Preliminary Report of the First Large-Scale Study of Energy Psychology

SUMMARY

In preliminary clinical trials involving some 31,400 patients from 11 allied treatment centers in South America during a 14-year period, a variety of randomized, double-blind pilot studies were conducted. In one of these, approximately 5,000 patients diagnosed at intake with an anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to an experimental group (imagery and self-statements paired with the manual stimulation of selected acupuncture points) or a control group (Cognitive Behavior Therapy/medication) using standard randomization tables and, later, computerized software. Ratings were given by independent clinicians who interviewed each patient at the close of therapy, at 1 month, at 3 months, at 6 months, and at 12 months. The raters made a determination of complete remission of symptoms, partial remission of symptoms, or no clinical response. The raters did not know if the patient received CBT/medication or tapping. They knew only the initial diagnosis, the symptoms, and the severity, as judged by the intake staff. At the close of therapy:

63% of the control group were judged as having improved.

90% of the experimental group were judged as having improved.

51% of the control group were judged as being symptom free.

76% of the experimental group were judged as symptom free.

At one-year follow-up, the patients receiving tapping treatments were less prone to relapse or partial relapse than those receiving CBT/medication, as indicated by the independent raters’ assessments and corroborated by brain imaging and neurotransmitter profiles. In a related pilot study by the same team, the length of treatment was substantially shorter with energy therapy and related methods than with CBT/medication (mean = 3 sessions vs. mean = 15 sessions).

If subsequent research corroborates these early findings, it will be a notable development since CBT/medication is currently the established standard of care for anxiety disorders and the greater effectiveness of the energy approach suggested by this study would be highly significant. The preliminary nature of these findings must, however, be emphasized. The study was initially envisioned as an in-house assessment of a new method and was not designed with publication in mind. Not all the variables that need to be controlled in robust research were tracked, not all criteria were defined with rigorous precision, the record-keeping was relatively informal, and source data were not always maintained. Nonetheless, the studies all used randomized samples, control groups, and double blind assessment. The findings were so striking that the team decided to report them.

One other intriguing observation was that, in a sample of patients, the research team found that the superior responses attained with the energy treatments compared with the CBT/medication treatments were corroborated by electrical and biochemical measures. Brain Mapping revealed that subjects whose acupuncture points were stimulated tended to be distinguished by a general pattern of wave normalization throughout the brain which, interestingly, not only persisted at 12-month follow-up, but became more pronounced. An associated pattern was found in neurotransmitter profiles. With generalized anxiety disorder, for example, acupuncture point stimulation was followed by norepinephrine levels going down to normal reference values and low serotonin going up. Parallel electrical and biochemical patterns were less pronounced in the CBT/medication group. While these reports are as preliminary as they are provocative, if subsequent research supports them, key mechanisms explaining the surprising effectiveness of acupuncture-based treatment approaches will have been identified.

The principal investigator was Joaquín Andrade, M.D. The report was written by Dr. Andrade and David Feinstein, Ph.D.

Preliminary Report of the First Large-ScaleStudy of Energy Psychology

SUMMARY
In preliminary clinical trials involving some 31,400 patients from 11 allied treatment centers in South America during a 14-year period, a variety of randomized, double-blind pilot studies were conducted. In one of these, approximately 5,000 patients diagnosed at intake with an anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to an experimental group (imagery and self-statements paired with the manual stimulation of selected acupuncture points) or a control group (Cognitive Behavior Therapy/medication) using standard randomization tables and, later, computerized software. Ratings were given by independent clinicians who interviewed each patient at the close of therapy, at 1 month, at 3 months, at 6 months, and at 12 months. The raters made a determination of complete remission of symptoms, partial remission of symptoms, or no clinical response. The raters did not know if the patient received CBT/medication or tapping. They knew only the initial diagnosis, the symptoms, and the severity, as judged by the intake staff. At the close of therapy:
63% of the control group were judged as having improved. 90% of the experimental group were judged as having improved.
51% of the control group were judged as being symptom free. 76% of the experimental group were judged as symptom free.
At one-year follow-up, the patients receiving tapping treatments were less prone to relapse or partial relapse than those receiving CBT/medication, as indicated by the independent raters’ assessments and corroborated by brain imaging and neurotransmitter profiles. In a related pilot study by the same team, the length of treatment was substantially shorter with energy therapy and related methods than with CBT/medication (mean = 3 sessions vs. mean = 15 sessions).
If subsequent research corroborates these early findings, it will be a notable development since CBT/medication is currently the established standard of care for anxiety disorders and the greater effectiveness of the energy approach suggested by this study would be highly significant. The preliminary nature of these findings must, however, be emphasized. The study was initially envisioned as an in-house assessment of a new method and was not designed with publication in mind. Not all the variables that need to be controlled in robust research were tracked, not all criteria were defined with rigorous precision, the record-keeping was relatively informal, and source data were not always maintained. Nonetheless, the studies all used randomized samples, control groups, and double blind assessment. The findings were so striking that the team decided to report them.
One other intriguing observation was that, in a sample of patients, the research team found that the superior responses attained with the energy treatments compared with the CBT/medication treatments were corroborated by electrical and biochemical measures. Brain Mapping revealed that subjects whose acupuncture points were stimulated tended to be distinguished by a general pattern of wave normalization throughout the brain which, interestingly, not only persisted at 12-month follow-up, but became more pronounced. An associated pattern was found in neurotransmitter profiles. With generalized anxiety disorder, for example, acupuncture point stimulation was followed by norepinephrine levels going down to normal reference values and low serotonin going up. Parallel electrical and biochemical patterns were less pronounced in the CBT/medication group. While these reports are as preliminary as they are provocative, if subsequent research supports them, key mechanisms explaining the surprising effectiveness of acupuncture-based treatment approaches will have been identified.
The principal investigator was Joaquín Andrade, M.D. The report was written by Dr. Andrade and David Feinstein, Ph.D.

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