What Is Energy Psychology?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated July 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Energy psychology is an umbrella term used to cover several psychology modalities, all of which promote the notion of a field of energy in the human body that can be manipulated, charged, or altered to promote healing. Energy psychology borrows from several thought processes, melding scientific notions of healing and wellness and more traditional notions, such as those found in Chinese medicine and certain religious or spiritual practices. 

A common word used to describe the energy field in energy psychology is bioenergy, which describes the energetic relationships in human beings, linking systems of behavior, thought, emotions, and sensations. Not everyone believes in energy psychology, but it may be an effective practice for those who feel it connects with their belief system. 

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What is energy psychology?

Within the comprehensive energy psychology field, various mind-body practices are used to promote healing. One of the most known types of energy psychology is acupuncture, in which specific points (or meridians) are stimulated via thin, inserted needles to promote healing. Whatever the actual physical or emotional practice, the result is designed to be the same: healing the individual's energetic system.

Some types of energy healing have been around for thousands of years, while others are new to the field of psychology. Energy therapies from all periods tend to come from a holistic health perspective, asserting that the body's natural state is one of health and balance and that imbalances in energy can result in illness, discomfort, and mental decline. Energy psychology attempts to improve energy flow and balance to repair the body's ability to maintain a healthy state.

Although energy psychology is a modern field, many ancient medicinal practices operated under the notion of an overarching energetic system within the body and believed imbalances or blockages in this system were responsible for some ailments. Energy psychology does not take a broad perspective regarding ill health and healing but is a proponent of restoring balance and healing to an altered or impaired mental state.

What impacts human energy?

Human energetic systems are impacted by several factors, according to energy psychology (EP). Physical health, environment, culture, and interpersonal relationships may all affect an individual's energetic system. The idea of ill health within energy psychology is that the meridians or chakras through which energy runs are clogged, weighed down, or otherwise unsupported, creating blockages and corresponding malaise. 

Blockages might be caused by external factors, such as an environmental change, but are often attributed to more emotional or traumatic events, such as losing a loved one, fear of rejection, or an unstable childhood. While incorrectly diverted or blocked energy may not show up immediately, energy psychology practitioners assert that symptoms develop soon after a catalyst, ranging from phantom pain to more complex and powerful emotional responses and disorders. 

Energy psychology seeks to restore balance to one's energetic system to optimize health. Like other psychological healing practices, energy psychology is not advertised as a one-time cure for mental health conditions and may require ongoing therapy. Even after treatment has finished, clients may be recommended for additional therapy to maintain the healthy state discovered during active treatment. Some therapeutic techniques within energy therapy are encouraged to be implemented by the client to maximize healing potential.

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How does energy therapy work?

Some people seek energy therapy for a mental illness or specific symptom, like anxiety. Anxiety symptoms can be mild, such as a slightly elevated pulse in social situations, or severe, resulting in difficulty leaving the house or engaging in social interactions. Depression can also be symptomatic of energy disruption, as can other mood disorders. 

Energy psychology does not delve into the physical symptoms of energy blockages unless these symptoms are perceived to be psychosomatic. Instead, energy psychology emphasizes the behavioral and emotional symptoms of energy disturbances. Some studies have found these techniques helpful in assisting clients with a traumatic past or anxiety. Clients can focus on a specific event or experience as a therapist administers pressure or taps to the body's meridians. 

Types of energy-based therapy

There are many therapeutic modalities focused on energy healing, including the following:  

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the oldest energetic healing methods and is a significant component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture was used for both mental and physical ailments and continues to be used to relieve emotional and physical pain. Acupuncture can be an effective healing method but may also prove difficult for people with a phobia of needles or pain.

Acupressure 

Acupressure is a subtype of acupuncture relying on deep pressure rather than punctures to move and manipulate energy. Acupressure may be helpful for individuals who experience an intense fear of needles and cannot engage in healing through acupuncture. Acupressure points on the body are the same as acupuncture points, and the treatment may be self-administered.

Emotional freedom techniques (EFT) 

Emotional freedom techniques (EFT) function similarly to acupuncture and acupressure in that they typically aim to tap into certain energy meridians in the body to release energetic blockages and restore health. While acupuncture and acupressure rely on needles and pressure, emotional techniques typically employ a gentle tapping motion, administered using the pads of your fingers. This therapeutic method is often taught to clients to use at home. 

Thought field therapy 

Thought field therapy (TFT) is a type of energy psychology that focuses on tapping specific energy centers. TFT is the emotional freedom technique's predecessor and requires different tapping sequences and rhythms based on the client's specific needs, while EFT requires only a single, multi-use rhythm. Like the emotional freedom technique, thought field therapy uses imagined exposure to recall traumatic events and the bodily and emotional responses they invoke to work through trauma.

At-home techniques 

Aside from acupuncture, energy psychologists employ techniques that allow clients to administer energy therapy at home or outside of clinical settings. One of the potential benefits of this practice is that clients can employ therapeutic practices regularly without having to wait for the assistance of their therapist. 

Reiki healing 

Reiki is an energy-based practice based on manipulating energy with movements of the hands. Although it is often considered a spiritual practice, it may benefit some people. Studies have proven that reiki is more effective than a placebo and may be a valuable addition to alternative therapeutic practices. 

Is energy therapy effective? 

Energy therapy may be sought out after traditional therapeutic methods have not worked. In addition, clients may seek this type of thought therapy if it aligns with their religious, cultural, or spiritual needs. Whether energy therapy is effective for you may depend on what you look for in therapy practice and whether you believe in energy work as a concept. 

While some consider the thought field therapy practices employed in energy psychology controversial, studies have demonstrated a measurable decrease in stress after attending energy therapy, which can hold up over time. Although anxiety is not the only condition treated by energy therapy, it is the most studied, as the stress hormone (cortisol) is easily measured in the body. 

The reduction in anxiety symptoms through energy therapy demonstrates the efficacy of energy healing in at least one area. It offers some hope for those with a mental illness who might be interested in this type of therapy. 

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Support options 

The goal of energy therapy is often to restore balance to an imbalanced system. Energy psychology can create a whole-body health experience and may encourage positive lifestyle habits in conjunction with treatment. If you want to learn more about energy psychology, consider contacting a licensed therapist. 

Some people may consider energy therapy as an alternative to traditional therapy if they face barriers to treatment. If you're facing financial or availability barriers to treatment, consider reaching out to a provider through a platform like BetterHelp. Online therapy can connect you with providers practicing various modalities you can talk to from home. In addition, you can message your therapist throughout the week if you have any concerns outside of your session.

If you're unsure about the effectiveness of online therapy, you can also look at studies that have backed up its results. One study found that clients experienced significant post-session relaxation after experiencing energy-healing therapy. In addition, their pain was reduced, and they experienced feelings of joy, peace, and calm. 

Takeaway

A branch of psychology that focuses on the energy systems in the body, known as energy psychology, may yield healing results for the treatment of trauma and anxiety. Energy psychology is a unique subset of psychology that explores how energy may impact individuals. 

One modality focusing on the energy systems to improve mental health is thought field therapy, TFT. This field therapy is possible through online therapy platforms. Additionally, Reiki, acupuncture, and EFT may effectively treat mental health conditions. However, some of these practices may be controversial. Speak with your primary care physician before trying alternative treatments. If you want to learn more about how therapy might support you, consider contacting a therapist for further guidance.

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