Blog Post

Why You Should Pass on Somato-Emotional Release Therapy

John Upledger, DO John Upledger, DO

CF writes: “I have a question regarding a therapy. A friend of mine briefly talked about a therapy he recently experienced call ‘Somato-Emotional Release (SER) Therapy.’ I have not been able to find any information regarding this therapy from a Catholic perspective. Is this a therapy Catholics should avoid?”

SER Therapy should not be used by Catholics – or anyone else for that matter – because this is an unscientific method created by a man who believes he can communicate with his patients’ “Inner Physician” who tells him how to treat the person.

For those who never heard of it, SomatoEmotional Release (SER) is a therapy used to rid the mind and body of residual effects of past trauma associated with negative experiences. It was created in response to the research of the late Dr. John Upledger, DO and founder of the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida who was also a proponent of the bogus craniosacral therapy.

According to Upledger, the body retains emotional energy from traumatic events which form “energy cysts” that strain the body, weakening it and causing it to develop symptoms of pain or other emotional stress. The goal of SER, which expands upon craniosacral therapy, is to dissipate the residual effects of this past trauma from the mind, body and spirit and to determine how it was influencing the physical and emotional health of the patient.

Here’s how one practitioner describes a typical SER session:

“An SER process begins when the patient, usually non-consciously, gives permission or makes an agreement with the therapist. The therapist communicates their permission through touch. The patient understands, whether consciously or no, that this is an opportunity for an SER process. The therapist’s touch, whether supporting a limb, offering energy to the body at an energy cyst site or dialoging, facilitates the release. . . .

"When an SER begins, so will movement in the patient's body. If you are supporting a limb or limbs they may make large movements; the whole body, in fact, may go into some pattern or other. If you have your hands resting on the body, the large movements may happen as well but you may detect very subtle, quiet movement or any number of release signs within the otherwise still body. What you feel may be as subtle as emotion leaving tissue with no other outward sign. . . . As the energy is discharged, the patient can re-experience the emotional component of that energy and the incident which placed this foreign energy into the tissues.”

Needless to say, there is no scientific evidence to support either craniosacral or SER therapy. Catholics are obligated to use ordinary means to treat any serious and/or contagious disease so a therapy of this kind should be avoided unless it is being used for something very minor.