When and why to refer to a psychotherapist…
Ellen Farrell, MA, NCC, LPC
No matter what background you bring to your work as an Eden Energy Medicine practitioner, it’s important to understand that although the work of Energy Medicine can and does deeply affect and influence mood and can have a profound impact on bringing emotional balance and healing, it’s not a replacement for the treatment of your client who has, in clinical terms, an “emotional disorder.” While EEM does impact these issues, it is ethically inappropriate, illegal, and a serious liability for you to treat or claim to treat a disorder diagnosed by a physician or mental health professional.
Your client may have a history of disorder and may not need a therapist now – or may have no diagnosis and be in dire need, and yes, telling the difference can be a complex process! People who are fragile, who may dissociate, become deeply agitated/delusional, depressed, or who have a history of severe trauma and unresolved emotional pain may need to connect with a proficient mental health care provider since EEM does not provide this kind of training. If your client complained of severe stomach pain, you would (in addition to treating with all your EEM tool kit of options) also listen to medical progress, or encourage a medical referral (and document this in your notes); sore muscle aches that don’t resolve could get a referral to a massage therapist, acupuncturist, and/or chiropractor or osteopath, or tooth/gum/jaw pain to a dentist or orthodontist; and nutritional issues to a nutritionist!
On the other hand, while you cannot prescribe a treatment – you can say what has worked for you, personally, and you can say what is considered a norm, or is supported by research (i.e., for your client who only eats hot dogs and soda – fiber, whole foods, good fats, low cholesterol and low fat options – avoid trans fats or saturated fats – and a variety of fruits and veggies is considered a norm for healthy eating; or, meditation and exercise help to increase endorphin production; or, many people are deficient in minerals such as magnesium). You can encourage a client to research something – and you can refer to a specialist whose area of expertise relates to their concerns.
As a psychotherapist, my goal is to identify, acknowledge, heal, and clear out discordance and/or trauma where it exists, help clients to build skills and optimize functioning, creativity, and ultimately, bring balance, allowing the joy and magic of life to flow.
If you don’t have a list of experienced psychotherapists, I encourage you to check out some in your area. Find out who is interested or open to your work in EEM so you have an easier initial understanding – and can develop professional relationships, which may then evolve into a referral network.
I also encourage you to find one who is expert in the use of EFT or other energy psychology trauma-release work, which is effective with trauma issues (where talk therapy alone is not as effective) such as rape, abuse, loss, death, witnessing a crime or being victimized, experiencing fear, betrayal, shock, or some other experience which left them with stuck emotions and pain/disturbance.
Disorders may include:
- unstable self-image/personality issues
- major depression (whether short cycles or longer bouts)
- mania or bipolar/mixed mood disorders
- anxiety disorders
- dissociative disorders
Other issues, often co-occurring, such as immune system disorders, relate to trauma or major stressors which may not be apparent initially, but which may reveal themselves during the work or during your intake session. These deal with issues that interfere with your client’s functioning in life.
- Some signs that may determine your need to refer could be:
- excessive drug/alcohol use (can they imagine not using the substance/s?)
- anxiety/panic attacks
- inability to maintain self care
- sadness for more than 2 weeks
- lack of motivation or focus in work or life
- increase or loss of appetite
- severe relationship conflicts
- weight gain or loss (more than 5%)
- suicidality or homicidality (911 or immediate in-office referral may be needed)
- erratic mood swings &/or behavioral changes
- disruptive or disturbing comments or behavior
- expressions of victimization
- history of trauma which may not be fully resolved
These symptoms give you an idea of how to identify issues that could benefit from working with a licensed mental health provider, and highlight the importance of asking some key questions in your intake so you can know right off the bat if you may need to refer to a professional counselor (LPC), clinical social worker (LCSW), psychologist, etc. Each state has different rules and requirements for licensure, so it is good to know what your state requires and how specialties are defined. Your client needs to be clearly informed about what you do – keeping clear boundaries, knowing when to refer is a key to providing the best options to your clients.
For a long laundry list of signs and symptoms, go to www.ellenfarrell.com, New Client Forms, Intake form, page 3.