Energy Healing – A Closer Look
Energy healing – it’s a term that carries a certain “woo-woo” factor. I know the first time I heard someone identify themselves in this way, I was skeptical. Perhaps you’ve had a similar reaction?
Part of the reason why relates to how some people hold themselves out to the public as having supernatural powers, used to cure all sorts of ailments.
That’s unfortunate because, in the legitimate sense, energy healing has been around for thousands of years. Moreover, it has been used to help many people with various life challenges, including anxiety, pain, fear, and worry.
When you break it all down to its basic core, energy healing is nothing more than a form of energy psychology; an approach to wellness that is supported by some clinical evidence.
What Is Energy Psychology?
Energy psychology uses narrative imagery to encourage the conscious and subconscious mind to reduce hyperarousal. Adapted from non-western cultures, energy healing seeks to encourage mind-body wellness.
Holistic in nature, energy healing stirs your body’s many energy systems to promote greater flow and remove blockages. Once accomplished, your body’s natural ability to create homeostasis is empowered, thereby stimulating healing.
An example of energy psychology is tapping, also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Using this approach, specific energy points (meridians) on the body are tapped to reduce anxiety and stress-related symptoms.
To learn more, see this study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (Dawson, Yount, & Brooks, 2012).
Energy Healing Is Based On Scientific Principles
When you experience energy healing, you are leaning into the basic principles of science. You may recall from high school science classes that all matter, including you, is made up of tiny particles called atoms.
At all times, these particles fluctuate and “vibe out” a specific frequency. If you’ve never seen an atom before, I encourage you to watch this video on YouTube for a visual example.
The idea behind energy psychology is to help create energy balance and greater frequency attunement.
On a baser level, this makes intrinsic sense. Have you ever been in the presence of someone whose energy turned you off, making you want to leave? Conversely, have you ever been near someone who had magnetic qualities?
If the answer is yes, you unknowingly tapped into their energy field; an invisible aura that surrounds all living matter. It’s that simple.
The critical thing to bear in mind is that everything holds energy, including your thoughts.
Energy Healing: How it Calms and Lessens Anxiety
The main reason you arrived on this page is to learn how energy psychology (which I am using interchangeably with energy healing) can help to ameliorate anxiety and reduce stress.
My hope in penning this piece is to dispel common myths and increase insight.
In all that follows, keep in mind that energy healing is most effective when combined with traditional treatment approaches, such as modern medicine and scientifically backed forms of talk-therapy, such as CBT.
In this way, energy healing should be thought of as an adjunct to these therapies and not a stand-alone approach.
Let’s look at the 10 ways energy healing may help with anxiety and pain.
1. Lessen the intensity of panic
If you struggle with panic as part of a panic disorder, energy psychology may help to reduce feelings of dread and minimize the associated triggers.
This happens by:
- Teaching you how to calm yourself through mindfulness.
- Assisting you in creating new ways of thinking about problems.
- Grounding you in the here and now during moments of fear while centering you in the present.
2. Ameliorate pain
If you live with different forms of pain, energy healing may help to reduce symptoms.
A 2011 study appearing in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care revealed Reiki significantly lowered the intensity of pain for participants (Birocco, Guillame, & Storto, 2011).
This may happen by:
- Infusing touch therapy onto areas of pain.
- Offering a safe place to discharge negative energy safely.
- Teaching you a coping tool for intense moments of pain.
3. Lessen ritualistic behaviors
Behaviors that become ritualistic and are compulsive in nature can sometimes fall under the category of OCD. Through the Emotional Freedom Technique [EFT], also known as tapping, you may be able to reduce ritualistic behaviors.
This can happen by:
- Learning a new skill to cope with intrusive thoughts.
- Teaching you how to observe thoughts rather than act on them.
- Guiding you through breathing techniques that lower the need to carry out a compulsion.
4. Coping with phobias
Some people experience a strong fear response to specific objects, activities, or things. As a result, panic can occur that can be paralyzing in nature.
An example might be having a phobic response to a large dog or becoming enveloped with fear while visiting the dentist.
According to a 2010 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Research in Gerontological Nursing, partaking in Reiki may help with some forms of anxiety (Richeson, Spross, Lutz, & Peng, 2010).
This may happen by:
- Reducing your phobic response through mental exposure therapy that is paired with tapping.
- Helping you to develop breathing strategies as a tool for working through panic.
- Teaching you meditation skills so that thoughts about a feared object become less intense.
People who struggle with social anxiety often experience intense fears around social situations or when they are expected to perform in front of a group.
An example might be walking through a crowded street fair or giving a presentation to colleagues.
Energy healing might help by:
- Teaching you breathing skills that can be employed at the onset of panic.
- Becoming paired with traditional components of acceptance and commitment therapy to lessen the intensity of fear.
- Helping you to de-couple negative thoughts connected to a phobic object.
6. Working through PTSD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health concern that affects millions of people each year.
Survivors of abuse, military veterans, and persons involved with life threatening situations often experience crippling symptoms as a result.
Energy healing may help by:
- Remediating symptoms of PTSD for suffers and their significant others (see research).
- Helping you to reframe a traumatic event through Thought Field Therapy (TAT).
- Assisting you with de-intensifying intrusive thoughts.
7. Lessening symptoms of IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. Suffers often experience symptoms of cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.
Energy healing, a complementary alternative medicine, may help to ameliorate IBS flare-ups and reduce symptoms according to some scientific research (Kearney & Brown-Chang, 2008).
This is accomplished by:
- Helping you to develop mindful strategies for remaining calm.
- Employing touch therapy as a therapeutic calming tool.
- Assisting you by de-intensifying stressful thoughts.
8. Building inner-confidence
Research has shown that a lack of self-esteem can be a contributing factor for certain forms of anxiety. Energy psychology may help you to become more confident and less anxious.
This is accomplished by:
- Encouraging you to repeat self-affirmations designed to boost self-concept.
- Guiding you to establish healthy self-care rituals designed to increase self-worth.
- Creating healthier thoughts about your special place in humanity and encouraging self-compassion.
9. Stop nervous eating
A lot of people gravitate towards food when they are nervous or anxious. As a result, they gain unwanted pounds. Through energy healing, you may find it possible to change your relationship with food.
This is accomplished by:
- Helping you to visualize food as a source of sustenance instead of a coping tool for stress.
- Reinforcing healthier food choices.
- Providing you a powerful coping tool when confronted with cravings for foods that are difficult to bypass. See this tapping video to learn more.
10. Creating a more peaceful life
The final way energy healing may help you with anxiety and pain is by helping you to create a calmer life.
Through tapping, meditation, touch therapy, and mindfulness, cleansing and healing your root chakras is possible.
This can happen by:
- Introducing you to new, mindfulness-based skills that are designed to reduce stress.
- Being combined with other approaches to wellness, such as meditation and hypnotherapy to reduce anxiety.
- Helping you to feel a sense of empowerment over your life situation.
How To Find An Energy Healer
If your goal is to learn energy healing techniques, working with a reiki master may work just fine. You can also buy books on the topic. One of my favorites is Energy Medicine by Tarcher (see Amazon for price).
However, if you are seeking treatment for a mental health issue or medical problem, you should look for a licensed professional with training in energy psychology. Some clinicians hold certifications in this area from places like the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.
Common Energy Healing Myths
Sadly, there are a number of myths associated with energy healing, thanks to online charlatans and inaccurate representations on television and in films.
Below, I’ve outlined some of the major fallacies. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Only shaman can practice energy healing
- The best energy healers are Pisces men.
- Crystals must be used with energy healing.
- Energy psychology hasn’t been clinically researched.
- It’s not possible to combine energy healing with western medicine.
- Only wise “old souls” can practice energy healing.
- One must first experience spiritual healing before partaking in any forms of energy psychology.
I encourage you to learn all that you can about mindfulness- based approaches to wellness, including what’s been described above.
A basic tenet of energy healing is that every living creature in the universe has a unique vibration. Through attunement, it is possible to create inner-peace and healthier living.
But to receive the benefits of energy healing, you must have an open mind.
Birocco, N., Guillame, C., & Storto, S. (2011). The Effects of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Patients Attending a Day Oncology and Infusion Services Unit. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, 290-294.
Dawson, C., Yount, G., & Brooks, A. (2012). The Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques on Stress Biochemistry: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The journal of nervous and mental disease.
Kearney, D., & Brown-Chang, J. (2008). Complementary and alternative medicine for IBS in adults: mind–body interventions. Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 624-636.
Richeson, N., Spross, J., Lutz, K., & Peng, C. (2010). Effects of Reiki on Anxiety, Depression, Pain, and Physiological Factors in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 187-199.