Addiction results from using a substance repeatedly to cope with emotional and/or physical pain. Family history of addiction is a factor in the severity of the problem and one’s ability and willingness to stop, but using substances to deal with emotional pain prevents us from learning effective behavioral coping mechanisms. And the more we use the more stunted our abilities to cope become.

Addiction can be to alcohol, drugs, eating, gambling, sex, and even to one’s negative coping behaviors such as fighting, withdrawing, or being a drama queen. Remember the saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?” Well addiction to behavior is just that. We do the same thing we always do, hoping that the result will give us what we want, but it usually makes the situation worse. For example, every time someone gets mad at me I respond with anger, hoping to stop the unwanted attack, but my behavior actually makes the conflict worse. It is an automatic response—if you attack me, I respond this way without even thinking. It has become hard-wired.

Energy psychology (EP) heals the traumas that activate these repetitive responses, thus removing triggers and the resulting need to use substances and repetitive negative behavior to cope. EP can also encourage being present with one’s feelings and sensations using “somatic experiencing” (explained below), thus teaching a healthy, alternative coping mechanism.

So what is EP and how does it work?
Energy psychology (EP) is a relatively new method for creating change in your life. If you want to improve motivation, relieve depression, alleviate anxiety, ease traumas impacting addiction, or remove blocks to your potential, EP can help. EP is typically faster and more effective in creating change than traditional methods such as cognitive, behavioral or talk therapies. The theory behind EP is that negative life events cause blocks in the body’s energy, which in turn cause automatic survival responses when memory of the event is activated. The response is activated when any aspect of the current situation resonates with the past situation stored in the body. EP’s remove these energy blocks.

There are a number of different energy psychology methods, which use one or more of the following: pressure or tapping on acupressure points; tapping on alternative sides of the body (bilateral stimulation and EMDR); charkas; hands on healing; visualization; and muscle testing (or kinesiology).

How we develop blocks
These unique techniques eliminate blocks that negatively influence behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Blocks are formed from one or more events that have occurred in the past. When we experience negative events (such as watching our parents fight or being told that we are no good), we don’t like what we feel or think, and we tense up to block out or avoid our painful emotions. Avoidance of feelings actually insures that the event will get stuck in the body because the incident is never fully processed. What we resist persists. Energy psychology changes the chemistry of the brain to inhibit the alarm response and release the stuck issue. EP helps relieve depression, anxiety and phobias, and it frees individuals from blocks that impact their substance abuse and their ability to move forward in life.

What energy psychology is and how it works
The particular method that I use is called CLEAR®, which integrates a number of energy psychology methods. It uses acupressure point therapy, bilateral stimulation, somatic experiencing, clearing of blocking beliefs and muscle testing. I will explain each of these below.

There are fourteen acupressure points on the body that correspond to various emotions (see the table below). With CLEAR, light pressure is applied to each point successively while putting one’s attention on the topic that is being addressed (some energy psychology methods such as EFT and TFT tap on the acupressure point—I find light pressure is sufficient).

Bilateral stimulation originated in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and was systematically developed by Francine Shapiro and called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). It involves tapping alternately on right and left sides of the body while thinking of the issue being worked on. The theory here is that the trauma is “frozen in time” and is energetically stuck on one side of the body or the other and alternatively tapping on the body while thinking of the issue frees it up.

Somatic Experiencing, developed by Peter Levine, is a practice I use with both the acupressure point technique and bilateral stimulation. Levine developed Somatic Experiencing after watching animals in the wild experience trauma. He noticed that animals, when they can’t fight or flee, go into immobility (which dulls the senses so they don’t feel the pain if they are eaten). And if something scares away the animal that put them into this state, and they are not badly injured, they will lie there, presumably processing the trauma as the body twitches and eyes roll. They then get up and walk away.

Levine surmised that because humans think, we avoid this processing. We don’t want to experience the feelings and sensations that usually accompany a trauma because they are unpleasant and they don’t feel good. We think, “I don’t want to feel that; I don’t like that feeling. It is unpleasant and I won’t be happy if I feel that. I want to get away from that feeling.” Our resistance to feeling is what gets trauma stuck because what we resist feeling cannot be fully processed by the body. Using somatic experiencing, we are present in the body and allow feelings and sensations to surface to our awareness so that the trauma can be reprocessed and thus be freed. This is a wonderful practice for those attempting to learn new coping mechanisms—allow yourself to feel your emotions without resistance. This does not mean acting out on them, for example, it does not mean yelling at someone if you are angry. It means you sit with the anger and experience how it feels in the body. What sensations are you experiencing while you feel the anger? What are you thinking? What do you think are the origins of these feelings?

Beliefs define who we are—what we think, how we behave and the actions we take. Blocking Beliefs are thoughts that prevent us from being who we want to be. We make decisions about our selves and life when bad things happen to us as children. For example, if I experienced parents who were not present much in my life, I might decide that, “I don’t deserve attention, I am not good enough to get attention,” and “they don’t love me or they would pay more attention to me.” And perhaps I believe that “something is wrong with me” to explain why they didn’t spend time with me. If I was hurt emotionally or physically, I may decide, “I am not safe,” or “I can’t trust people.” And I may decide that alcohol or drugs will help me cope with these feelings. These beliefs, like the traumas, also get stuck in the system. Untreated, they will impact much of what occurs in life. For how can I have a healthy relationship if I feel unworthy or unsafe around people? But CLEAR frees these beliefs so we can actualize our dreams.

Muscle testing (also referred to as Applied Kinesiology) is a way to get feedback from the conscious and unconscious mind about what is going on in the body on physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual levels. When the body is in the presence of something negative to that body, muscles are weaker than when it is in the presence of something positive. There are many ways to test muscles, but the most common is to press down on an arm, which is held out parallel to the ground. The logical brain is by-passed to get a true reading of what is occurring in the body/mind – a response of muscle strength is a “yes” or positive, and muscle weakness is a “no” or a negative. In CLEAR, muscle testing is used to determine issues to clear, blocking beliefs, methods needed to clear, which acupressure points or bilateral stimulation are needed to clear the issue, and finally to see if the issue is indeed cleared. Muscle testing allows one to streamline the clearing process and only work on what the person’s muscle testing indicates is necessary to heal at that point in time.

If you want to try clearing some of your own limiting beliefs and traumas that may impact your addictions, you can follow the simplified process at In this version of CLEAR, muscle testing is not used. Because muscle testing isolates the particular points necessary to clear a particular issue, the simplified process will clear beliefs, use bilateral stimulation and all of the acupressure points. Yes, the process might look a bit strange, but try it, it really works! If you are dedicated to stopping your addictive behaviour, energy psychology can help you achieve your goal.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Roberts, PhD, developed CLEAR. She teaches CLEAR and leadership courses. She sees private clients, and has written a book describing CLEAR (Change Works with CLEAR, Clearing Limits Energetically with Acupressure Release). Julie is certified by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology. Women for Women International uses CLEAR® with its participants to help them deal with trauma resulting from conflict and abuse. To contact Dr. Roberts or purchase her book: