Energy Psychology (EP) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
According to the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), Energy psychology (EP) is a collective of mind-body approaches used to understand and improve human functioning.
EP focuses on the relationship between bioenergy systems, neuro and electro physiological processes, and mental functions involving thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behavior.
Licensed mental health professionals who begin to use these techniques can become very hopeful very quickly, because the research has been showing more and more success at treating clinical disorders such as: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addictions.
Since I have much experience with working with those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) across the lifespan, and I have been practicing both EP and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for many years, I often am approached by clinicians and parents who ask me “Why not use EP with ASD?” And, the answer is complicated.
When I was doing my talk show, I began using a term called “Non-spectrum Spectrummers” to apply to all of us who are not diagnosed with an ASD. The point being, all of us are very different in so many ways, that it is difficult to lump all people diagnosed with an ASD into a category for the purpose of treatment. There is no specific research to date to show outcomes of use of EP for those diagnosed with ASD’s.
As technology advances, we are becoming aware of structural differences in the brain and genetic differences in those diagnosed with ASD’s. If you are following genetics research, you will see that there is not just one gene responsible for ASD’s. Structural differences in the brain can potentially influence executive functioning processes amongst other things, and genetic differences can potentially influence other things such as biochemical processes in the body.
Because we don’t know enough about ASD’s and some of the exact mechanisms of EP, paired with the lack of research to date, in my opinion when asked, “Why not use EP with ASD?” then becomes, “It depends.”
Technically, I have found some crossover in that some techniques considered to be included under the umbrella of EP and are well researched exercises in very reputable ABA programs to teach certain skill acquisition in those diagnosed with ASD. Neither technique, ABA or EP, is the enemy with respect to treating ASD – there is an art to using any technique.
The same can apply to clinicians – “If you know one behavior specialist, you know one behavior specialist”, and “If you know one therapist who practices EP techniques, you know one therapist who practices EP techniques.” Thus, reinforcing my concept of non-spectrum spectrummers.
I can’t emphasize enough that individual consideration and a very thorough assessment should be completed by those licensed professionals who have experience in treating ASD’s to determine whether or not EP is right for your child.
If you are a licensed professional treating ASD’s and have questions about the use of EP for this population, send me a private message for professional consultation and assistance in navigating this world!