through stress and he found tapping helpful, which prompted him inviting me to come to his place in Fiji. After that, I presented with him in Las Vegas, and also at various locations in Africa. I have also consulted to him on a number of occasions.
Passing the Baton
With all the teaching I was doing in Europe and Canada, for me the US took a back seat, except for a presentation here and there. Luckily for the advancement of the field, others stepped up to the plate, besides the fact that Dr. Callahan and his wife Joanne continued to certify practitioners in TFT. The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) was founded in 1999, and it has helped to promote the field by offering forums for various energy psychology and energy medicine approaches, while also being receptive to other emerging methods as well. Also, around the same time Sharon and Meyer Toole began offering EP conferences that have advanced the field throughout Canada. Some of the most visible EP proponents are covered in this volume, although there are many others in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia not listed here. I hesitate to start listing, since I would run out of space and might overlook some who have made wonderful contributions to the field.
Over the years I have connected with so many wonderful people who seek to contribute to the welfare of others through practicing and teaching different versions of energy psychology and energy medicine. I have also been on the ACEP board as a board member and even president for two years. I’ve been involved with that organization since its conception and continue to advise and present at the conferences. I’ve also been involved with the energy psychology conferences in Canada.
Looking Way Way Back
If we step back in time even further, we might wonder about the distant origins of energy psychology and tapping. Approximately 7,000 years ago in India it was discovered or believed that the human body has an energy field extending beyond its physical boundaries—namely, auras or biofields and chakras, which are vortices extending out from or into the material body at key locations. A visual representation of biofields showed up in portraits of saintly people with halos around their heads or entire bodies. Perhaps the artists simply painted the halos to suggest holiness, or possibly they were psychically attuned to actually see the biofields.
Initial scientific investigations in this area were made by Harold Saxon Burr (1976) who employed electronic devices to investigate Life fields or L-fields that were demonstrated to surround humans, animals, trees, and inanimate objects. Valerie V. Hunt (1989) also used electronic equipment to study various biofield manifestations that occur during healing. While biofields may be seen as epiphenomena, possibly they may precede and are more fundamental than the physical body. That is, biofields may be similar to blueprints or molds, which accounts for the bodily form. This position is partly suggested by the fact that approximately every four years our bodies shed every atom and molecule and yet maintain their essential physical structure.
About 4,500 to 5,000 years ago, unknown personage in China came to observe or believe that there exist pathways of energy within the physical body, referred to as meridians. The Chinese designated twelve primary meridians involving organ systems, two collector meridians or vessels, and eight extraordinary vessels. Each is a distinct pathway, along which exist tiny portals where electrical resistance is lower than the surrounding skin. The meridians and vessels were described in the Nei Jing or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. This 24-volume work details two ways of working with the meridians: needles and moxa (an herb that is caused to smolder at the location of acupoints). The basic notion is that chi energy flows through the meridians and vessels, and that they can develop imbalances that result in illness.
We can only guess about how the Chinese posited energy meridians and vessels. To the best of our knowledge, they did not have sophisticated electronic equipment in those days. One possibility is that the pathways were mapped as a result of soldiers being injured in battle. For example, given an injury at a location related to a specific meridian, a chronic physical malady might clear up or improve. Another theory is that tailors accidentally stuck their patrons with needles, and that they came to speculate if being stuck at those locations accounted for the resolution of a physical malady. Still another hypothesis is that the discoverers of meridians possessed extrasensory perceptual abilities that made it possible for them to actually see the energy pathways. (Apparently the discovery of acupoints was not limited to the Chinese, as this knowledge seems to have independently sprung up in many parts of the world.)
The goal of meridian therapies is to reinstate balance and health by addressing key acupoints along disrupted meridians. It should be noted that each meridian has a tonification point, which is used to stimulate the meridian; a sedation point, which is used to sedate the meridian; a source point, which is used to activate the whole of the meridian; and a number of additional types of acupoints. While the meridians are integrally interconnected, indicating that there is only one continuous meridian or meridian system, nonetheless there appears to be some specificity of meridians and acupoints. While meridian-emotional connections are included in the historic five elements theory, more recently Diamond (1985) observed via manual muscle testing that the lung meridian is associated with humility v. intolerance, the gall bladder meridian with love v. rage, and the spleen meridian with confidence v. anxiety about the future. Concerning specific acupoints, for instance, research has shown that the sixth acupoint on the pericardium meridian (PC-6), which is located two inches above the transverse writs crease at the middle of the palmer side of the forearm, is effective in treating motion sickness, morning sickness, and nausea (McMillan, 1998).
In the early 1970’s, Robert O. Becker and colleagues (Becker and Selden 1985) researched electrical skin resistance related to acupoints. He found that many of the acupoints along the pericardium meridian and large intestine meridian lines on the forearms of his subjects evidenced lower electrical resistance as compared to surrounding skin. Additionally, researchers in France (de Vernejoul, Albarede, and Darras, 1985) have provided some radiological evidence for the existence of meridians.
Looking Back to 1905: The Physics of Energy
In 1905, Albert Einstein published four original papers that have transformed our perception of reality. His paper on the photoelectric effect, which won him the Nobel Prize, introduced the quantum of light. He also wrote about Brownian motion, helping to establish the reality of atoms. And then there were the paradigm-shaking special and general theories of relativity. In these papers, he established that while the speed of light is a constant, there are no absolute reference frames or absolute velocities—that the position of the observer determines what can be observed. He also concluded that matter and energy are interconvertible aspects of the same basic reality. Fundamentally everything in the known universe is reducible to energy organized into fields. While subatomic phenomena, such as electrons and photons, can manifest as particles or waves, physicists researching atoms with particle accelerators or “atom smashers” have been unable to discern the most essential particle, again pointing to energy and fields as fundamental to the structure of material reality.
Quantum mechanics is an attempt to explain energy and the mysteriousness of our universe. For example, rather than being a continuous phenomenon, it has been discovered that energy exists discontinuously or in packets referred to as quanta. Additionally, quantum physicists have had to contend with other odd findings about reality, especially the phenomena of complementarity, uncertainty, nonlocality, and information fields.
Complementarity is illustrated by the fact that an electron paradoxically will reveal itself as either a particle or a wave, depending upon the experiment conducted to observe it. Electrons and other subatomic elements appear to be simultaneously particles and waves.
Uncertainty is evident by the fact that if we know the location of a subatomic “particle,” then we can only make probability statements about its speed. Conversely, if we know the speed of a subatomic “particle,” we can only make probability statements about its location.
Regarding nonlocality, there appears to be a holographic interconnection throughout the universe that transcends time, space, and velocity. A number of physics experiments have demonstrated that the communication exchange between “intimately” related photons occurs astronomically faster than light speed, although speed really has nothing to do with it (Aspect and Grangier, 1986; Clauser, Horne and Shimony, 1978; Tittel et al., 1998). The interconnection is practically instantaneous.
Another interesting finding, explicit in the work of Davies (1999) and Prigogine (1996), is that systems become information rich as they are forced farther from equilibrium or symmetry. Conversely, symmetrical systems are information poor. Information appears to be a function of structure and shape and, similar to atoms and molecules, it appears that information is fundamentally a manifestation of energy and fields.
The phenomena of nonlocality, complementarity, uncertainty, and information fields reveal that the universe does not conform to our logic and that perhaps it is saturated with consciousness and choice. Complementarity alone brings to mind the humorously Fireside cartoon in which cows only behave as cows in the field when humans drive by, and otherwise engaging in human-like conversation when humans are no longer in sight. Cow 1 does not equal Cow 2. Only instead of cows, we are observing or not observing the behavior of electrons and other subatomic “particles”. We might have to ask Newton what those particles are up to when we are not observing them.
Looking Back More Recently: Applied Kinesiology
In 1964, George A. Goodheart Jr., a chiropractor from Detroit, Michigan, began to carve out the field of applied kinesiology (AK). He utilized manual muscle testing from physical therapy (Kendell and Kendell, 1949) to assess the integrity of various systems throughout the body, not merely the physiological status of the isolated muscle. The commonsense assumption here is that the body is an integrated whole and that interconnection exists among the various systems, which are fundamentally useful but artificial distinctions. If a muscle tests on or “strong,” obviously this has different implications than if it tests off or “weak.” In addition to discovering that weakness in a muscle can be caused by hypertonicity in an opposing muscle, he also found that the hypertonic or hypotonic muscle can be respectively relaxed or strengthened by addressing neurolymphatic reflexes, neurovascular reflexes, cranial faults, exogenous substances, and the acupuncture meridian system (Goodheart, 1987; Walther, 1988).
Not surprisingly, Goodheart also found that emotions could be causal in the development, exacerbation, and sustaining of a physical problem. He discovered that he could employ specific neurovascular reflexes, located at the frontal eminence on the forehead, to treat emotional factors. This is referred to as the emotional stress release (ESR) procedure. If there is an emotional component to a condition, testing an associated indicator muscle while challenging the emotional neurovasculars (a procedure called therapy localization), will result in a change in the indicator muscle response. Thereupon either the patient or therapist can hold the ESR points for a period of time to treat the emotional component. In this case it may be helpful, but not essential, that the patient think about the emotional issue while the ESR procedure is being employed. Thus, this procedure also appears to be effective with patients who do not have conscious access to the emotional issue.
In a psychotherapeutic context, ESR can be used to reduce stress associated with issues in the patient’s life, without having to therapy localize and perform manual muscle testing. The patient simply attunes or thinks about the issue (e.g., traumatic memory, phobia, feelings of depression, etc.) and lightly holds the emotional neurovasculars with their fingertips while monitoring decrease in emotional distress. While ESR will usually result in a significant temporary decrease in the level of emotional distress associated with the issue, frequently it results in ongoing emotional relief. I have found that it is often useful and effective to combine ESR with relevant affirmations. For example, while using ESR to treat anger, concomitantly the patient may find it beneficial to affirm “I release myself of this anger” or “There is forgiveness in my heart.”
Life Energy Analysis
In the 1970’s, Dr. John Diamond, a psychiatrist involved in preventative medicine, studied AK and integrated these findings with psychoanalytic understandings, utilizing the acupuncture meridian system to diagnose and treat psychological problems (Diamond, 1985). In recent history, this was the beginning of meridian-based therapy. Diamond’s method, referred to as behavioral kinesiology (BK) to distinguish it from AK, involves assessing the integrity of the patient’s acupuncture meridian system and drawing conclusions about prominent emotional issues involved in the individual’s functioning. He employs a wide array of techniques and modalities to treat emotional factors, including the thymus thump, positive affirmations, music, sounds, gestures, postural adjustments, nutritional supplements, flower essences, and more. He also introduced the concept of “reversal of the body morality,” which represents a significant block to treatment effectiveness. In this regard, the “reversed” person is responding as though what is unhealthy is healthy. Diamond has explored various ways of correcting for this problem; including nutritional supplements, altering negative life decisions, and resolving relevant negative feelings in relationship to one’s mother.
In 1997, I had the opportunity to spend a week with Dr. Diamond, exploring his approach before publishing my first book. I want a chapter on his work, other than by simply reading his books, which I found exceedingly helpful. It was good to spend time with this master and to experience his work directly and personally.
Thought Field Therapy
In 1979, Dr. Roger A. Callahan began to elaborate on certain aspects of Goodheart’s and Diamond’s work. He studied AK and utilized Diamond’s straight arm technique for manual muscle testing (Callahan 1985). As previously noted, his approach was initially referred to as the Callahan Techniques® and later as Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Double-negative testing (Diamond 1985) is used to therapy localize meridian alarm points while the patient attunes the thought field associated with a phobia, trauma, etc. In Callahan’s view, this procedure makes it possible to define the energetic elements or sequences of meridian points involved in a psychological problem. He found that physically tapping on beginning and ending points of meridians would reinstate harmony in the meridian by neutralizing the negative emotions associated with the psychological problem. He also developed diagnostic and treatment procedures to correct psychological reversal, which are essentially blocks to treatment effectiveness. Additionally, Callahan developed a Voice Technology™ for diagnosing and treating clients over the telephone. TFT and energy therapy in general has gone in a myriad of directions, with various clinicians offering their refinements and advancements (Durlacher, 1994; Gallo, 2000, 2002, 2005; Gallo and Vincenzi, 2008; Furman and Gallo, 2000). Many of these approaches have roots in TFT, BK, and AK, combined with other methods.
From 1992 until 1997, I had regular contact with Dr. Callahan, receiving instruction from him and participating in his trainings even as a facilitator. I loved my connection with him, which helped me to grow and to contribute immensely to the welfare of others. As noted earlier, with his blessings I began teaching TFT throughout the US and Canada. His work also inspired me in the development of EDxTM or Advanced Energy Psychology.
Advanced Energy Psychology (AEP)
Influenced by the work of Goodheart (1987), Diamond (1985), Callahan (1985), and others, I developed Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods (EDxTM) in the later 1990s and subsequently referred to this as Advanced Energy Psychology (AEP) (Gallo, 2000). Comparable to BK and TFT, AEP uses muscle testing, therapy localization, and alarm points to diagnose and treat meridian disruptions associated with psychological problems; however, AEP also identifies a variety of psychological reversals, a wider range of acupoints, and does not assume that a sequence of meridian points is needed to correct a problem. Also similar to acupuncture, a single acupoint or clusters of acupoints are often employed.
While AEP is a meridian-based therapy, it also addresses other aspects of the energy system and incorporates a wide variety of cognitive and energetic-based procedures. Other modalities include imagery, affirmations, redecision, identifying and altering core beliefs, music and poetry, and elevating clients’ consciousness of the effects of thought (Gallo, 2000, 2002, 2005).
Algorithms, Causal Diagnosis, and Trauma
Many meridian-based approaches are highly effective and efficient in treating psychological trauma, especially from the accidents or injuries that often trigger chronic rehabilitation conditions. The negative affect erasing method (NAEM, now called Midline Technique (MLT), which I developed, has been found especially safe and effective in this regard. When providing MLT, the therapist asks the patient to briefly think about the trauma (or other emotionally-charged issue) and then tap on or otherwise stimulate the following treatment points: governing vessel-17 (occipital region), governing vessel-20 (top of head), governing vessel-24.5 (the third eye point on the forehead between the eyebrows); governing vessel-26 (under the nose); conception vessel-24 (under the bottom lip); and governing vessel-20 (on the upper sternum). After each round of tapping, the patient re-evaluates the subjective units of distress (SUD). In most instances, I have found that several rounds of MLT will resolve most single-incident traumas. For highly complex and multiple traumas, MLT is used to treat the various components involved. MLT is often usefully combined with simple cognitive procedures, such as the instillation of positive outcomes and beliefs (Gallo, 2000).
Looking Back to the Future: Theoretical Reflections
How can we account for the therapeutic results achieved by stimulating acupoints while attuning a psychological problem (or even physical pain)? Are the specific acupoints relevant or doesn’t it matter where we tap? What does the tapping or other forms of stimulation really do?
A myriad of explanations can be offered to account for the results with meridian-based therapies and other energetic approaches. Placebo effect is one suggested mechanism of action. But if acupoint stimulation produces the rapid, consistent, and profound results that many clinicians report and the research support, it would seem that placebo has little to do with it. Rather, something is being harnessed by these treatments that only occur occasionally when a placebo is administered. After all, that “something” that occurs with placebo effect is not simply an illusion. Perhaps these therapies consistently activate the placebo effect, but then that might negate the essential definition of such a term.
Another explanation is that these methods and techniques simply distract the patient from psychological or physical distress. While some degree of distraction undoubtedly occurs, since it is frequently difficult to maintain focus on the emotional or physical sensations while tapping, this explanation appears to be insufficient when ongoing relief is experienced after the treatment has been completed. Could it be that the tapping result in ongoing distraction long after the tapping has ceased? Doubtful.
Cognitive restructuring is also a viable explanation since changes in thought and perception regularly occur as a result of these treatments. However, it would seem that the cognitive shifts represent a secondary effect after the negative emotion has been relieved. While a positive shift in cognition can serve to support and further actualize healthy psychological functioning, energetic treatments per se do not directly address cognition as the lever for change. Also, while awareness of the associated thoughts and cognitive restructuring are useful in the treatment of pain patients, it is insufficient to account for the alleviation of nociceptive sensations that often occurs with this form of treatment. EDxTM protocols regularly incorporate the outcome projection procedure (OPP), a cognitive-energetic technique, to increase the probability of sustained treatment effects (Gallo, 2000).
In view of the fact that acupoints are being utilized with meridian-based therapies, possibly neurotransmitters such as endogenous opioids sometimes play a role in the treatment effects, similar to what has been proposed with acupuncture (Pomeranz, 1996). While it is likely that peripheral nerve stimulation activates the central nervous system to release endorphins, this hardly discounts the involvement of energetic effects. The question remains about the relationship among specific problems, specific acupoints, and the release of specific neurochemicals. There appears to be a signaling mechanism associated with the acupuncture meridians that figure into such action.
My preferred theoretical explanation is that invariably a whole range of aspects is involved in psychological functioning, healthy or otherwise. While the brain, neurochemistry, and cognition are implicated in psychological problems, these conditions are also perpetuated energetically. I believe that the distinctions among energy, brain, chemistry, emotions, consciousness, cognition, and behavior are in some respects arbitrary but useful distinctions.
Psychological problems can be viewed as energetic informational structures similar to the electromagnetic configurations that adhere to CD’s and computer hard drives. The nervous system electrochemically captures, stores, and replicates sensory information at various levels of abstraction—subtle energy, electromagnetic, chemical, brain physiology, emotion, cognition, linguistic, and external behavior. Since nature constructs complex structures from fractals, at a fundamental level, psychological problems are energetic configurations or field structures. By destabilizing the energetic informational field, the system is prepared to transform into another, preferably healthier structure. Stimulating acupoints while the field is attuned destabilizes it and removes or collapses those elements that trigger the chain of events that result in the psychological or other health problem. Before it can transform into another stabilized informational field, the field must be destabilized. Frequently simple pattern interruption and disruption via energy therapies is sufficient for the system to leap to a higher order of organization. At other times it is useful to instill or reinforce a healthier structure (Gallo, 2000; Furman and Gallo, 2000).
This informational field has also been referred to as a thought field (Callahan and Callahan, 1996). In this respect, a thought is literally a specific kind of field, having a physical reality. It is composed of electromagnetic features as well as subtle energetic markers that can activate emotions. When the field is attuned, these energetic markers are available for treatment. Concurrently, all of the other features of the problem are activated. This includes brain structures, neurochemistry, internal dialogue and other cognitive features, and various behaviors consistent with the state. The application of causal diagnostic procedures, which are germane to more sophisticated meridian-based therapies, makes it possible to elicit the thought field’s structure.
For the most part, emotions are congenitally hard-wired (Nathanson, 1992), with brain structures such as the thalamus and amygdala designed to produce the myriad of emotions. When a trauma or other distressing event occurs, the input is represented in multi-modal sensory form. Simultaneously these emotion-producing brain structures become bonded to the visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, olfactory, and motor information (respondent conditioning). A trauma gestalt is formed, fundamentally held together energetically. When the memory of the trauma is attuned, the entire informational network comprising the trauma is activated. While this structure is activated, tapping on key acupoints sends electromagnetic impulses into the energetic informational field, destabilizing it, collapsing the energetic markers, and severing the stimulus-response bond to the limbic system. Informational structures, similar to other systems, are maintained within a range of energy balance—too much or too little energy causes the structure to collapse. The tapping destabilizes the structure by diverting or overloading the adhesive energetic field. It now becomes possible to view the traumatic event calmly and to incorporate the calmness into a new, transformed gestalt. The memory is basically the same; the experience is transformed. The patient comes to view the event from a higher perspective, with neutrality or deeper positive feelings predominating. Mindfulness prevails.
I think that theoretical explanations along these lines are relevant with regard to any psychological problem and they also account for the genesis of many, if not all, physical diseases. Fundamentally there is an energetic field structure at the basis of physical forms, whether that form constitutes psychological or more obvious physical phenomena. A vision of energy medicine may be diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease at the energetic level. Energy psychology and meridian-based therapies energetically address what has been historically referred to as psychological problems. I think that the distinction between mind and body will come to blur and the fundamental oneness of mind and body will come into focus.
Energy psychology is a revolution in our understanding of psychological functioning and treatment of psychological problems. The astounding efficiency of this modality is tantamount to the developments in physics and cybernetics during the last century that have profoundly advanced technology and medicine. While viewing psychological functioning and treatment from cognitive and behavioral perspectives has proven beneficial, treatment fashioned from an understanding of the energetic substrate offers a fundamental understanding that will advance psychological and other medical practices exponentially. Perhaps energy psychology’s focus on energy and energy fields resonates best with the scientific and medical principle offered by friar William of Ockham: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
Way Back to the Future
What about the future of energy psychology? Will is take hold in a major sustaining way, despite political opposition from some sectors? Will it enter the mainstream of therapy comparable to or even more prolific that psychodynamics, CBT, and neuroscience? Or will energy psychology become relegated to the archives of passing attempts at something or other? I believe that the answer to these questions is a function of motivated persistence, including research developments, helping people regain health and happiness, and getting the word out. I’ve given it a shot and will continue to do so for some time, and many others are carrying out this mission in their own ways. Energy psychology is, in my opinion, a wonderful development that can help alleviate massive amounts of suffering and elevate consciousness. However, I believe that it’s tremendously important to not limit energy psychology to boat-load of techniques, as powerful as they can be. Rather, we shall apply this deeper understanding to peer deeply into the human soul and beyond, into the roots of energy and consciousness. That’s my prediction. Warp Factor 1, Mr. Sulu! Steady as she goes!
Andrade J, Feinstein D. (2003). Preliminary report of the first large scale study of energy psychology. www.emofree.com/research/andradepaper.htm.
Aspect A. and Grangier P. ( )1986. Experiments on Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-type correlations with pairs of visible photons. In Penrose R, Isham CJ (Ed): Quantum concepts in space and time, New York: Oxford University Press.
Becker, R., and Selden, G. (1985). The body electric: Electromagnetism and the foundation of life. New York: William Morrow & Co.
Brown, R.C., Witt, A., Fegert, J.M., Keller, F., Rassenhofer, M. & Plener, P.L. (2017). Psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents after man-made and natural disasters: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Psychological Medicine 47, 1893– 1905. doi:10.1017/S0033291717000496
Burr, H.S. (1976). Blueprint for immortality: The electric patterns of life, Essex, England: Saffron Walden.
Callahan, R.J. (1981). Psychological reversal. Collected papers of the International College of Applied Kinesiology.
Callahan, R.J. (1985). Five minute phobia cure. Wilmington, DE: Enterprise.
Callahan, R.J. (1986). Successful treatment of phobias and anxiety by telephone and radio. Collected Papers of International College of Applied Kinesiology.
Callahan, R.J. (1996). The case of Mary. Electronic Journal of Traumatology, 3:1; Article 5.
Callahan, R.J. and Callahan, J. (1996). Thought field therapy and trauma: Treatment and theory, Indian wells, CA: Author.
Callahan, R. J (2001). Tapping the healer within: Using thought field therapy to instantly conquer your fears, anxieties and emotional distress. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books.
Callahan, R.J. (2001) Thought Field Therapy: Response to our critics and a scrutiny of some old ideas of social science. J. Clinical Psychology 57(10): 1251-60.
Clauser J.F., Horne M.A., and Shimony A. 1978. Bell’s theorem: experimental tests and implications, Reports on Progress in Physics, 41, 1881-1927.
Clond, M. (2016). Emotional Freedom Techniques for anxiety: A systematic review with meta-
analysis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (in press).
Craig, G. (1999). Emotional freedom techniques: The manual (3rd ed.). El Paso: Mediacopy.
Davies P. (1999). The fifth miracle: The search for the origins and meaning of life, New York: Simon & Schuster.
de Vernejoul P., Albarede .P, and Darras, J.C. (1985). Etude des meridiens d’acupuncture pas les traceurs radioactifs [Study of the acupuncture meridians with radioactive tracers], Bulletin of the Academy of National Medicine (Paris), 169, 1071-75.
Diamond, J. (1985). Life energy: Using the meridians to unlock the hidden power of your emotions. St. Paul, Minn.: Paragon House.
Diepold, J.H., Britt, V., & Bender, S.S. (2004) Evolving thought field therapy: The clinician’s handbook of diagnoses, treatment, and theory. New York: W.W. Norton.
Durlacher JV. 1994. Freedom from fear forever, Tempe, AZ: Van Ness.
Figley, C. R. and Carbonell, J.L. (1995). Active Ingredients Project: The Systematic Clinical Demonstration of the Most Efficient Treatments of PTSD. Tallahassee, FL. Florida State University Psychosocial Research Program and Clinical Laboratory. Reported in F. P. Gallo, Energy Psychology, New York: CRC Press, 18-25, 1998.
Furman, M.E., and Gallo, F.P. (2000). The neurophysics of human behavior: Explorations at the interface of brain, mind, behavior, and information. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Gallo, F. (1994a). Thought field therapy level 1 (and associated methods): Training manual. Hermitage, PA: Author.
Gallo, F. (1994b). Thought field therapy level 2 (and associated methods): Training manual. Hermitage, PA: Author.
Gallo, F. P. (1996a). Reflections on active ingredients in efficient treatments of PTSD, Part 1. Electronic Journal of Traumatology, 2(1). Available from http://www.fsu.edu/~trauma/.
Gallo, F. P. (1996b). Reflections on active ingredients in efficient treatments of PTSD, Part 2. Electronic Journal of Traumatology, 2(2). Available from http://www.fsu.edu/~trauma/.
Gallo, F.P. (1997). A no-talk cure for trauma: thought field therapy violates all the rules. The Family Therapy Networker, 21(2), 65-75.
Gallo, F. P. (1999). Energy psychology: Explorations at the interface of energy, cognition, behavior, and health (first edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Gallo, F.P. (2000). Energy diagnostic and treatment methods. New York: W.W. Norton.
Gallo, F.P., and Vincenzi, H. (2000). Energy tapping: How to rapidly eliminate anxiety, depression, cravings, and more using energy psychology. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Gallo, F. P. (Ed.). (2002). Energy psychology in psychotherapy: A comprehensive sourcebook. New York: W.W. Norton.
Gallo, F. P. (2003). Meridian-based psychotherapy. In E. Leskowitz (Ed.) Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Rehabilitation. St. Louis: Churchill Livingstone, Pp. 215-225.
Gallo, F. P. (2005). Energy Psychology: Explorations at the Interface of Energy, Cognition, Behavior, and Health (Second Edition), Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Gallo, F. P. (2007). Energy Tapping for Trauma. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Gerbode, F. (1988). Beyond psychology: An introduction to metapsychology. PaloAlto: IRM Press.
Gilomen, S. A. & Lee, C. W. (2015). The efficacy of acupoint stimulation in the treatment of psychological distress: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 48, 140-148.
Goodheart, G.J. (1987). You’ll be better. Geneva, OH: Author.
Hover-Kramer, D. (2002). Creative energies: Integrative energy psychotherapy for self-expression and healing. New York: W.W. Norton.
Hunt, V.V. (1989). Infinite mind: Science of the human vibrations of consciousness, Malibu, CA: Malibu Publishing.
Kendell, H.O. and Kendell, F.M.P. (1949). Muscles: Testing and function, Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins
McMillan, C.M. (1998). Acupuncture for nausea and vomiting. In: Filshie J, White A, editors: Medical acupuncture: A western scientific approach. New York: Churchill Livingston.
Nathanson, D.L. (1992). Shame and pride: Affect, sex, and the birth of the self, New York: Norton.
Pomeranz B. (1996). Acupuncture and the raison d’etre for alternative medicine, Alternative Therapies 2(6), 84-91.
Prigogine I. (1996). The end of certainty: Time, chaos, and the new laws of nature, New York: The Free Press.
Radomski, S. (1999). Allergy Antidotes™ – The Energy Psychology Treatment of Allergy-like Reactions. Jenkintown, PA.
Sakai, C., Paperny, D. Mathews, M., Tanida G., Boyd G., Simons A., Yamamoto, C., Mau,
C., Nutter, L. (2001) Thought Field Therapy clinical application: Utilization in an HMO in
behavioral medicine and behavioral health services. J. Clinical Psychology, 57(10), 1215-27.
Sebastian, B., & Nelms, J. (2017). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 13(1), 16-25. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2016.10.001
Tittel W, Brendel J, Zbinden H, and Gisin N. 91998). Violations of Bell inequalities more than 10km apart, Physical Review Letters, 81, 3563-3566.
Waite, L.W. & Holder, M.D. (2003). Assessment of the emotional freedom technique: An alternative treatment for fear. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 2 (1) 20-26.
Walther, D. S. (1988). Applied kinesiology synopsis. Pueblo, CO: Systems DC.
Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews, H., Carrington, P., & Baker, A.H. (2003). Evaluation of a meridian-based intervention, emotional freedom techniques (EFT), for reducing specific phobias of small animals. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 59(9), 943-966.