The auxiliary field method is a technique to obtain approximate closed formulae for the solutions of both nonrelativistic and semirelativistic eigenequations in quantum mechanics. For a many-body Hamiltonian describing identical particles, it is shown that the approximate eigenvalues can be written as the sum of the kinetic operator evaluated at a mean momentum p0 and of the potential energy computed at a mean distance r0. The quantities p0 and r0 are linked by a simple relation depending on the quantum numbers of the state considered and are determined by an equation which is linked to the generalized virial theorem. The (anti)variational character of the method is discussed, as well as its connection with the perturbation theory. For a nonrelativistic kinematics, general results are obtained for the structure of critical coupling constants for potentials with a finite number of bound states. MSC 2010: 81Q05.