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What is Energy Work?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Energy work is a form of alternative medicine that relies on the idea that the body is filled with and surrounded by energy fields that can be manipulated. By working with these energy fields, practitioners believe that they can promote harmony and balance for their clients, addressing specific medical conditions in addition to easing emotional distress. Energy work takes a wide variety of forms, and it is on offer from practitioners in many areas of the world.

According to energy workers, the health of the human body and mind rely on stability in the energy fields around the body. If the energy is blocked or disturbed, someone may feel a corresponding illness or emotional unease. Practitioners attempt to feel the energy in their clients and to manipulate it, eliminating blockages, undoing knots, and addressing areas where the energy appears to be flowing counterintuitively.

Skeptics argue that energy work is questionable, at best. Supporters argue that they feel very real results after sessions, and that the open-minded really can sense the energy around the human body. Of course, one could argue that results are the experience of expectation, a common problem in scientific research, and few truly empirical studies have been performed to address this form of medicine and the claims which accompany it. Given this, it is important to consider placebo effect phenomenon in correlation to all forms of energy work.

Some forms of energy work are quite ancient. Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, is based on the concept of qi, or lifeforce, with practitioners working to balance qi in the body with techniques like acupuncture and Chinese herbs. More modern forms involve visualizing the energy field around the body and working with this field without actually touching the client, with some practitioners claiming that they can see a colored aura around their patients. Reiki is an example of this type.

This practice can also be combined with bodywork, hands-on techniques that are designed to address specific physical problems. For example, acupressure involves the manipulation of specific pressure points on the body to free the flow of energy, and cranio-sacral therapy involves manipulation of the skull and spine to address energetic imbalances.

Practitioners offering energy work come in a range of philosophies and styles. Some people have a more empirical approach to their work, attempting to use scientific methods to explore the flow of energy in their clients, while others prefer a more holistic approach. People who want to explore this form of alternative medicine may want to meet with several practitioners to talk about their styles before making an appointment for a session.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By healthnwell — On Mar 04, 2011

@abundancer--My friend is an energy work healer and is certified. According to her, this means she has completed an extensive training and education program and has shown she is competent to practice.

There are some schools that have accredited programs for various forms of energy work. The best thing to do is find out where your healer went to school and how many hours the program was. Search the school to make sure it is not a diploma mill and one of the accredited programs, this should put your mind at ease.

Of course, this is a new profession as far as licensing goes, so I always go with referrals from people I trust.

By abundancer — On Mar 01, 2011

Great explanation about energy work! I have gone to a few energy healers of late and though skeptical, I have felt a difference. One interesting energy worker does something called Qi-chong. When done properly you actually feel your own energy!

I would like to check the certification and schooling of the healer before continuing my sessions. Does anyone know where I might check this out? Do they have to register somewhere?

By Comparables — On Oct 26, 2010

What a pleasant surprise when I clicked on this article. I thought I was clicking on an article that had to do with the energy, work and heat relationship of a chemical reaction, or something along those lines. Instead, I learned about a new type of alternative medicine that I had never heard of. Thanks wisegeek!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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