The study was carried out on programmes conducted by Aleš Ernst, founder and Level 5 teacher of the AEQ method; the results can therefore not be extrapolated to include AEQ programmes led by teachers of lower levels, or to address the effectiveness of somatics, clinical somatics or the Feldenkreis method.
A total of 749 participants were included in the study, which was conducted between September 2021 and July 2022. More than 80% of participants expressed long-term concern over their health. Their chronic pains was considerably greater than that of the general population. We used a questionnaire to measure chronic pain – Patient Heatlh Questionnaire PHQ 15. The term ‘chronic pain’ refers to: stomach pain, back pain, chest pain, pain in the arms, legs and joints, difficulties sleeping, feelings of fatigue or lack of energy, weakness, wind and other digestive problems, constipation or diarrhoea, pain or problems during sexual intercourse, shallow breathing, accelerated heart beat, fainting, dizziness, headaches, menstrual cramps and other menstrual problems.
We used the Systemic Therapy Inventory of Change to measure the emotional components of these conditions.
In this study we were most interested in finding out whether there was a statistically significant difference in the level of chronic pain before and after participation in an AEQ programme – or, more simply: whether participation in AEQ programmes led by Aleš Ernst led, on average, to a reduction in the level of chronic pain. The result is very clear:
Figure 1. Differences in cronic pains before and after participation in an AEQ programme (three, six and nine months after completion of an AEQ programme)
The graph in Figure 1 shows a statistically significant difference in chronic pains before and after participation in an AEQ programme. Therefore, on average, the level of chronic pain is reduced, which is the main objective of the participants, who have been suffering from chronic pain for a prolonged period of time. The impact of participation in an AEQ programme is clear after one month, three months, six months and nine months.
We also examined which sub-dimensions of the Systemic Therapy Inventory of Change related most strongly to chronic pain. Only the strongest relationships are highlighted. All relationships are shown in the tables in the main study report. We measured the relationships using correlation coefficients. We therefore do not refer to cause and effect but to the relationship between chronic pain and other sub-dimensions.
Chronic pains are most related (0.565) to the expression of negative affects. Put simply: the greater the expression of negative affects, the greater the chronic pain. And vice versa: the greater the chronic pain, the greater the expression of negative affects. We can state that this relationship is highly positive.
Furthermore, chronic pain is moderately strongly and positively related to an absence of inhibition of strong impulses (a simple inability to control outbursts of anger and rage) and self-misunderstanding. Therefore, the more uncontrollable anger and rage felt by a participant, the greater the chronic pain, and the greater a participant’s self-misunderstanding, the greater the chronic pain – and vice versa. There is also a moderately positive relationship between chronic pain and negativity within the family of origin – i.e. the greater the negativity in the family of origin, the greater the chronic pain today.
The study also found a moderately negative relationship between chronic pain and life functioning, self-acceptance, and flexibility and resilience. Explanation: participants have lower levels of chronic pain when life functioning, self-acceptance, flexibility and resilience are greater, and vice versa.
All the above-mentioned relationships are statistically significant to the level of 1%, which means that we can, on the basis of the study and the sample, and with almost complete certainty, extrapolate the findings to the general population (the risk of error is only 1%).
Keywords: AEQ programme, cronic pains, feelings, medically unexplained symptoms, somatization
Aleš Ernst, founder and Level 5 teacher of the AEQ method
Janez Logar, Master’s degree in couples and family therapy, physiotherapist, Level 1 teacher of the AEQ method