Depression engenders negative thoughts, especially the negative thoughts about yourself, others and your future that Aaron Beck called the "negative cognitive triad." Depression also makes it hard to get up in the morning and subtracts the joy out of life. While depression may not be a cause for divorce, it can put major strains on relationships, and definitely can be contagious. Medications can help; talk therapy helps; couples therapy helps. At the same time, my colleague Dale Petterson and I have been exploring what energy therapy techniques might add to our repertoir of depression treatments.
In an earlier PT post I described a new strategy for treatment of depression that Dale and I have been experimenting with. The treatment involves shifting energy from the right to the left prefrontal lobes. The video below illustrates these brief and seemingly quite effective new technique.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more. The video below hopefully will make the explanations in my earlier post about these depression-alleviation techniques more comprehensible.
Actually, this prefrontal lobe energy-shifting depression treatment is surprisingly simple.
To do the treatment, however, a therapist needs to know how to use muscle kinesiology, also known as muscle testing, to get yes and no answers from the subconscious. Muscle kinesiology is explained in the video. At the same time, if you should want to learn to do it yourself, YouTube has multiple videos teaching various ways to do the testing with a large arm muscle like you will see in the video, or using smaller muscles in fingers or the wrist.
Here's the video.
Outcomes with this depression treatment method.
Our data on outcomes with the dozen or so depressed folks with whom we have begun to explore the potential of this technique so far is observational and informal. The news so far however is good. After we have done the procedure, most folks feel significantly better, at least temporarily.
Most people report that they feel lighter, more positive, relaxed or upbeat, within a few minutes to hours, and occasionally taking a day or two. A few folks seem to feel no difference, but these have been a small minority of cases. One person reported feeling worse for the next day, and then fully relieved of depressed feelings and thoughts by the following day or so. No one has reported any other negative side effects, nor have we observed more thus far.
We generally find that it helps to repeat the procedure weekly for a few weeks, then occasionally as needed after that, to consolidate the improvement. The brain seems gradually to learn to keep the energy higher on the left than the right, or maybe feeling better breeds acting more positively which brings on more good feelings and becomes self-reinforcing,
A word of warning:
Some people who experience the muscle testing insist that the therapist, Dale, is pushing harder when he wants a certain answer. That is a mistaken conclusion. The goal of using kinesiology is for the therapist to obtain data from the client's subconscious. Making the arm move any particular way would be the opposite of letting the subconscious speak.
My goal in writing here and showing this video is to interest researchers in running scientific studies that might establish the merits and/or limitations of this potential treatment technique. My dream, in addition to effectiveness research, would be to find a physician or neuropsychologist who has access to brain imaging to determine if and to what extent the brain is actually making changes with these interventions. Any researcher volunteers?
Could this depression treatment method replace prior treatment options?
If this new depression treatment really is getting the results we think we are seeing, an energy therapy intervention like this could replace drug treatments.
At the same time, like medication, this treatment would probably work best in conjuction with talk therapy, that is in combination with individual and/or couples psychotherapy.
Folks who are depression-prone definitely benefit from working with a therapist to learn what will enable them to stay depression-free. For instance, folks whose depression stems from dominant-submissive interactions in their marriage or other couple relationship need to learn to interact without put-downs and instead with only collaborative patterns of talking together.
While prefrontal lobe energy shifting is not meant to replace conventional talk therapy treatment, the technique hopefully may someday augment and accelerate the effectiveness of conventional depression therapy treatments. That someday would be a very good day indeed.
Denver clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D, a graduate of Harvard and NYU, is author of Power of Two, a book,workbook, and website that teach the communication skills that save and sustain positive relationships. Click here for a free Power of Two relationship test. Click the Power of Two logo to reduce anger and depression in your marriage.
Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.