Atypical Energy Psychology in Denver
The therapist sits across from her patient. The patient sits with one arm lifted straight out while the therapist applies pressure downward on the arm. The therapist whispers questions from a chart in front of her, then jots notes on a piece of paper. The patient is communicating to the therapist via his arm. The therapist is searching the subconscious for emotional blocks. There’s no crystal ball involved, nor mind-reading. In fact the procedure is a very exact science. It is a Christian counseling session called Splankna.
Splankna is an energy-based, Christian psychological therapy. Founder Sarah J Thiessen explains it as, “an Energy Psychology protocol based on a biblical foundation.” Thiessen wrote the book Splankna, which was published in September 2011 by CrossHouse publishing, to share the technique that she’s discovered. The book’s purpose is to explain Energy Psychology for Christians; how it applies in a Biblical perspective and what separates Splankna from New Age or witchcraft.
The therapist (both the therapist and patient have chosen to remain anonymous) receives answers based on the patient’s energy system. If the answer to the question is false there is no response from the patient’s system. However, when the answer is true there is a minor reaction and the arm gives slightly. “Was that a yes?” the therapist asks when a movement is unclear. She repeats the question.
The questions are based on Splankna’s Emotion Chart, which is a variation of Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.). “The idea here…is that the body seems to store emotions and memory on a physiological/energetic level,” said Thiessen. The chart has colored columns and the first task is to find one color. Each column has a list of emotions, the next step is identifying which emotion the patient is dealing with. Once the emotion is located it must be “cleared.” This process leads to a “central emotion” with an age and where the emotion is stored in the body.
The patient’s central emotion is fear at age four and the body has stored the trauma in his bladder. The patient is free to say what he thinks the trauma was if he can remember, but it is not required for the therapy to continue. In this case the patient cannot identify the traumatic memory. The therapist says, “I’ve had people that are completely in the dark during the session and then a few days later they notice a huge change in their life. Other patients won’t remember the trauma until after the session.”
Splankna applies different techniques to create one cohesive therapy. Splankna uses (N.E.T.), Thought Field Therapy, and E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Thiessen says, “E.M.D.R. is definitely the best-known and most-respected mind-body protocol.” E.M.D.R. is a therapy utilizing “rapid horizontal eye movement seem to assist the brain in resolving ‘stuck’ trauma processes,” according to Splankna.com. The therapy was founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1990.
Two of the techniques, N.E.T. and Thought Field Therapy, work with the bodies meridians. Body energy “seems to move through the body along micro-thin pathways called ‘meridians,’” Thiessen said. “The body’s 14 Energy Meridians each store particular flavors of emotion.”
Thiessen encountered N.E.T. after a friend recommended she see a chiropractor for a cough. There she met Dr. Brian Martin who opened her eyes to N.E.T. and Thought Field Therapy. N.E.T. was founded by chiropractor Dr. Scott Walker after he observed a mind-body connection in his practice. Patients often had chronic back problems linked directly to stress. For example, a patient would remember a car accident then their back would go out. Walker used “specific reflex points and correlations of emotions from ancient acupuncture meridians to help the patient focus on a particular feeling” (http://www.netmindbody.com/about-us/the-amazing-story-of-net). In 1988 Walker began to teach the therapy.
The patient presses his bladder while thinking of when he was four and possible traumas that could have occurred. The arm test then confirms whether or not the fear is “cleared.” Once the trauma is identified it must be cleared. Thiessen writes, “Energy Psychology’s change agent: circuitry + intention.” The emotion persists so the therapist moves on to “forgiveness work.” Further muscle testing reveals a need for the patient to forgive his mother. The therapist instructs him to tap his right index finger while saying a forgiveness statement three times. The finger tip is associated with forgiveness in Thought Field Therapy.
Thought Field Therapy, discovered by chiropractor-psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan, taps meridian points on the body that are believed to have emotional correlations. Callahan “designed a system of algorithms, or orders in which to tap, on Meridian points” (Splankna.com). According to a 2008 story on NPR (Unorthodox Therapy in New Orleans Raises Concern) the American Psychological Association stated that Thought Field Therapy “lacks a scientific basis.”
Thiessens said, “Energy Psychology protocols tend to have much more sparing and anecdotal research behind them.” That’s one reason for the APA conclusion.
“The important thing is forgiveness in the subconscious,” says the therapist administering the treatment. “The tapping can only help.” She continues communicating with the emotions to clear all trauma areas in the particular set before moving into the spiritual aspects of the therapy.
Thiessen’s credentials show that she is the right person for finding such a revolutionary practice. Her back cover of her back reads: “Sarah Thiessen is a private practitioner and the founder of the Splankna Therapy Institute in Denver, Colorado. She is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor. She holds a Bible degree in Youth and Family Ministry and a Masters degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from Abilene Christian University.”
Splankna Therapy “recognizes that the physical body overlaps with the emotional dimension which overlaps with the spiritual dimension of a person”(splankna.com). Each Splankna session begins with prayer between patient and therapist. Thiessen said before a session, “they ask that God would supply to them the necessary faith, strength, courage and wisdom to follow where He leads.” Forgiveness is used to clear emotions during the therapy if simple touch and thought are not sufficient. “Forgiveness is essential for healing,” said Thiessen.
The name Splankna, Thiessen admits, “It’s the worst possible name from a promotional standpoint. It’s so clumsy and odd.” Inspiration for the name came while Thiessen was in seminary. “For some reason, one of the only Greek words that stuck with me was splankna,” Thiessen recalls. The term is “literally translated guts or bowels, it was used socio-culturally at the time the way we use the word subconscious- as if to say ‘I know it in my gut.’” When Jesus used the word in the Christian scriptures it has been translated to compassion.
The initial forgiveness does not work so the therapist leads the patient to say a different statement of forgiveness. He repeats and taps. Another emotional block during age four is found. There is a feeling of abandonment from God. That emotion is cleared.
The last phase of the therapy is called Agreement. This is where Splankna moves into the spiritual realm. Thiessen writes, “in our moments of emotional intensity, whether in the form of anger, pain, fear, etc., the enemy capitalizes on our vulnerability by offering deals to the deep heart… coping strategies, exchanges. When we agree with one of these offerings we make an Agreement with the enemy.” The goal here is to break those agreements.
By the end of the session Splankna has uncovered that the patient underwent trauma at age four that led to a feeling of angst toward his mother and abandonment by God. The specific memory is never recalled. The therapist and patient pray recap the therapy and pray together before ending their time together.
Thiessen never dreamed she would be the person for to blaze this new path. She writes in her book, “This is a call to the Christian community to redeem the world of quantum energy and its applications for the Kingdom of God.” Thiessen is a life-long Christian, growing up in the Church of Christ in Southern California. After studying at Abilene Christian University in Texas Thiessen moved to Denver to work at Samaritan Counseling Center. After meeting Dr. Martin and experiencing Energy Psychology she joined him in going to training for Thought Field Therapy. Soon she began incorporating the therapy into the practice. A few years later was trained in and began using N.E.T.
During the years of expanding her practice into Energy Psychology, Thiessen said, “I became more and more gripped with both the problems and the potentials of this field if approached from a biblical perspective. God seemed to keep reminding me of the simple fact that His creation is good… all of it.” As Thiessen wrestled with these thoughts she said, “I embarked on the next season- pressing into God with these questions, searching the Word, and asking for accountability and intercession from trusted fellow believers.”
In the book Splankna, Thiessen explains the science behind the therapy. She also gives her background, and how Splankna came about. Then she discusses New Age and Witchcraft and the Biblical perspective. She then discusses Splankna Therapy and ways of redeeming muscle therapy and Energy Psychology.
Hayley Greeno was skeptical when she first heard about Splankna. Greeno, who is studying counseling at Denver Seminary, said, “I thought it was so strange at first. That she was going to communicate through my arm.” Greeno’s perspective changed after a session of Splankna, “it uncovered things that would have taken years with normal counseling.”
The anonymous therapist from above, who has a Masters of Counseling, said, “The subconscious is storing these emotions in the body, now there’s a way to communicate with them directly. It’s so much faster than trying to use normal methods.”
More resources about Splankna can be found at Splankna.com. The book is available for purchase on the website, as well as links to scheduling an appointment.