Fortunately, the world of therapy may be at the cusp of an exciting new frontier with regard to helping both children and adults who have developed negative emotional reactions. Much as acupuncture has clarified that alternative medicine can offer new avenues for treatment of medical problems, new techniques that fit under the broad umbrella term of energy therapy may offer potent new options for treatment of mental health difficulties such as those that highly sensitive children develop.
This article describes the series of interventions that energy therapist Dale Petterson utilized over the course of one session with one highly sensitive 10-year-old boy.
Note that energy techniques seem to yield especially rapid changes with children. Adults have accumulated more layers of negative life experiences and bad habits. Their treatment therefore, while it uses the same techniques, sometimes takes somewhat longer.
One more caveat. I use energy therapy interventions to augment traditional therapy. I myself usually bring in Dale to work with me in order to add his energy therapy methods to a broader treatment strategy.
With couples, for instance, I focus primarily on resolving current issues between them, upgrading their communication and conflict resolution skills and exploring famiy of origin sources of current difficulties At the same time, I invite Dale to bring his energy techniques to one or several sessions in order to check for and remove psychological reversal and to reduce the impacts of emotionally painful past events in their lives.
A Single Session Example
The client was a somewhat shy, clearly very bright, and immediately likable ten year old boy whom I will refer to as Aaron.
Aaron’s Dad brought him to session, which had been scheduled for 90 minutes. His dad stayed in the session with him, contributing good-humored comments from time to time, and utilizing the final minutes of the session to address an issue of his own.
The dad was a scientist. I was particularly impressed that, as befits his profession, he sustained a consistent willingness to watch the proceedings with an open mind. Good scientists observe phenomena without preconcieved judgments and treat unexpected phenomena as especially worthy of attention.
Dale Petterson was the primary therapist. While I participated by taking notes for Dale so that he could proceed without having to keep pausing to write down what he had done, I was mainly an on-looker.
Aaron and both of his parents have given approval for me to write about the session, and to include information from the detailed notes which Aaron’s dad wrote up after the session to explain it to his wife, Aaron’s mom.
Aaron’s parents had scheduled the session to help Aaron with the first target issue. Aaron had requested that the session also focus on the second and third.
1. Reluctance to read.
Aaron tested several years above grade level in reading skills, but his parents were concerned because he never read for pleasure. A strong student who loved discussing both sports and current events, Aaron would head straight for the morning newspaper to read titles of articles and captions under photos, but then would ask his parents to tell him what was in the articles rather than read them himself.
While reluctance to read might have been considered normal for a boy his age, in this family of avid readers Aaron’s avoidance of reading looked to his parents like a sign of something wrong.
2. A feeling of social vulnerability.
Aaron requested help with this issue as a follow-up to his work with Dale several months prior, also a single-session intervention. That session had enabled Aaron, a highly sensitive boy, to overcome hyper-reactivity to his peers whom he had perceived as often hurting his feelings. The result of that session had been that he went from a boy who generally felt disliked at school, often cried and fought with other kids on the playground to a highly self-confident and popular boy.
Now Aaron was requesting that Dale reinforce what he (Aaron) referred to as his "force field” as he could feel his hyper-sensitivity beginning to return.
3. A too-quiet voice.
Friends, teachers, relatives all continuously said to Aaron, "What?", "What?" While Aaron wanted to be heard the first time he said things, his voice seemed stuck in a muted, barely audible, volume.
The Energy Therapy Treatment Process
To better visualize the energy therapy techniques described below you might want to watch at least some of this video demonstrating several of our procedures, especially muscle testing.
Outcome from the energy therapy session
In the course of one session Dale addressed and successfully rectified all three target symptoms.
In addition, time remained after these successes for Dale also to address a bonus concern of Aaron’s plus a personal concern of Aaron’s dad.
Target Symptom #1: Avoidance of reading.
Dale, who had worked for twenty years as a school psychologist diagnosing children’s learning problems prior to semi-retirement to energy therapy work, began his assessment by ascertaining if Aaron's eyes may have had a functional problem.
Asking Aaron to watch his finger as he moved it slowly back and forth in front of him, Dale saw that the movement of Aaron's eyes from left to right and back flowed smoothly. Tracking did not seem to be the problem.
Dale next performed a similarly simple test for corpus collosum functioning. These findings indicated that the left and right sides of his brain were synchronizing well. No difficulties so far.
Dale then tested Aaron’s eyes for vision in various directions, using muscle kinesiology to test for stress (emotional or physical) in each eye position.
Muscle kinesiology (also called muscle testing) is a diagnostic technique broadly used by chiropractors, kinesiologists, and many different kinds of energy therapists. While almost any muscle can be used for the procedure, Dale uses arm muscles. He has a client hold his arm out, extending it parallel to the floor. By pushing lightly on the wrist of the extended arm, Dale then tests if the arm stays extended or flops down. A sudden drop in arm strength indicates a momentary gap in the body’s electrical flow. The arm dropping therefore signals a stress response.
As Dale pressed with slight pressure on the wrist of Aaron’s extended arm, he asked Aaron to look up, holding his head still and moving just his eyes. He then had Aaron look to the left, to the right and down. Aaron’s arm stayed strong as he looked up, left and right. It flopped down to his side, powerless, when Aaron focused his eyes downward. The flopped arm indicated stress, that is, "Yes, there is stress when my eyes focus downward."
Aaron piped up, "Maybe that's why when I read I like to hold the book up in the air," demonstrating how he typically held books straight ahead in front of his eyes, “even though my arms get tired.”
Having found that looking downward did produce discomfort for Aaron, Dale then tested to find the likely cause of this stress. By touching specific spots on Aaron’s face and simultaneously muscle testing with application of slight pressure on Aaron's outstretched arm, Dale tested to determine if the cause of the eye weakness was from allergies, from a physical problem, or emotional (trapped negative energy from a prior unprocessed negative experience). The results indicated that the stress when Aaron’s eyes pointed downward was from an emotional source.
Dale used then muscle kinesiology to verify which technique he should utilize to remedy the emotional source of the eye weakness. "Shall we use the Emotion Code?" The arm’s response was affirmative.
The Emotion Code, a psychologically astute innovation of chiropractor Bradley Nelson that I have written about in prior blogs (see below), tracked the issue to a negative emotion of peeved that had been stored in Aaron's eyelids.
The word peeved struck Aaron as funny as he had no idea what the word meant.
Continuing to use muscle kinesiology coupled with the Emotion Code, Dale then identified the age when the emotion of peeved had become trapped, and the triggering situation. Aaron chuckled again after we explained the word peeved to him, agreeing that it exactly described the emotion he had felt at that time.
Emotion Code techniques clarified that at age 7 Aaron had felt peeved when his younger brother Billy was getting what Aaron felt was undue attention from his (Aaron's) peers.
Having pinpointed the source of the trapped emotion of peeved, Dale used muscle kinesiology to find out if this negative energy had been stored in Aaron’s eyelids. The answer was yes.
Diagnosis completed, the next step was treatment with the goal of releasing the trapped emotion of peeved from Aaron’s eyelids. As per Emotion Code protocol, Dale ran a Magboy magnet several times down Aaron's spine (the governing meridian) while focusing on the intention of eliminating the stored negative emotion.
Dale then re-tested Aaron’s outstretched arm with the term "peeved" at age 7, and then again at Aaron's current age of 10. At both ages, Aaron's arm now held strong, indicating that the negative emotion of peeved had been removed.
Dale then repeated the arm test for Aaron's ability to look down without losing strength. Unlike in the initial testing, this time Aaron’s arm held strong, indicating that the Emotion Code intervention to remove the negative energy had been successful.
Would looking downward to read still be stressful for Aaron?
Dale put a book on a table and asked Aaron to read from it. Aaron felt the difference immediately. To his delight, his eyes felt surprisingly comfortable. Instead of stopping after a few sentences, Aaron just kept reading on until we interrupted him in order to continue the therapy.
Muscle kinesiology enables a therapist to check and double check if symptom removal has been completed. "Is there anything else we should do at this time for the reading reluctance?" Dale asked Aaron's subconscious via the muscle testing. The answer, expressed again through the arm, was a clear "No," so we moved on to the next target symptom.
Target Symptom #2: Social hypersensitivity.
To address what Aaron had referred to as wanting his "force field" strengthened, Dale used three techniques all of which decrease emotional hypersensitivity.
Shielding. Dale ran the magnet down Aaron’s spine three times while reading a request for “shielding” to establish a protective energy field around him. "Shielding" protects a person emotionally from others’ negative comments while allowing positive feedback to pass through. While this sounds pretty hocus-pocus to a traditional therapist like myself, it had worked for Aaron last time so he was very happy to have his “shielding” reinforced.
Zip-it-up. Dale then showed Aaron how to "zip up," so his positive energies would remain strongly within him, by drawing his hand upward along his central meridian. The central meridian is the energy meridian that stretches from the public bone to the chin in front of the body. As his hand reaches toward the top, near his mouth, Aaron was to twist it as if he were locking a key in a door, and say “lock it in” (or “zip it up”).
Reduction of amygdala hyper-reactivity. The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls emotional reactivity. If amygdala reactivity is too high, that is, small life perturbations produce overly intense emotional responses. As my mother used to say, emotional over-reactions “make a mountain out of a molehill.”
Dale tests the amygdala by asking, again using muscle testing (kinesiology), "At what number on a scale from 1 to 10 is your amygdala currently set? Zero to five? Five to ten?" Since muscle testing gives just yes-no answers, a process of elimination is necessary. If the arm indicates 5 to 10, Dale then asks “1? 2?, 3?” etc until the arm indicates yes on a specific number.
Dale’s hunch that Aaron’s amygdala was too highly reactive was confirmed when the arm testing indicated that his amygdala was set at a 10.
To correct the overactive amygdala, Dale again used the power of intention plus running the magnet three times down Aaron's spine (governing meridian) while asking Aaron's subconscious to reset his amygdala at a more optimal level.
Testing the arm again, Aaron's amygdala reading was now a 6.
This more moderate level of emotional reactivity looked like an improvement. At the same time, Dale and I have found that most people respond to an amygdala reset by leveling out at 2 to 3, so Dale asked Aaron's subconscious if it would be preferable to lower the amygdala further. The answer was negative. Level 6 felt optimal to Aaron.
Perhaps this relatively high reactivity level accounts for how a highly sensitive child like Aaron picks up on and understands so much detail about the world around him.
Target symptom #3: Insufficient voice volume.
Dale began by using muscle testing plus touching the facial points that indicate emotional, allergic or physical causation of a problem. Like his eye problem, Aaron’s muted voice volume tested as stemming from an emotional source.
Using the Emotion Code, again, Dale identified the specific trapped negative emotion, which in this case was taken-for-granted. This emotion was stored in Aaron’s throat.
When Dale then asked at what age was this emotion had been stored, taken-for-granted turned out to have been inherited from 12 generations back in Aaron’ paternal great-great-grandfather’s family. Aaron's Dad also speaks relatively quietly, so this paternal line made sense.
To removed negative emotions that have been inherited, Emotion Code procedures utilize ten instead of the usual three runs of the magnet down the client’s back (governing meridian).
We asked if there was a further trapped emotion related to the muted voice? The arm testing said yes. One of the beauties of these methods, as a said earlier, is that a therapist can check when and to what extent a treatment has been completed.
This time the emotion was frustration at age 3, stored in Aaron’s right lung. Frustration at age 3 made sense right away to Aaron. In his preschool years he had had very limited hearing; he remembered feeling frustrated. While surgery eventually corrected the hearing problem, the negative emotion of frustration apparently had remained trapped in body memory.
Dale removed this trapped emotion by running the magnet along Aaron’s governing meridian.
At this point the arm testing indicated that we had removed all the relevant trapped emotions that the Emotion Code could identify.
To double-check if Aaron’s voice still might have further emotional components, Dale asked Aaron’s subconscious, via muscle testing, if there were any further trapped emotions. The answer came up yes. The earlier testing had indicated that the Emotion Code was not going to be helpful in identifying further trapped emotions, so Dale asked if another list of emotions called the Behavioral Barometer would be appropriate to use. The answer was yes.
Unimportant was the trapped emotion identified from the Behavioral Barometer list. This emotion was trapped in Aaron’s jaw, which made sense to Aaron and his Dad because they both had noticed that when Aaron spoke with his little voice he barely opened his jaw.
Pin-pointing the age, the people involved and the specific incident when this emotion of unimportant had been trapped, muscle testing found that Aaron at age 7 had felt unimportant to his father.
Aaron’s father groaned good-humoredly at the idea that something he had done, or not done, had influenced his son’s low voice volume. Dale and I joined him in bemoaning the reality that all parents, including us, inevitably do make mistakes.
Dale successfully cleared Aaron’s negative emotion of unimportant, again by running the magnet down Aaron's spine coupled with the power of intention, that is, with thinking about the change we were intending the magnet to accomplish.
Another round of arm-testing then indicated that we had completed all that needed to be done on the voice issue.
Now came the test. Aaron tried speaking in a full voice. Making a larger sound felt awkward to him. At the same time, he expressed delight and confidence that eventually he would get more comfortable in using his new “big voice.”
Once the causes have been removed of a problematic habit like low voice volume, there is still a habit component that needs to be addressed. We asked Aaron how he would feel about his parents helping him out with practicing his new bigger voice. Was he ok with asking them to let him know when he was using his tiny muted voice? And doing game-like exercises to practice speaking loudly?
Aaron said “Sure.”
At the same time, Dale wanted to be certain that subconsciously Aaron would be OK with parental help. Aaron’s arm confirmed that indeed he would be fine with this plan. He was okay also with asking his grandmother, whose hearing was compromised, to let him know when she’d like him to turn up his voice volume.
To further the habit-change aspects of speaking more loudly, Dale taught Aaron how to use self-hypnotic suggestion. He showed Aaron how to tap in a circle around his right ear while affirming aloud “I speak up loudly enough that people can easily hear me.” Using this technique multiple times a day for several days could help to consolidate the new big-voice habit. See here for a PT post and video example of this technique. It is called temporal tapping.
Symptom #4: Basketball shooting in games. A bonus target symptom for Aaron
Aaron volunteered that he had one more issue that he really wanted to work on. While he acknowledged that he was one of the best shooters on his basketball team, he found himself reluctant to shoot for baskets during games, a pattern that frustrated his coach and teammates. "Shoot! Shoot!"
Dale suggested that Aaron use his self-hypnotic technique of temporal tapping in a circle around his right ear. (For a PT post with instructions on temporal tapping click here) Aaron tried it saying “I like shooting in games. I make lots of shots so some of them can score.” He seemed positive about augmenting his confidence about shooting in this way.
Symptom #5: A bonus for Dad
With ten minutes still remaining in the hour and a half session, Dad was interested to find out if he himself was psychologically reversed (see article listed below on this phenomenon).
Dad later wrote about this intervention, “Apparently I was psychologically reversed, stemming from not feeling supported by my dad in some way when I was 12. Not sure where it was stored. Apparently I was able to clear it out though. Very interesting. I think it could definitely be connected to not feeling supported by basically all the bosses I've had since college.”
Dale succeeded in hitting the bulls-eye on all five target symptoms.
Reading. Immediately after his session Aaron had gone home and opened a 200 page book. Within days he had completed it and was on to the next.
Aaron’s older brother noticed the change, commenting to their parents that Aaron was no longer asking him to to tell him what the newspaper’s sports pages said. At the breakfast table Aaron was reading the articles himself.
Emotional hyper-sensitivity. Aaron said that if kids said teasing things on the playground he felt comfortable either ignoring them or teasing them back. He again felt like a kid with lots of friends.
Voice volume. While Aaron’s voice remained on the quiet side, it was now within a normal range. His parents reported that it was significantly more audible to them. Aaron said that his friends, teachers and grandmother no longer seemed to ask him “What? What did you say?”
Basketball. In his basketball team’s final all-city playoff game, Aaron took enough shots at the basket to emerge as one of the team’s two highest scorers. To a 10-year-old boy, this change especially mattered.
Dad’s conclusion: “It was a FULL hour and a half and I found it really fascinating. I think Dale is pretty amazing and feel lucky that we have the opportunity to work with him!!!”
For more blog-posts on Dale Petterson's uses of energy therapy techniques, please click here.
Also, do be sure to check out the Comments to this article, especially about research....
Denver psychologist Susan Heitler, PhD is author of the book for therapists, From Conflict to Resolution, and the book, workbook and the interactive online PowerOfTwoMarriage program for couples who want to build a stronger and more loving marriage.