Emotional Stress Release


One of the most interesting aspects of Energy Kinesiology is the Emotional Stress Release(ESR) technique. On our foreheads, and on the prominences above the eyes (Glabela) are two points that can have a profound calming effect. Lightly holding these points, or simply placing a hand across the forehead opens the mind to an adaptive rather than protective response to present, past, or anticipated stress or trauma. This is the essence of ESR. Once you know know to look for this, you can see examples in many places, from politicians on the hot seat to people stuck in traffic, instinctively holding these points. I remember a picture of Alan Greenspan testifying about finances before a congressional committee and holding his ESR points. It was recently pointed out to me that holding a hand on the forehead is a classical Yiddish gesture for frustration/disbelief, suggesting deep roots in our folk traditions.

Holding ESR points can often act within a minute to restore a sense of calm and improve focus and attention. However, it is fine to hold them for a long time and many times a day. Used in trauma response, they can be held continually. In therapy, an issue that has stress or some other form of protective response is visualized or re-experienced, while the points are held. Before starting ESR it is helpful to rate the level of stress on a scale from 1 – 10. A value of 8 or above is a good amount of stress to work with. A low value should be examined in more detail to distill the essence of stress from the issue. Then, the ESR points are held while the stress is re-experienced. Often after a few moments, the client will sigh, or indicate a change of state in some other way. You can stop here, or if you continue holding the points, another layer may emerge, where the client will drop into an earlier layer of stress or protection linked to the stress being worked with. Again after a few moments, this stress may be released. You can continue with this process until you have worked down through all of the available layers, or the client (or you) runs out of energy. After a moment’s rest, you can re-evaluate the level of stress. It is common for the stress assessment to drop from an 8 to a 2, or even 0. In revisiting the issue at a later date it is normal for the context to have substantially changed or even for the issue to no longer seem relevant. I am still surprised when asking clients about a pressing issue from a previous session that I had treated with ESR, and about which they have completely forgotten!

ESR points are integrated into Brain Integration Technique(Crossinology), Touch for Health, and many other therapeutic modalities. There is published research documenting a significant effect on autonomic nervous system activity, heart rate variability, and metabolism, all useful indicators for levels of stress. The ESR points are also known as the Frontal Points as they are on the Frontal Eminences on the forehead. There is a variant of ESR that additionally uses the other hand on the Occipital bone at the base of the skull. This variant is known as the FO (Frontal/Occipital) Hold. In the FO Hold, one hand, or two fingers and the thumb, are placed on the ESR points, and the other hand, or two fingers and thumb are placed at the base of the skull on the occipital eminences. This variant works especially well with the client lying face up and also allows for tracking cranial rhythm, which provides useful feedback to the therapist.

Explanations of the means of action of these points seem incomplete. The possibility I am most attuned to is that given that the Frontal Cortex, with its executive control responsibilities, lies right behind the ESR points, and that in touching the forehead, the increased mass lowers the frequency of Frontal Cortex brain wave oscillations. This slower rate provides additional time for synchronization of diverse neural pathways, enabling learning instead of projecting a reactive, protective response. The Occipital Hold may engage the Cerebellum and Brain Stem in a similar way, helping integrate high and low brain resonance relative to a specific issue.


As with the Emotional Freedom Technique, ESR can be done in conjunction with setting a goal. A goal should be framed positively in the present tense. For example: “I am safe” is a better goal than “I will be safe”, even though the second may seem more rational and aligned with your intention. The goal can combine an issue and statement such as: “Even though I worry that X will not like me, I am safe”. The more specific the issue the better, and you will find that as you work through your collection of issues, your emotional triggers are less active, and you feel more settled and in control.

I learned about these points in the Touch for Health training. My understanding is that these points were originally part of Dr. Terrence Bennett’s Neuro-Vascular Point set, and the realization of their efficacy in treating emotional stress emerged some years later. There is more information on these points and many other self-help techniques in: “Touch for Health, The Complete Edition” by John and Matthew Thie.