Laser treatment of acupuncture points as an alternative for tactile stimulation in energy psychotherapy
The word „laser“ is an acronym standing for „Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation“. This special type of light was discovered in 1960, when Theodore H. Maiman of Hughes Aircraft mounted a synthetic ruby rod inside a powerful flash lamp (Maiman, 1960). When he activated the flash lamp, an intense pulse of red light burst forth from the end of the rod. This light was both monochromatic (a single color) and coherent (all of the waves were precisely in step). The difference between the output of a laser and that of an incandescent light bulb is like the difference between white noise and a single tone. The laser age was born. Within a very short time, laser action was demonstrated in gasses, liquids, and semiconductor crystals. The output of a laser can be pulsed or a continuous beam; visible, infrared, or ultraviolet; less than a milliwatt – or millions of watts of power.
lasers nowadays are diode lasers, light emitting semiconductor chips, driven by
low voltage power supply. Wavelengths vary between red (635 nm, actually may
appear slightly orange-red) through deep red (670 nm) and beyond in the
infrared realm (780 nm and up). Green and blue laser diodes have been produced
in various research labs but until recently, only operated at liquid nitrogen temperatures,
with a very limited lifespan. Long lived room temperature blue and green diode
lasers will soon be commercially available. Violet (around 400 nm) laser diodes
are just going into production.
The beam quality depends on design. The raw beam is elliptical or wedge shaped and astigmatic. Correction requires additional optics (internal or external). The power varies from 1 mW to 5 mW (most common), up to 100 W or more. Lasers are applied in CD players and CD-ROM drives, LaserDisc, MiniDisc, and other optical devices. Costs vary from $15 to $10,000+.
In acupuncture, laser instruments have been used since many years. Usually, 635 nanometer diode lasers are used for this purpose. The wavelength corresponds with the monochromatic, coherent light emitted by human cells. With the laser light, the ear acupuncture points are treated, although also other points can be also be accessed. The ear points are closer to the surface than the body points and the laser light can penetrate the skin more easily. Because of the fiber-optic nature of the acupuncture meridian system, the laser light easily spreads along its channels. The diagram shows the location of the connections to the organs on the outer ear.
Laser treatment was introduced to meridian-based therapy by Bob Radomski. In Laser Ear Spray, or LES, the laser is used to stimulate the reflex points in the ear that relate to all of the other acupuncture points on the body. As in other energy psychology techniques, we are stimulating acupuncture points to balance the body’s energy system in relation to the negative or upsetting thoughts or scenes. The concept of the laser ear spray is a little different from the straight use of ear acupuncture as stated in the preceding paragraph. In her handbook, Sandi Radomski describes Laser Ear Spray as a way to treat allergies.
In my own practice, I've been using lasers since 1999, with excellent results. Initially I used a laser pointer, as designed for presentation purposes, and then started to use the AdiMa Beauty Laser, a Swiss diode laser especially designed to treat acupuncture points. It has exactly the frequency of 635 Nm and the beam is not focused on a single point like in lasers developed for presentation purposes. The Beauty laser has an output power of 5 mW, the maximum power level allowed to be sold to non-medically trained persons.
Laser Ear Spray is an excellent addition to energy psychology methods. If the client is accessible to it and accepts the treatment, it’s my method of choice for the treatment of phobias and for the psychological sequelae of traumatic events. First a few words of caution:
· Not all clients can profit from the laser. Some don't react at all; others experience the beam on the outer ear as irritating or even painful. One time a client reacted with a headache, although this could also be caused by the release of emotional material. Some people express resistance against the use of modern technology. Any resistance must be handled carefully, whereby the quality of the working relationship has priority over the use of the laser. In every energy psychology treatment of a client, it makes sense to be able to practice a number of different techniques, as client’s reactions are idiosyncratic.
In the treatment of trauma, the client is introduced to the laser first, and questions are answered in the same way, as any other method would be explained. After the usual introductory contact and contract work, the client focuses on the traumatic event to be neutralized. This can be done with the help of Psychological Debriefing techniques. Sometimes, debriefing can be considerably shortened with the help of the laser. The client is invited to tell the story, as if it happens now, and as soon as the narrative is interrupted or becomes emotional, the client is asked to stay with that moment, to focus on the images and the experiences. Then the laser treatment is applied on one of the ears. The whole of the outer ear is „sprayed“ with a frequency of 2–4 movements per second, from a distance of about one centimeter. Spraying the right ear seems to make it easier to access the experience, while spraying the left ear removes the tension. During the process the client is asked what comes up, and the therapist encourages him/her to tell emotions, thoughts and details of the situation remembered, just as in Psychological Debriefing. Within a short time, it becomes clear if laser ear spray is the right treatment: It simply works or it doesn’t. It works if the client, after accessing the situation, within minutes starts to breathe deeply, and experiences significant changes in the assessment of the traumatizing event. I tend to start on the right ear of the client, and after a few minutes changes to the left. This change of target points is more or less intuitive, guided by the process. When nothing happens on the right side any more, the treatment is continued on the left outer ear. Switching from left to right and back a few times may be necessary to get the process going. The client is encouraged to talk during the laser treatment, with questions like:
It’s important to work in the present tense and to keep the client in contact with the situation worked on. The therapist moves carefully move from frame to frame in the inner movie. Usually, the inner picture of the traumatic event changes from an experience to a memory within minutes under the influence of the laser. Of course, the dosage of the intensity of the experience lies in the hands of the experienced therapist, and no measure or caution is different from conventional, professional treatment.
It's important to work with one only one critical incident at a time, and even with separate frames of the inner movie. Once a frame has been worked through and has lost its original emotional charge, there is a phase of cognitive integration before the client starts with the treatment of the next frame or event. The treatment is finished when the client can tell the story of the event without intensive emotions or without significant blanks or interruptions. The way clients process the events depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of traumatic events in the person's life. With type I PTSD, resulting from a single traumatic events, the effects of this treatment are often amazing.
The greatest advantage of the use of the laser is that it maintains the flow of the therapeutic process. There is no interruption for muscle testing, tapping sequences or eye movements. This is especially important in the work with the sequelae of traumatic events. The laser can be used in combination with many different techniques. Clients can tell their personal experience as narratives, reporting traumatic events, as well as in the form of metaphors. Recently, a client described her own life situation as hanging at the edge of a cliff, almost falling into an abyss. After a few rounds of LES, departing from this metaphor, she felt able to fly like an eagle.
Case # 1:
The client was a woman from a Near East country. She suffered from severe nightmares and other PTSD symptoms due to imprisonment and torture 20 years ago. In the 1980’s, she had been jailed for three years, and for more than 100 days, she was systematically tortured by the military that took over the country. She was a teacher and working in a union, which criticized the school system. At the time, the torturers had said that they wouldn't kill her but that she would wish they'd killed her every day for the rest of her life. This nasty prophecy had become true, and she suffered seriously from intrusive images. She came to see me for treatment of the PTSD symptoms. It was very encouraging to learn that she was able to react immediately and very positively to laser ear spray treatment. As soon as she got into intensive emotions in telling her story, I treated her with the laser and after a minute she breathed deeply and let go of the images. She had never had this experience before in telling the story, usually the symptoms got worse when she talked about what had happened to her. For me as the psychotherapist, the results looked similar to working with EMDR and EFT/TFT tapping. The main difference was that she didn't have to do anything herself. This was very supporting and made it easier for her to stay with the memories to be processed.
In the following session, there had been no intrusive images anymore, from the torture scenes we treated in the first session. She felt much more quiet and had slept well for the first time in many years. This time, she reported one more torture scene and two incidents from her childhood in which she was molested. As a child, she had never spoken about this. In her culture, it would have meant that her father would have had to kill the men and therefore go into prison.
According to the client, these incidents had created 70% of her emotional problems. It was the first time she talked about these incidents, and again she went through in only a few minutes with the laser treatment. At the end of the session she broadly smiled, something she told me she hadn't done for 20 years.
In the third session she showed some symptoms again, but with less intensity. Laser treatment again took off the sharp edge of the experience. In the following sessions, there were no signs of PTSD; she continued treatment on relational and child-raising issues.
Maiman, T.H. (1960). Stimulated Optical Radiation in Ruby. Nature, 6 Aug. 1960, 187 (4736), 493-4.
 Willem Lammers, TSTA, CTS is a social and clinical psychologist, a licensed psychotherapist and a consultant to organizations with over 20 years of experience in the field. He is a Certified Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst and a ATSS Certified Trauma Specialist. He is currently the director of IAS, the Institute for the Application of the Social Science in Maienfeld, Switzerland. After training in the USA he has been working with meridian-based psychotherapies since 1996 and developed several new techniques and applications. He was one of the first professionals to teach meridian-based psychotherapy and counselling in Europe and organized the first European Conference on Energy Psychology 2001. He teaches in many different countries.