Who cares about why it’s scientific?!


(By Robert Schwarz, PsyD, DCEP)

The response to our recent program on the Science of Energy Healing was overwhelmingly positive. However there was minority of people who felt differently. In the spirit of making room for multiple voices, below is one email that we suspect speaks for some people, at least in part. After the email I will respond to the underlying issue being raised. But first, a bit of context is needed. During the free mini-series, I spent a considerable time framing the conversation in the following manner: it is very useful to know how to tell the science story or narrative because this is the language many referral sources speak and it is the language that is valued by the healthcare establishment. If we want energy psychology and energy healing to become more mainstream (part of ACEP’s mission) then we need to speak this language.

Who the f*ck cares about why it’s scientific?!

Why is proving the science of energy psychology the main focus? Why do we need to prove the efficacy of our work to MD’s?

For over a hundred years, the field of psychology has been trying to prove its worth and validity to science and medicine. When are we going to be proud of the individual affects of our work, rather than trying to streamline, sanction, justify and verify the healing work we create with our clients?

I am so sick of hearing how we need to prove our worth to a field which is completely different from psychology, different from what truly heals in psychology!

All of these emails stating the contrary are making me rethink being a part of this organization. I thought our purpose was to set a precedent rather than obsequiously try to win the approval of the medical field.

Before I go further, let me stress that it is not my intention to respond to this individual. Rather, my intention is to address the point of view represented in this comment and use it as a jumping off point. Let me also say that this blog represents my thinking at this moment only.

The main problem I have with this point of view is that it is framed in an “either/or” discourse. It is our position that this is a “both/and” issue. In his work on integral psychology, Ken Wilbur describes that reality can be viewed from 4 major quadrants. Each quadrant radically dictates how you view and understand everything. He correctly points out that our current western culture focuses almost exclusively on only one of the 4 quadrants, and the scientific paradigm fits mostly in that quadrant. While I agree that this imbalanced state of affairs is deeply problematic, it does not mean that there is something inherently wrong with the scientific point of view. Scientific inquiry has many useful attributes. It is simply not useful for all things at all times.

What Wilbur suggests is a need for more inclusion of other points of view. I agree. At ACEP, we approach the importance of science from a “both/and” perspective. We seek to set precedent and “boldly go where few have gone before”. At the same time we seek to solidify and expand those trail-blazing paths by understanding the physics, quantum biology and other areas of science that support and explain our personal experiences with clients. We also seek to demonstrate that our approaches can be researched and shown to be clinically effective for large groups of people.

The words and tone of this email suggest that by embracing some of “the standards” of the “dominant” or “mainstream” group (namely the importance of “science”), we are demonstrating a lack of self worth and healthy self pride in our own healing arts. From a historical perspective, this is the exact opposite of “the truth”. Early pioneers in energy psychology actually decried research, stating that it was not necessary because of the obvious and incredible clinical findings. No lack of pride or self worth there. However, there was a rejection of the need to do research (an either/or position that did not help the field).

The fact is that many ACEP members and other healers were drawn into the healing arts fields for more intrinsic and experiential reasons. But they have told us that they want to strengthen their ability to frame their work from a scientific perspective. Our own survey and one-on-one research suggested that people wanted to strengthen their scientific knowledge of what they already know is clinically relevant.

In the mini-series videos and emails, we emphasized that one way to feel more confident, especially when dealing with doctors and other gatekeepers is to be able to speak their language. We received hundreds of positive responses to the program, and many people said they did feel empowered. It was not our intention to say that this is the only way to feel more confident. It is simply one way. Finally, we did tend to focus on physicians in our discourse. This is a fair representation of the current state of affairs in our healthcare system. Physicians are significant gatekeepers as well as policy makers. We want to change the system. It is my position that I meet my clients at their models of the world. We need to do the same thing with the stalwarts of the health care system. We meet them at their models of the world (i.e. science and research) and we show them a better way. After all, if our ways really are better, we should be able to demonstrate that, should we not?

That said, it was not and is not ACEP’s position that practitioners of energy psychology, energy medicine or energy healing should consider themselves stuck in a Dickensian world holding out their “energy bowls” to the medical establishment saying “Please sir, may I have some more?”

Robert Schwarz, PsyD, DCEP

ACEP Executive Director

Author, Tools for Transforming Trauma & We’re No Fun Anymore



  1. Hi Bob,

    Thank you for this! Many psychologists were trained as I was – in the scientist-practitioner model. As such, I am fully in favor of the continued research ACEP is doing to highlight the efficacy and the mechanisms behind energy healing techniques. Kudos to all the researchers for their persistence, sacrifice and creativity!

    Over the past 25 years of my clinical practice, I have seen therapy going more and more towards researched-based standards of care…even to the point of hinting that a practitioner is bordering on malpractice if they use any other that the techniques that have been supported by research.

    The obvious problem with that is the inherent bias in what academia deems worthy of researching, This may tend to limit research to healing methods that are familiar or causal theories that are easier to operationalize. Unfortunately, this narrows the spectrum of possible healing techniques available to the clinician by leaving out the new, innovative and unusual (for lack of a better word) healing modalities.

    Further, The Science of Energy Healing Series, better equips me to explain to my clients why I offer this treatment modality to them. I can speak to my clients with confidence that this “strange tapping technique” is not just some “woo woo” fad and that it is shown by science to be an effective treatment in a variety of areas.

    As far as the physicians, when practitioners are well-versed in the science behind energy healing, I foresee 2 things happening. First, this knowledge allows the referring physician to have confidence in making referrals to energy practitioners. More referrals translates into more income for the practitioner. Second, it also opens physician’s eyes to a modality that they may not know about. The more energy psychology and energy healing techniques become integrated into the mainstream of medicine the sooner they will be reimbursed by insurance companies.

    Far from feeling beholding to the medical establishment for referrals, energy practitioners can truly offer their services as complimentary (not alternative) to medical services. Then, we stand as partners, not competitors, with the medical establishment. To do so, it seems to me best offer a perspective that expands upon Western medicine’s paradigm for healing,

    Humbly submitted,
    Annette Vaillancourt, PhD.

    • How are you going to work with medical doctors when they they refuse to acknowledge that energy medicine is effective. Case in point: Doctors patient has MS it is incurable the symptoms would get to the point where she would lose her drivers license because he must report to the DMV her condition when it reaches the point where she is losing neurological control. She comes to see me. We release all the core issues which caused the MS. She goes back to doctor for her semi annual check up and tells the doctor she does not have MS any longer, He will not accept it. Tells her he making an appointment for a MRI. She said I am not going to pay for it. Doctor is so confident he is right he says I will pay for it if the report comes out negative. The report came out negative. She asked him if he would be interested in discussing it with her. He said no and walked out of the office.
      These are the reports I get back from my patients all the time. Doctors will not accept the diagnosis even when the patient proves to him or her that she/he is healed
      How are you going to get complimentary support when it flies in their face. In my work I get results,
      not temporary relief.

  2. Explaining the science behind energy healing will eventually allow energy healing to reach a wider audience of practitioners and clients alike. More people will heal and more people will open up to experiences they never thought possible. Wow. Energy psychology in particular has a pivotal role to play because you can demonstrate studies showing incredible clinical results, yet the mechanism is/was not well-established. Talk about an opportunity to shift science, and particularly to challenge the shallow thinking of popular science. Amazing opportunity. Amazing responsibility.

  3. I’m happy to see you talking about Ken Wilbur and Integral Theory. Can we get him as a speaker at a conference?

  4. First, crude language is offensive and undermines the point being made. My key point is that denial of the need for research is defeatist or dishonest. If the problem is with the biased methodology or altitude of the medical profession, that is the challenge. If it is the difficulty in gathering valid evidence, that is a different problem but not one that can be used to excuse inaction. Without evidence you and I might say with complete honesty that we believe our work is effective. How does that separate us from snake oil salesmen (or women) in the eyes of clients or other professions that we need to work with? There is so much varied opinion given in this profession that we must have the means to determine what is worthwhile and what is not. Patience and persistence are essential! Interestingly, much research using scanning techniques is beginning to validate the idea that body and mind are one. Truth will out if we persist.

  5. Fernando Gomez, ND says:

    I welcome the scientific evidence as long as this new methodology does not become the prerogative of a specific group of health practitioners (medical doctors or psychiatrists, for example) who could be the only ones allowed to use energy healing with their clients… or only those with a science degree as a requirement.

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