The history of energy medicine dates back thousands of years to indigenous cultures working with unseen energy and forces. All indigenous cultures recognized the influence of unseen energies and forces, often defined as gods and deities, understood and contextualized contact with the natural world. Energy medicine’s vitality continues in modern times, and has concrete application alongside Western medicine offerings. With the understanding of quantum mechanics, a scientific basis for the efficacy of energy healing systems is emerging.
Energy medicine incorporates viewing the physical body as the manifestation of the energy body. In Asian (Chinese and Japanese) energy systems, the energy of the body is experienced and affected through the meridians. Two examples of primary meridians are the Governor and Conception meridians. These energy circuits, when connected form a continuous loop in the body, and feed the internal organs, glands and systems. Multiple other meridians exist in the body and are accessed through acupuncture, acupressure, qigong and other Eastern energy techniques and practices.
In the Hindu and Western systems, emphasis is placed on the chakras and aura (electromagnetic field). The chakras are energy centers in the body, while the aura is the field of energy that surrounds the body. Additionally, nadis are energy pathways in the body that feed the organs, glands and systems. The primary nadis are the Ida and Pingala, winding up the spine from the perineum, terminating at the left and right nostril. Chakras are accessed and evolved through hands-on and hands-off techniques and practices, including meditation and visualization.
Energy therapies are also being embraced in psychological and psychiatric based care. Western energy disciplines such as Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are being used to assist patients to move beyond limiting patterns and behaviors that keep them stuck or unable to progress through cognitive awareness alone.
The Asian (Chinese) and Eastern (Hinduism-based) forms of energy medicine have evolved over the centuries and are the main two systems used today. Some common Asian-based disciplines under energy medicine are Acupuncture and Tai Chi. Ayurveda as well as most newer, Western energy medicine disciplines such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) follow the Eastern system of energy medicine. Today, there are a wide variety of energy medicine disciplines in practice that are used in all kinds of situations, from trauma and cancer therapy to back pain and emotional problems.
While the Asian and Eastern forms of energy medicine differ in their make-up, they are also similar in that both are based on the idea of life force- the energy that flows within one’s body, is accessed and available from the universe. Life force is a vibration, and can be used to amplify and magnify the body’s ability to heal. In Asian energy medicine, life force is called Chi; Eastern systems refer to life force as Prana.
Through energy healing therapies, the body is offered life force through the chakras, aura, nadis and meridians.
Energy medicine operates under the premise that physical, mental and emotional problems arise when the flow of life force in the body becomes blocked or obstructed. Energy medicine is a tool used to clear the pathways and correct the flow of life force, thus bringing the body back into balance and creating a healing environment. Treatment methods range from Acupuncture, which treats patients by correcting the flow of Chi through the placement of thin needles on the body’s meridians, to Ayurveda which is an entire system of medicine focused on the concept of chakras and the balance of one’s prana.
While some of the larger disciplines utilizing energy medicine, such as Acupuncture, have many educational venues for students to gain experience, there are fewer resources available for the broad range of services available in the category. Several well-known institutions exist, such as the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, HOLOS University and Energy Medicine University; however, not all training venues include rigorous practice and/or certification.
Several smaller institutions continue to emerge as the field of energy medicine evolves becomes known as a valid healing form. Many energy healers are highly intuitive and are therefore self-taught. Sometimes this is perfectly legitimate; however, individual discernment and referrals from friends and colleagues are valuable resources for finding and evaluating energy medicine practitioners and therapies.
In general, it’s appropriate to look for a systematic approach to energy medicine. Providers who have grounded their work in a system and form of energy work tend to have a coherent approach and understanding of the service they offer. It is also helpful if the practitioner of energy medicine has an awareness of the science behind the modality that he or she practices.
Licensing and Certification
At this time there is no national certification body for energy medicine due in part to the difficulty inherent in the breadth of the form. Many disciplines fall under the category of energy medicine, and not all operate with the same foundational beliefs. Acupuncture is the only discipline utilizing energy medicine which currently requires licensure in the United States. Aromatherapists must also be licensed by each state in Massage Therapy if they plan to use practice topically on the body. Many associations, such as the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association (ATCQA) provide certification for its members. Other energy healing disciplines such as vibrational medicine and Reiki receive certification from the institution they attended.
While many disciplines under energy medicine such as Acupuncture and Reiki have their own associations, several organizations have also been created for energy healing as a whole. The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM), based in Colorado, as well as the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) are two key national associations centered on the practice of energy medicine.
Energy Healing sessions can vary from $50-$100 for an hour session depending on the type of energy healing and the practitioner's level of expertise.