Executive Director of ACEP defends EP in The National Psychologist

The longer falsities linger in people’s consciousness, the more likely they are to become accepted as fact. That is why it was important for ACEP’s Executive Director, Dr. Robert Schwarz, to write a letter to the National Psychologist countering Dr. Mark Chambers’ slandering remarks about EP in an earlier issue. In January, Dr. Schwarz had written an article for the publication about EP practices. This bothered Dr. Chambers, and in his letter, among other things, he asserted that:

 “The fundamental concept of this modality, that manipulations such as tapping or eye movements can alter dysfunctional cognitions or emotional responses, has been repeatedly discredited in controlled peer-reviewed studies”

“Its [EP’s] current use in clinical practice may strain ethical boundaries.”

Chambers, M. (2012). Evidence lacking for Energy Psychology [Letter to the editor]. National Psychologist, 21(3),

Here is Dr. Schwarz’s response:

Dr. Chambers’ letter, in the last issue, opens by saying he is “dismayed and concerned” that The National Psychologist would decide to publish a piece that advocates an energy psychology approach. He justifies this swipe at the editors by making a claim that is patently false, stating that Energy Psychology (and EMDR) have been repeatedly discredited in controlled peer reviewed studies.

A literature search conducted this year (in press at the APA journal Review of General Psychology) identified 50 peer-reviewed papers following the use of energy psychology protocols.  All 50 described positive clinical effects. The 17 RCTs in the sample were critically evaluated for design quality. All of them showed highly significant statistical outcomes (ten of the studies had p levels <.001). In the 11 studies that reported effect sizes,10 of them were large. Nine of the17 studies used objective measures. Nine of them used placebo or active ingredient controls. Eight of these studies reported long term follow-up. Therapeutic gains were maintained in all of them.  So Dr. Chambers is dead wrong on the facts. 

Resistance to an unfamiliar model imported from the healing traditions of other cultures (e.g., acupressure), along with citing biased organizations such as Quackwatch (as seen in the response to my article), rather than even-handed reviews of the current evidence, are preventing those in need from receiving the best help available. To use Dr. Chambers’ closing phrase, psychologists who keep themselves ignorant about easily-accessible clinical innovations that are more effective than standard practices in addressing serious societal issues such as PTSD “may strain ethical boundaries.”

Schwarz, R. (2012). Response to Chambers [Letter to the editor]. National Psychologist, 21(4), 21

We urge that if you hear misinformation about EP, you politely, yet firmly, try and correct it as best you can.  It really helps when you have objective facts on your side compared to bombast and misinformation.  Feel free to use the succinct summary described here.   We also recommend that you read and really learn the scholarly article by Feinstein cited by Dr. Schwarz.

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