Acupuncture - The Energy Psychology for our Times
(This is an article I have written for fellow Acupuncturists so for a layperson there might be areas you may not understand.)
In this article I would like to ask two questions.
- Why don't clients recognise the effect Acupuncture treatments (change of energy) have on their emotions?
- What is the effect that we as practitioners have on a client's emotional states?
I became an Acupuncturist because out of all the therapies I tried, Acupuncture was the only one that I could find that changed my emotions from negative to positive within a treatment. I can still remember how great I felt after my 1st acupuncture treatment. It was as if someone had lifted this huge weight off my shoulders, that someone had added courage, confidence and peace, drop by drop into my heart and mind. I still love how I feel after an Acupuncture treatment. No other modality did that for me, no amount of chiropractic or supplements or massage, ever had that quick and long lasting emotional effect on me.
They say that you get the clients you deserve, that clients will turn up with the lessons that you the practitioner need to learn that day. Because I am fascinated with how our minds' create emotional states and how the body reacts to those states, I seem to draw a large amount of people who have emotional problems. I just read recently that depression is the health problem most looked up on the internet in Australia. Its a world wide fact that depression is on the increase throughout the western world, especially amongst the teenage population. I'm not going to waste time giving you the reasons for this. We are all aware of the negative aspects of the modern world we live in. I also don't need to inform you of the failure of Western Medicine to heal our negative emotional states. Western medications might subdue the problem but are we really getting to the underlying cause by sedating the symptoms?
When I lived in a spiritual community for 5 years I would often treat people for physical complaints and not get the healing results that I would normally expect from acupuncture. It wasn't until I realised that my clients were all suffering from emotional shock that I began to understand people on a spiritual path were in constant conflict within themselves. Their Spirit/Soul wanted to enter fully and their ego or negative self created internal identities that blocked or prevented their true self from full expression. This conflict caused the Soul to be partially driven out of the body. If the Heart (TCM) is the divine Spirit and the Liver is the Soul, then straight away I have Acupuncture points I can use to bring back harmony to the body /mind.
I can guarantee that if you aren't getting the results you desire from your treatments 9 out of 10 times it will be because there is a strong emotional involvement. The Brain/Mind has a direct stimulating effect on the body and this creates what we name as emotions. There can be may reasons for healing being blocked. Maybe the client doesn't want to get well, maybe they are angry at being sick, maybe being well would mean taking more responsibility for their lives, maybe it isn't safe for them to get well, etc. etc.
As we know (as practitioners) shock, physical or emotional, will cause a shock-wave to travel around the meridians creativing an array of symptoms often not relating to each other. The new wave of Psychology therapies such as 'Thought Field Therapy' and 'Emotional Freedom Techniques' have been built on this premise. They have taken a very small part of TCM and are calling it a "psychological breakthrough". On the EFT website I read that Acupuncturists only deal with physical symptoms and EFT will help without the pain of needles. There is still a huge amount of ignorance about what we as Acupuncturists can do.
We Acupuncturists take it for granted that if we change the Qi/energy there will be a change in the emotional state of the client. So we haven't really owned or embraced the full power of TCM to help psychological problems. What I love about Acupuncture is that if I can bring balance to the body's energies, I can bring balance to their emotional states, long enough for my clients to make healthy choices for themselves.
Here are some of my favourite points.
Sp3 for shock, earth/centering energy, quietens the mind.
Ren12, Ren4 or 6, St 25, the cross over the navel center, earth, stabilises nervous system.
Pe6 & Sp6 - oldie and a goldie, will relax, calm and stabilise the mind/spirit Shenmen (ear)
At all times I choose my points depending on the Pulse and Tongue picture.
Often clients are very sensitive to needles when their nervous system is agitated. Everything hurts. Subtle needling is often needed for the first few treatments but deeper needling will have a stronger, longer lasting effect for chronic emotional states like depression. I learnt this by observing a client who was having severe panic attacks. All the medical tests showed nothing physically wrong. This client had a negative childhood, sexual abuse, drug addiction and she had been 'accidentally' knifed through her heart 6 years earlier. She had a chest scar from Ren 22 to Ren 9, they had cut her open through her rib bones to sew up her heart. I'm sure you get the picture. She had been through the mill and at 38 she was a successful business woman who was now being crippled by severe panic attacks that had no 'medical' causes.
She was frightened of the needles so I placed Pe6 in superficially with other needles to remove shock, centre and calm. I left her for 30 minutes but 20 minutes later she called out that the needle in her arm was hurting. I came in to find she had moved and had driven Pe6 all the way in up to its hilt (30mm). Now we know from the text books that there is a strong legitimate treatment for psychotic states, by using a needle all the way through the wrist to join up Pe6 and TH5. From this one treatment the client stopped having panic attacks. Would I have pushed the needle in that far? No, not with a highly stressed, sensitive client - but it taught me that deep penetration is often valid and needed.
I would like to see more promotion of TCM for emotional states. I think we have a big part to play in helping people heal their stress and negative emotional states. As we are all faced with such rapid change, it's a perfect way to help clients adapt energetically to the increasingly busy lives they lead, especially now when depression is becoming one of the most prescribed illnesses. A non-medicated/ pharmacuetical form of natural treatment is badly needed. Anger, fear, worry are all on the increase. Our negative modern society is creating more and more dissatisfaction. Even cancer has a large emotional component. I find that Acupuncture and it's effects on the emotions isn't discussed amongst practitioners and we do little to promote Acupuncture as an alternative to sedating medications. If we aren't careful we will find that the general public will come to believe that all these new therapies (EFT,TFT) really are the only and best when it comes to healing emotional states. We are letting the gems of TCM get stolen from right under our noses.
My belief is that to treat people with emotional problems the practitioner has to be clear of his/her own emotional issues or they will get triggered along with the client. The practitioner must be taking the time to work on their own emotional issues, they have to become conscious. What I love about TCM is that you don't need to be a great verbal counsellor, you just have to be able to explain to the client that if they are willing to keep coming for treatments, they will lift out of the emotional suffering they are now experiencing.
It always impresses me with how at the end of the session there is a different person on the couch. A smile has appeared, the face is more relaxed, the stance more up right, a different energy matrix is now present. The biggest problem with treating emotional states is getting the client to return enough times so we can stabilise their energy long enough for the client's mind to learn a new way of behaving. A client needs to be constantly reassured and they need to be made conscious of the changes they are making. Little steps need to emphasised. Success needs to be high-lighted. When they feel they aren't making any progress, it is often that they are coming up against their core issues. I ask the client to come in whenever they feel trapped or are starting to slip back into negative emotions. I explain that this is the best time to treat the negative energy, the best time to clear the shock wave and the best time to understand the Qi pattern. It is also important to point out that a client needs a support system at home while they are being treated.
I often see clients who are experiencing great fear. TCM tells us they have simply exhausted their adrenal Qi. Moxa and needle BL23, Du4, Ren4 and Kid3. Throw in some ear points and use my favourite shock point Sp3 and watch how quickly they lose the fear and panic feelings. Clients who are anxious and are constantly worrying, have weak Earth Qi(stomach/spleen/pancreas). When you strengthen the Earth, which is also strenghtening the center and digestion, you will see a change in how they think and see the world. They will begin to make healthy choices for themselves, the worry will diminish as they move forward into a happier life.
It sounds strange to talk about a happier life because I can hear people say well their life situations haven't changed but I would argue that yes they have. The client has now completely changed (mentally and emotionally) how they react to the life situations placed before them and that means they are moving in a totally different direction with a new set of options, choices and opportunities. I have see clients make amazing changes. They leave their partner or go back to them, change jobs or take a year off to travel, change every and any aspect of their lives where they were stuck and suffering.
The changes may be fast but the longest lasting changes are often gradual and they can come without even the client noticing. They might just wake up the next day with a clear idea of what they need to do. Or they might just seem to have the courage to change, the strength to follow their plans through. It is often as if a light has been turned on revealing the right path to follow. Where before there was only confusion, fear, anxiety, anger or worry there is now hope, willingness, humour, courage, peace and love.
I am often astounded at how long clients have been under counselling or therapy with little change, some people for years. Then with only 5 or 6 acupuncture treatments their whole persona has changed and they have begun to make real healthy changes in their lives.
A case that stands out in my mind that proves the sheer power of changing someone's energy using a simple Acupuncture technique. A middle aged woman who had an hysterectomy 2 years earlier, had emotionally deteriorated to a point that she was, at the time I first saw her, under psychiatric care. The psychiatrist had tried to convince her that her depression was due to the fact that she had lost her womanhood because of her hysterectomy and of course, his treatments included strong medication.
By the time she had come to me she was at her wit's end. When I examined the client's pulses they where clearly out of balance but what was more interesting was her hysterectomy scar. It went across her lower abdomen and where you would expect the medians to cross the scar, there were 7 little red patches. So the first thing I did was three scar bridging treatments. No big deal in TCM. The change in her was remarkable, her husband couldn't believe it and frankly I was pretty amazed. Within two weeks she was a different woman, the woman that used to exist before the operation. She told me later that she had returned to her psychiatrist and told him that he should go and learn acupuncture- Yes!
This was a great demonstration of the power of acupuncture. A simple technique that changed a persons life in a major way. I bet other practitioners have similar stories to tell. Then why aren't we telling the world. I know we have ethics and advertising standards but are our standards blocking our abilities to treat emotional issues that can take years to unravel through traditional, talk-based psychology?
I would like to finish with a quote from a book called 'Instant Emotional Healing' published in 2000 and written by two Pscyhologists, Peter Lambrou,Ph.D. and George Pratt,Ph.D. Both leading experts in 'Thought Field Therapy'. I would love to spend more time discussing TFT and EFT maybe next month if you are interested. This quote highlights how Acupuncture is losing ground to the new pseudo energy medicines.
"Eventually nearly everyone, in one way or another, will use energy therapy tools for managing emotions, because they are portable, easy to learn and without harmful side effects. Energy Psychotherapies will be part of the treatment for a variety of medical disorders......The reduction of stress alone, with its ability to reduce the incidence and severity of disease processes, is fertile ground for comprehensive energy psychotherapetutics. The day is not so far off when all members of the healing professions will be familiar with these procedures and use them within their own approach to helping people."
When pscyhologists were first taught TFT they had to pay $10,000 each to learn 7 acupuncture points, muscle testing and 28 point tapping protocols. This shows me how desperate psychologists have become. Many have paid that figure to learn what we as acupuncturists take for granted. If TFT and EFT can, with the use of only 7 acupuncture points and no real understanding of the Meridian systems, easily change at least 28 emotional states, then what can we, as TCM practitioners who have a deep understanding of the body's energy flow and the knowledge of hundreds of points, do for our clients emotional wellbeing?
Article by Robert Kendall