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Mental Illness:  An Energetic View

Viewing mental illnesses as energetic damage rather than strictly organic in nature is helpful for several reasons. Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, poses the idea that DNA is controlled by signals from outside our cells, including energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.  It’s easy to see the energy involved in doing yard work as our body responds by sweating.  It’s also easy to see the energy involved in an angry outburst.  What we sense, our entire body including each cell, also experiences.

Mental illness is an injury to the nonphysical, or energetic self. As such, treating it with chemical medicines (psychotropic drugs) alone is similar to treating a broken leg by using every healing tool available--except setting the bone. For example, using nutrition alone, say eating lots of foods containing calcium, wouldn’t align the bone properly for healing. Proper nutrition certainly helps the body to heal, but unless a broken bone is set, the underlying cause isn’t treated.

The same is true for mental illness.  While psychotropic drugs may bring some relief of symptoms, counseling sessions lend a sympathetic ear and build interpersonal skills and proper nutrition helps to keep the physical body on an even keel, emotional and energetic healing is enhanced when the damage to the energetic self—the root cause of mental illness--is addressed.  

What is energetic counseling?

Energetic counseling focuses on balancing and healing the energetic self.

While the idea of energetic counseling is still emerging, the idea of the energetic self is centuries old.  One example is acupuncture.  Acupuncture treatments work by stimulating energetic points along meridians that run through the body to strengthen and balance the body energetically.

Another example is the study of Chakras, a Sanskrit word that means wheel.  Chakras are defined in ancient texts as spinning wheels of light (energy), running up the body from the Root Chakra at the base of the spine to the Crown Chakra at the top of the head.  

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) pioneered by Gary Craig, is a form of energetic healing that anyone can learn and that can be practiced any time it is needed.  EFT stimulates the Chakra points and reframes root beliefs that often underlie emotional issues, allowing blocked energy to be released.  EFT is also an excellent grounding and calming practice that mental health clients can use between sessions.  For more information about EFT, visit

Reiki is an ancient Japanese healing technique that calls on the love and healing powers of the Universe to balance, soothe, harmonize and heal the person in many ways.

The abovementioned techniques can be added to counseling sessions to increase the healing benefits.  A licensed acupuncturist can insert acupuncture needles before the talk session begins.  Crystals can be laid on the Charka points at the beginning of a session as well.  EFT can be easily taught and is a wonderful tool that clients can use between sessions for grounding during panic attacks.  Reiki can be incorporated into counseling sessions as well.  A main concern can be discussed in a counseling section of the session, followed by a Reiki treatment.

As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate energetic techniques into a counseling session.

How does energetic counseling help?

Safe Atmosphere

The first thing a counselor or therapist can do to help an energetically damaged client is to create a calm, safe atmosphere.  Clients who feel safe will have more flexibility to explore deeply buried pockets of emotional energy.  A comfortable chair or couch, soft lighting and calming music help to create a safe atmosphere.

The most important part of creating a safe atmosphere is helping your clients to know that you will be there for them during their scheduled appointments.  Frequent schedule changes may diminish the sense of safety and security and jeopardize the counseling relationship.

Clear Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries means more than enforcing boundaries when clients cross a line.  Remember that many clients are in therapy because their personal boundaries were disregarded as children.  Adult caretakers also may have had capricious boundaries, all contributing to the client’s need for clarity, honesty and stability.  

Offer a brochure or flier outlining what clear boundaries mean to you.  Mean what you say and say what you mean.  Do not change your policies without informing your clients and giving them time to adjust.  

Many clients had caretakers who promised many things and didn’t follow through.  Many are in therapy partly due to the belief that they don’t deserve good treatment.  Clients need to know that if you say you will be there for them, that you will.  They need to know that only emergencies will cause you to change your schedule.  Remember that your clients may have been abused by the people closest to them.  If you allow your schedule to push your clients around, that could be a triggering event for them.  

In setting boundaries, be sure you can give each client the care that she or he needs.  If you promise to be present for the client and/or to see them through the healing process, do all you can to fulfill that promise.  If you cannot, be honest with your client.  Offer references to similar therapists and be clear about why you cannot follow through.  Do not wait until the very last moment to inform the client.  It may be hard for the client to accept that you cannot fulfill your promise, but given a month or so of notice, they will have the opportunity to adjust.

Honesty is a great gift.  Many clients weren’t included in decisions on their behalf in their childhood and sometimes in their adult life.  A clear, simple statement of what isn’t working and why, especially if you as the therapist misjudged a situation, is much more helpful to a client than saying nothing or only bringing up matters where the client is at fault.  To see that everyone makes mistakes help the client develop a realistic, balanced mindset.

Finally, be clear about your expectations regarding your safety, the client’s safety and any potential damage to your office or possessions.  Clear and open communication honors the counseling relationship and helps the client heal by feeling more human and worthy of healing.

Clear, Firm, Gentle Intent for Healing

Before each client arrives, set a firm, gentle, clear intention for healing.  This is more than wishful thinking.  It is a focused, clear sending of energy from the therapist to Universe, on the client’s behalf.  This is the nebulous ‘relational aspect’ of therapy that many sources have discussed but few have clearly identified, which aids in recovery.  You may choose to begin each counseling day with a meditation or spend five or ten minutes between sessions meditating on the healing goals of your client.

Clear, consistent, gentle flow of energetic intention from the therapist that resonates, “I intend for your good.  I intend for your healing,” does volumes more for the client than prescribing a drug or following a specific psychological ideology alone.  

A therapist sending a clear, consistent intent for healing offers her presence and her highest ideals to her client and trusts the Universe to fill in any gaps.  If the client brings up a gap, honestly share what you can about any miscommunication, whether it is in your understanding or the client’s.

Address the Energetic Damage

A therapist can address the energetic root cause of mental illness or energy imbalance issues by addressing the energetic damage.  People often develop self-defeating belief systems based on abuse, traumatic experiences, illnesses, neglect, stereotypes, social stigmas against mental illness or other situations that repeatedly disrupted their energetic systems.  An energetic therapist can help by being sensitive to the energetic disturbances and by focusing on helping the client to develop a healthier belief system.

For example, a client may go into a full-blown panic attack if you tell them an appointment needs to be cancelled or postponed.  This is because energies that were stuck, perhaps since childhood, all rush to the surface when even the hint of abandonment comes up. If the counselor chooses to address the issue of the appointment, she may miss an important opportunity to aid in the healing of the original energetic wound.

To aid in the healing of the original energetic wound, first see the client’s response as objectively as possible.  Send a clear intention and/or say words that show you are supportive of the client, regardless of their emotional state.  Stay with the client as much as possible.  What the client is expressing may be a lot of worry about the counseling schedule but what their energetic signature is saying is that they had people in the past who they trusted promise to be there for them and then change their mind.

If you can get across the idea that you are with them energetically, you stand a good chance of helping the client break the pattern of stuck energy that causes

the panic attacks.  If you focus instead on telling them why you are changing your schedule or ask if they are judging you, you will inadvertently reinforce the abandonment pattern that says others have the right to change anything they want but the client doesn’t.

By staying with the client energetically, you show that the client’s emotions are important and that change doesn’t have to hurt them.  Another helpful tactic is to remind the client of the Universal laws—the overall Process—that works for even them.  The goal is to help them see that they are just as human as you.  Once they can accept their own humanity, they can accept yours more calmly as well, especially if you give at least a few days notice before any changes. This also shows the client that they are worthy of consideration and respect.  Many clients were taught to give respect and even surrender, but that they must never receive the same.

Treat Energetic Disturbances Such as Panic Immediately and Compassionately

One of the main stigmas surrounding mental illness is the idea that a person who is panicking or unable to handle daily stresses is “weak,” “immature,” or otherwise deficient.  This creates denial in the client and ignores the damage that the panic is doing to the nervous system, as well as allowing societal ‘permission’ to belittle the mentally ill.  Even well meaning therapists can fall into the habit of treating panicky clients in a childlike way.

I believe that to treat panic by making decisions for clients is to overlook a main energetic component of the panic itself.  This main component is also a reason for the ‘immature’ stereotype.  Seeing the main components of panic and other symptoms is not only clarifying for the therapist but is empowering for the client.

For example, a main component of panic is strength.  Panic is strong emotion that creates space between the panicking person and the rest of the world.  Seeing panic as a strength empowers your clients and provides the perspective that even when they feel most out of control, they are really using a defense mechanism, which indicates that they actually are making choices in the moment.  The very act of choice shows that while they may not feel as if they can handle the situations that bring a panic response, they are handling the situations by panicking.  This can help them gain insight into their reasons for choosing panic and help them choose a different energetic path that serve them better.  

One reason some clients panic is that panic was one of the few effective defense mechanisms available to them as children.  Abuse survivors, for example, may learn that panic or even hysterical panic lessens the abuse or frightens the abusers enough to keep them at bay.

Blaming or shaming a panicking client for acting ‘childish’ or ‘out of control’ shows a lack of understanding which may reinforce the need for panic by creating an atmosphere where the client feels backed into a corner.  A more helpful tactic is to create a dialogue to put words to the panic, remaining calm and nonjudgmental no matter what the client shares.

Outer attacks affect the energetic self first.  They affect the person’s aura, then the emotional field and then the body, creating many kinds of illnesses. For a more thorough explanation of how illnesses affect the body, see The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D.

For many clients, the feeling of being on the verge of panic or upset is only inches below the surface at all times.  The core component of this is feeling misunderstood.  Many abuse survivors struggle with the idea that they don’t deserve to exist.  Any threat or outer pressure can challenge their fragile inner core.  

This can be a source of shame for some, especially if panic is triggered by social interactions, bringing ridicule from peers or family members.  Show the client that their feelings are important by addressing panic calmly when it arises.  For some, your calm presence in the face of their panic and your gentle attention may be the first time they have honored those feelings or considered the health of their nervous system.

Grounding and Centering

Energetic counseling also helps by giving clients tools to ground and center their energy.  Some intuitive counselors who are licensed acupuncturists use acupuncture to ground the client.  The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is also an effective grounding technique that anyone can learn.  EFT can be used in sessions to work through energetic disturbances and is simple enough for a client to do between sessions.  Reiki can be combined with counseling sessions to center and ground the client and provide gentle healing energy.

For more information about EFT, see

Remember:  Above all else—give clients honor, respect, honesty, dignity, compassion and love.  These nourish the soul.