by Fred P. Gallo, Ph.D.
Imagine visiting a therapist and coming away completely relieved of the trauma, depression, phobia, anxiety, or whatever your malady may be. Imagine if that could be accomplished within one or a very few sessions--or even possibly within a few minutes. Wouldn't that efficiency be more to most people's liking? No doubt!
Over the past seventeen years, I have found that usually I can assist clients in achieving this ideal. People enter my office with a psychological problem and leave without it. Frequently similar results can be achieved with some physical problems such as headaches, back pain, and even jaw pain. While a certain amount of talking is involved, the curative aspect of the therapy is not the talking at all, but rather through the activation or correction of an increasingly coming-to-be-known bodily energy system. This is the same system that brought you acupuncture and that makes regeneration and physical healing possible. But more on that later--first a few brief cases to consider.
The Case of Barbara
Fifteen years ago I had the opportunity to see Barbara, a 33-year-old patient whom I had treated many years previously. While the earlier treatment was of benefit to her, there was an event that occurred in her childhood for which I was not able to help. That event was a rape. She was 13 at the time and an 18 or 19 year old boyfriend forced himself on her. She never told her parents about it but suffered silently. She would frequently experience nightmares, turned to drugs and alcohol, and in most ways was highly depressed. She believed that she was not worthwhile and, as perplexing as it may seem, she even blamed herself for the rape.
When Barbara returned to see me, she was upset about some recent altercations with her mother. This was causing her to recall a number of distressing memories concerning their relationship. After listening to her concerns, I explained that I had been doing a new form of therapy that involved having patients tap on specific points on their bodies to relieve their problems. I suggested that we do this for her, and she was agreeable. Within a matter of a few minutes she was feeling much calmer, not distressed in the least about her mother. She felt more positive and hopeful about their relationship.
Next I broached the subject of the rape, asking if it still bothered her. Immediately Barbara began to cry. She was obviously still distressed about the rape and made many statements about it being her fault, about the fact that she never listened to her mother, and so on. Barbara's behavior at that moment created the impression that she re-entered the 13-year-old girl who was traumatized many years ago.
With her permission, I guided her to tap at various points on her body: between her eyebrows, under her eyes, beneath her collarbones, on edges of certain fingernails, and the like. Within a few minutes of this treatment, I observed a miraculous transformation in Barbara. All signs of distress were erased from her face. There was now calmness, serenity. She reached over to my desk and took a Kleenex and dried the tears from her face. Then she sat calmly, looking at me with a relaxed, peaceful expression. It is an understatement to say that I was amazed at what I was witnessing. I asked Barbara, not very successfully concealing my amazement, "How do you feel?" Her response was a simple, "Fine." As if to say, "What makes you ask?"
"What about what happened to you?" I asked, referring to the rape.
"It's just something that happened to me when I was a kid," she said calmly.
"You were raped!" I exclaimed. "Doesn't that bother you now?"
Barbara shook her head and simply said, "No it doesn't."
I wanted to test the stability of this apparent transformation, so I asked her again, "Do you still think you were to blame?"
"No," she said congruently. "I wasn't to blame. If anything, he was. But that's all over with now." I was totally and utterly amazed! Dumbfounded! Blown away! I had never seen such a remarkable change occur in such a short period of time. Practically immediately! I saw Barbara several times after that and also phoned her in follow-up for several years. That trauma has never bothered her since. All the talking we had done previously, all the visualizations, all the attempts at getting her to think more "rationally" about the rape, all of the previous emoting, etc. None of it did anything as compared to a few minutes of tapping, which quickly changed how she felt and thought about the rape and herself.
Another horribly traumatic event: A firefighter came to see me about a problem he had with anger. While we were successfully treating this issue, he came in one day reporting inability to sleep for several days and a general feeling of depression related to a traumatic event that he witnessed the previous week. He had reported to the scene of an automobile accident in which many people were badly injured and a young girl was killed. He assisted in removing the body of the young girl. The memory was plaguing him. Understandably he could not get this off his mind. After discussing the appropriateness of being relieved of this painful memory, I again applied a tapping routine similar to what had been done to help Barbara. It only took about two or three minutes. The memory no longer bothered him. We were both able to recognize that the event was a sad and tragic one, but my client was no longer devastated by it. In a follow-up visit two weeks later he reported that the fire station had a "trauma session" for the firefighters who were present at the scene of this accident. They were supposed to talk about the event, let it all hang out and come to a healthy acceptance and understanding. My client informed me that although he could understand the possible value of the group session, he had already arrived at acceptance and understanding. He felt that the session at the fire station was not really necessary for him. He was certainly cured of this painful memory. Again follow-up over the course of several months revealed no recurrence of emotional distress when reviewing this memory.
Several years ago I presented training for professional therapists in Heidelberg, Germany. At the close of the morning of the first day, one of the participants approached me to apologize that she would not be able to attend the remainder of the training since she was suffering from severe pain in her jaw that made it impossible for her to concentrate. Given her description, I assumed that she was suffering from tempromandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ, which can result in rather excruciating pain. She indicated that she was receiving treatment from a dentist and that he was going to give her a splint to wear at night.
I asked her if she would like me to apply my methods to possibly relieve the pain, to which she was skeptical but quite agreeable. So I took her though a treatment that involved tapping on specific acupoints on the back of her hand and under a collarbone. Given persistent treatment for approximately ten minutes, she reported that the pain was gone. I then reviewed the treatment with her and recommended that she practice it whenever pain returned, which she did with diligence. On the morning of the second day, she indicated that the pain had not returned. She remained throughout the three-day training and returned for the second section of the training a couple months later. At that time she reported that she did not have to repeat the treatments and that her jaw pain was cured. She said that her dentist was amazed.
The Body's Energy System
The therapy provided to Barbara, the Fireman, the workshop trainee, as well as to several thousand other individuals over the past several years is based on the fact that the body has an energy system that follows pathways referred to as meridians. These meridians are said to interact with a number of more concentrated energy centers called chakras, as well as with detectable energy fields around the body. And if energy really does pervasively saturate every cubic centimeter of space throughout the universe, as physicists Albert Einstein and David Bohm informed us, the meridians are part and parcel of our connection with each other, as well as to everything else for that matter. But that's another story. Before explaining the basis of this energy tapping more fully, let us consider some facts about acupuncture.
Acupuncture and Meridians
Five thousand years ago give or take a century or two, an anonymous person or persons in China discovered that the body has an energy system that follows specific pathways that are referred to as meridians. Predating the Chinese findings by a couple thousand years the same energy system was elucidated in India. There is also evidence that similar knowledge sprung up ages ago in other parts of the world, including Egypt, Arabia, Brazil, Europe, among the Bantu Tribes of Africa, and the Eskimos.
The Chinese system elaborated twelve primary bilateral meridians, each of which pass through a specific organ of the body, including the lungs, heart and stomach; in addition to collector meridians which intersect the front and back of the body and enter the brain. Additionally there are a number of lesser-known collateral's that interconnect with the primary meridians. The entire system is interconnected such that the flow of energy, referred to by the Chinese as Qi or Chi, (pronounced chee) travels from one meridian to the next, circulating throughout the body.
How the meridians were discovered remains a mystery. Besides the likelihood of trial and error, it has been proposed that this system was discovered by observing the effects of injuries to soldiers in battle. The locations of the assaults were recorded and correlated with various effects. If a soldier were injured at a specific location at the shoulder, for instance, the vicinity of a significant point related to the Lung Meridian, possibly a respiratory condition that he had been struggling with for years would miraculously vanish. Many events of this nature could have led to an understanding of an interconnection between the shoulders as well as other bodily locations and the lungs. Similarly other organs were correlated with various locations on the body.
Another perhaps rather comical theory is that the energy system was discovered by tailors who accidentally inflicted injuries upon themselves and their patrons. Possibly in time the precise locations of such injuries were compared among members of the garment industry and this information eventually migrated into the medical establishment.
Still another theory is that the people who discovered the bioenergy system possessed higher sensory abilities such that they could see or palpate the flow within the meridians, and were thus able to precisely delineate the meridian geography. Today while many acupuncturists employ specific recipes for needle placement, other more highly skilled practitioners of the art are reported to detect the stagnant or over active flow of Qi via palpation of twelve specific pulses on the patient's wrists.
Regardless of how the discoveries came about, an extensive compilation eventually appeared in the twenty-four volume Nei Ching, the oldest writing on acupuncture, attributed to Huang Ti, the "Yellow Emperor," who, although it is debated, reportedly ruled China for a hundred years from about 2697 BC to 2597 BC. Modern day acupuncture has deviated little from this text, suggesting that the system was developed and refined over the course of many preceding centuries.
Besides providing information about the pathways themselves, the Nei Ching text details information as to specific acupoints. For example, along each meridian there is a tonification point, which, when stimulated, increase the availability of energy within the meridian. Sedation points, on the other hand, reduce overactive energy. A number of other important points are also discussed in this text.
Acupoint Stimulation and Applied Kinesiology
It is common to think of acupuncture as being performed with needles, since the meridian acupoints can be stimulated with needles. However, the term acu-puncture (which means to puncture with needles) is a misnomer in many respects. It is perhaps better to refer to this treatment as Meridian Therapy, since there are many forms of stimulation that can be applied to effect the Qi within and between meridians. These means include pressure, rubbing, running one's hands in the direction of the meridian flow, suction cups, herbs, vitamins, minerals, glandular extracts, specialized exercises, manipulation of specific muscles, burning moxa (moxibustion), etc.
Chiropractor George Goodheart, founder of Applied Kinesiology, explored the effectiveness of tapping or percussing at specific acupoints to alleviate physical pain. To determine where the tapping has to be applied, Goodheart employs an elaborate muscle testing procedure and what he refers to as Therapy Localization. This method involves having the patient touch specific locations on his or her body while the doctor tests the strength in an indicator muscle, which can be any isolated muscle.
In a related manner, psychologist Roger Callahan and psychiatrist John Diamond have found that tapping on acupoints is beneficial toward eliminating negative emotions such as anxieties, phobias, depression, anger, and so forth. This is similar to the ways in which I successfully treated Barbara and the Fireman. Those of us who conduct psychological therapy via bioenergy systems have found that by having patients tap on specific acupoints, while focusing on the psychological problem, makes it possible for many intractable problems to be easily alleviated.
Needless to say, this approach to therapy does not fit neatly into our ordinary ways of thinking about change. We have come to believe that the only way psychological-emotional change can occur is through adjustments in the environment and the circumstances in which we live, alterations in the ways in which we think, or by the wonders of modern chemistry. There is no obviously convincing basis for believing that tapping at different locations of the body while thinking about a psychological problem can cause a dramatic change to occur. Many people would tend to think that something like that could only work by way of distraction or placebo, even though distraction commonly results in only temporary relief and placebo is effective only about a third of the time.
While it is possible to achieve psychological change by environmental, cognitive, and chemical means, generally such approaches do not produce rapid, profound changes. They work over time and frequently result in noteworthy amelioration but not total elimination of the problem. I believe that this is due to the fact that these approaches do not specifically address the energy system that governs emotional responses. That is, when a negative emotion occurs it is initially triggered by a change in the energy system, the initial domino that sets the whole emotional process in motion. It is not that circumstances, thoughts and chemistry are irrelevant. They are also intricately involved in the production of negative emotions. While producing adjustments at these levels is a useful and often necessary aspect of the overall treatment package, when treating specifically at the energy level we are essentially turning off the switch that turns on the negative emotion.
Proof of Qi and Meridians
If we could prove that the bodily energy system or Qi exists, perhaps this therapy would be more readily accepted to our Western minds. In an effort to investigate Qi, some researchers have reportedly photographed the meridians by using radioactive isotopes, although others have searched similarly in vein. But another line of investigation has proven more fruitful.
Orthopedic surgeon and researcher, Robert O. Becker has conducted extensive research supportive of the existence of a primitive bodily energy system responsible for regeneration and that also accounts for the effects of acupuncture. With regard to regeneration, he provides convincing evidence that the current of injury that is evident at injury sites is not merely a byproduct of injury to cells but is rather consistent with a primitive energy-control system that guides regeneration. In this respect he has found that the direct current at the site of injury on frogs, which are not highly regenerative, is positively charged; whereas, the current of injury on salamanders, for which regenerative capacities are paramount, is negatively charged.
Louis Langeman, in his research of gynecological conditions has also observed variations of electrical charges. To summarize, in a sample of 123 women with cervical malignant conditions, between the ages of 21 and 61 plus, Langeman found that 5 evidenced a positive DC charge in the cervix, whereas 118 were found to have a negative charge. Thus 96 percent of the sample revealed a negative DC electrical charge as compared to 4 percent evidencing a positive charge. A sample of 78 females with no gynecological conditions (ages 10 to 61 plus) evidenced the reverse pattern: 95 percent positive charge versus 5 percent negative.
Becker also conducted research that offers support for the specificity of acupoints and for the existence of meridians. In the early 1970's research into acupuncture was encouraged by the National Institute of Health after Nixon's visit to China serendipitously brought acupuncture into research vogue after Western journalist, James Reston, was effectively treated in China for postoperative pain with acupuncture.
Many of the initial investigators thought that acupuncture worked as a result of a placebo effect and that needle placement would prove irrelevant. In The Body Electric he wrote, "Thus, much of our earliest research merely disproved this fallacy, which the Chinese...had done long ago." Becker approached the problem differently. He figured that the meridians were electrical conductors that carried messages back and forth between the brain and the injury site, promoting healing while producing a pain message at the same time. He suggested that the purpose of the acupoints were to serve as boosters to keep the current up to snuff. If this were in fact the case, then a difference in electrical resistance would be detectable at the points as compared to the surrounding skin. And this proved to be the case. He also found that variations on the surfaces of the skin in the locations of meridians were distinct as compared to non-meridian skin. Thus the meridians are real.
In closing, I'd like to offer the reader an example of an Energy Treatment that may prove beneficial and also promote an experiential understanding of what has been covered in this article. I can't guarantee that this technique will help you, since often the assistance of a trained therapist is needed in order to get the full benefit. However, there is nothing about this technique that is harmful, so it will either help or do nothing at all. You have nothing to lose except the negative feelings, so it's worth a try.
1. Begin by bringing to mind something that causes some emotional discomfort, say a 5 to 7 on a 0-10 scale. This might be a painful memory or the thought of doing something that produces some discomfort (e.g., giving a speech or flying in a plane).
2. Next tap firmly (not hurtfully) with two fingers on your forehead directly between your eyebrows, at what is called the Third Eye Acupoint (a powerful point on the acupuncture meridian system), while continuing to think about the memory or activity. You may find it difficult to keep the thought in mind. But constantly tap until it is impossible to get in touch with the negative feeling.
3. At this point stop tapping and notice how you feel while thinking about the event. If you are able to detect any present discomfort, resume tapping. A few rounds of this simple treatment often eliminate the negative feelings associated with the event. If the discomfort returns at a future time, a few more self-treatments may be needed to permanently eliminate the problem.
4. Sometimes other treatment points are needed, depending on the problem you are treating. Frequently tapping under your nose, under your bottom lip, center of your chest, the top of your head, and the back of your head can help as well.
So there you have it: A simple way to balance your system and ease the sting of unwanted emotions. Emotional CPR, if you will. Use it in good health. Fred P. Gallo, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, maintains a private clinical practice in Hermitage, PA. He offers certification training internationally in his Advanced Energy Psychology approaches, including Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods (EDxTM)™, Energy Consciousness Therapy (ECT)™, and the Identity Method (IM)™. He has published numerous articles on brief therapies and energy psychology, as well as the following books:
Gallo, F. 2005. Energy Psychology [second edition], Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
----------- 2000. Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods, New York: W. W. Norton
----------- 2007. Energy Tapping for Trauma, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger M. E. Furman and F. Gallo. 2000. The Neurophysics of Human Behavior, Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press Gallo, F. and H. Vincenzi. 2008. Energy Tapping [second edition], Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Gallo, F. (Ed.) 2002. Energy Psychology in Psychotherapy: A Comprehensive Sourcebook, New York: W. W. Norton
© 2009 by Fred P. Gallo, Ph.D. Used with permission.