(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