10 Gifts: Wisdom From an Extraordinary Therapist and Healer
Dale Petterson died today. It's a major loss for the field of psychotherapy.
Posted Jul 16, 2019
One day some eight years ago a man named Dale phoned my office. I didn't quite understand why he wanted to talk to me. Dale did say he'd been feeling a bit down but did not seem to be asking for a therapy appointment. He did say he had retired several years prior and then moved here, to Denver, and felt down because he still wanted to be helping people. He said he liked to talk with book authors and that he had liked my book on therapy, From Conflict to Resolution. He did say he was a licensed counselor, and also an energy therapist.
"Energy therapy," I thought. My ears perked up. I had once attended a local psychologist's workshop on that topic some several decades prior. The presentation had intrigued me.
"How about you come to my office tomorrow at 2:00 so we can talk?" I suggested. Dale agreed.
At my office, instead of talking about energy therapy, Dale demonstrated a sample technique with me as a client. He asked what I was allergic to. I said nothing, although I did tell him half-jokingly that I seemed to get a stomach ache whenever I drank soda pop. Using muscle testing, Dale found that yes, something in soda pop did provoke an allergic reaction. He identified the specific ingredient and neutralized my response to it. Wow. I was hooked.
Impressed by the potential potency of energy therapy interventions, and especially impressed with their potential for relieving the anxiety, depression and anger which I specialize in treating, I offered immediately, "How about if you set up shop here, working with my colleagues and I in our TherapyHelp office suite?"
Dale, aged about 70 at the time, did join us. While he saw many of his own clients, as word spread quickly about his cures, he and I also worked together on many, many cases, integrating my talk therapy techniques and his energy therapy skills. Seeing Dale's effectiveness, I also brought to Dale several close friends, several of my grandchildren, plus my office staff and their families. My family used to refer to Dale as Miracle Man.
Dale continued to work in our offices for over six years, staying until Parkinson's left him unable to talk well enough to continue to conduct treatment.
Today, several years later, Dale's wife phoned me to tell me the final news. This morning, surrounded by his loving family, Dale died.
Dale and his energy therapy treatment methods taught me much.
I am writing today about Dale's work in order to share with the larger mental health world at least some of the key ideas and interventions that Dale taught me. Some are generally known in the world of energy therapy. Others were Dale's original innovations.
1. Emotion Code.
The video below offers an example Dale utilizing Emotion Code techniques on me to help me to get over a sore throat that just wouldn't seem to heal.
The Emotion Code is a brilliant system of energy therapy techniques for treating both psychological symptoms and physical symptoms with psychogenic components. Pioneered by Dr. Bradley Nelson, these techniques hopefully will one day have become core basic therapy skills taught in the training of all psychotherapists.
I will add that Dale used Emotion Code techniques to save the life of a treasured friend who was dying from pancreatitis. In just one session, Dale turned my friend's death trajectory to an upward healing curve. That was multiple years ago. My friend continues even now to live a full and healthy life.
2. Psychological reversal
As I explained in an earlier post on this blog, psychological reversal is a phenomenon that causes self-sabotage. When people who have psychologically reversed approach happiness, they become at risk for subconsciously undermining their positive situation.
While other energy therapists earlier identified and described psychological reversal, and some have suggested ways to bypass it briefly to enable a specific treatment to be effective, as far as I know, Dale is the only one who has found a lasting reversal cure. Virtually all of the clients whose reversal Dale ended never again tested as reversed. The article link to above explains his method.
3. Treatment for PTSD via acupoint tapping.
A one-session treatment of a Vietnam vet who had suffered for decades from severe PTSD convinced me that the energy therapy technique called Emotional Freedom Technique, also called acupoint tapping, could produce astounding results. Many Youtube videos demonstrate this intervention. Psychologist David Feinstein has published an excellent journal article reviewing research on the technique. Here's a link to one of the sites that teach it.
4. Children's learning disorders.
Dale had worked for over twenty years in a school setting before moving to Denver. He developed methods for applying innovative energy therapy treatments to children's learning disorders. He treated concentration difficulties, for instance, as allergies to fluorescent lights. He used Emotion Code to ease children's anger and anxiety disorders. He could test for underlying causes of reading disabilities by using muscle testing and applied kinesiology.
I personally had a young relative who by age 8 still could not read, struggled with a phobia about robbers entering the house, and initiated daily fights on the playground. In a single session Dale pinpointed the traumatic emotional event which had occurred in preschool when the boy was aged 3, and then released the subsequent chronic feelings of vulnerability. Within the next three months, the boy was reading two years above grade level, ceased worrying about robbers, and had become one of the happiest and most socially successful boys in his class. (This post describes a subsequent brief intervention with the same boy on other issues.)
5. Energy therapy interventions to accelerate couples therapy.
Dale taught me rapid techniques for addressing emotions that would arise in a therapy session, and particularly in couples therapy. As most therapists know, emotions in a therapy session offer a point of entry to the past sources of current dysfunctional patterns. With this identification, clients then can create more benign responses that will better serve them in future situations. Energy therapy for use within marital treatment is a wide-open and still mostly untapped frontier.
6. An amygdala reset technique for alleviating emotional hyper-reactivity.
A hyper-reactive amygdala can produce excessive anger such as is characteristic of borderline personality disorder. The video below demonstrates Dale's innovation for reducing hyper-reactive fight or flight anger and anxiety responses. If more therapists could do this intervention, many individuals who too frequently erupt with explosive anger or devastating anxiety could be helped.
7. Treatment of allergies, including allergies to people.
Yes, people sometimes develop allergies to specific people in their lives. Believe it or not, the techniques, mainly utilizing Emotion Code, that Dale used to treat allergies of all types (and also many emotional distress states) work amazingly to end strong negative emotional reactions to specific individuals. You still won't like the person you were allergic to, but emotional over-reactions will no longer overwhelm your ability to handle the individual in a civil, constructive, and even pleasant manner.
8. Pre-verbal memories
Sometimes events that occurred prior to the age of individuals' memories need attention. One in utero event that I especially loved seeing Dale treat was vanishing twin syndrome, that is, the death of a twin who died before being born. Inherited emotions and troubled emotional reactions from past lives as well as in utero and young childhood events can be remarkably quickly identified and eased via Emotion Code.
9. Temporal tapping for quick relief of a transient negative emotion.
Dale taught me how to do temporal tapping. I once found myself about to give a live national video webinar when I discovered that the slides I thought I was about to show were not the ones that the producer of the webinar had. Panic! I tapped. Within the few seconds before I was on the air, I had regained a state of calm.
While temporal tapping was not Dale's invention, it was one of many energy therapy interventions that he had gathered over the years to offer to his clients as quick and easy self-help options.
10. Prefrontal-lobe energy shifting: A remarkably brief yet powerful treatment for persistent depression.
In general, I treat depression with the 3-step visualization I demonstrate in my TEDx talk, a technique I explain more fully in the depression section of this website. Dale, however, created a brilliant method that, within minutes, generally ended even quite severe depressive phenomena. We called it right/left prefrontal lobe energy shifting.
Working with Dale, I was repeatedly in awe of his broad basket of energy therapy wisdom and techniques. I have tried to share in this post at least some of these. The bottom line is that Dale's intuitions and healing capabilities were something I had never seen before, have not seen since, and am unlikely to witness again in my lifetime. I feel blessed to have had the good fortune that Dale and I somehow stumbled onto each other's life paths.
Thank you profoundly, Dale Petterson, for all you taught me, and for the healing you brought into so many people's lives. May your wisdom get passed on and on, widely and broadly. Again, thank you, and goodbye.