White, I. C. (2015). It helps me to love my work: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the senior therapist experience of using Energy Psychology in psychotherapy for trauma (Master’s thesis). Dublin Business School, Ireland.
Energy psychology is a novel and controversial family of mind/body approaches used in the treatment of a variety of psychological disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. The approaches are based on combining concepts from traditional Chinese medicine with simple cognitive interventions. Initial empirical investigation supports claims of efficacy. The aim of this study is to expand and enrich existing research about the use of energy psychology in psychotherapy for trauma, through analysing the accounts of three experienced psychotherapists. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was applied to the central research question: How does Energy Psychology impact and inform the life and work of experienced psychotherapists who use Energy Psychology in the treatment of trauma?
Four themes emerged: transformation; paradigm shift; state of presence; and spiritual realization. The participants attributed significant changes in their understanding of psychotherapeutic change, personal philosophy, and overall contentment in life to their experience of using energy psychology, leading to the central hypothesis of this study – energy psychology has the potential to catalyse a process of transformation that results in a lived experience of serenity and flourishing.
Two new understandings of underlying mechanisms that contribute to the efficacy of energy psychology are theorized: 1) energy psychology shares mechanisms in common with meditative practices that may contribute to positive impacts on autonomic dysregulation; 2) energy psychology provides a manual technique that supports the process known as focusing. Non-specific factors that are common to many forms of psychotherapy also contribute to efficacy.
Energy psychology is a suitable treatment in evidence based practice for clients presenting with trauma who: 1) do not favour or may experience re-traumatization during exposure or reliving experiences; 2) are at risk of decompensation due to flooding of traumatic material in the early stages of treatment.