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Thought Field Therapy (TFT): “Tapping” Out Mood & Anxiety Woes?

“I have been using TFT for only 3 days, and am already seeing results in my ability to handle stressful situations, without allowing it to take me off course. Very easy to follow, takes less than 5 minutes, yet the results are very powerful.  I am very grateful for this program!”

So says Louise S. on the Thought Field Therapy (TFT) website. Well, let’s take a look and see what we’re dealing with here.

What is Thought Field Therapy?

Well, if you asked its founder, Dr. Roger J. Callahan, he’d tell you it provides a code to nature’s healing system. Tall words, to be sure.

Callahan, by the way, is a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

TFT is a treatment that, according to Callahan and others, heals all sorts of woes. Among them – anxiety, stress, phobias, anger, substance abuse, nail biting, sexual problems, mood swings, depression, and even atrial fibrillation.

TFT is administered by specialized tapping with fingers at what are called meridian points (another controversial issue).

Callahan says it goes like this. When we think about an experience or thought associated with an emotional issue, we’re tuning-in to a thought field.

Perturbations are precisely encoded bits of information contained in our thought fields. And each deformity within a thought field is said to be connected to a particular issue (anxiety, depression, etc.) – and activated by thinking about it.

Perturbations are, according to Callahan, at the foundation of negative emotions. Each perturbation corresponds to a meridian point in the body.

So I suppose it makes sense that in an effort to purge the issue from the body, a precise sequence of meridian points have to be tapped. And the tapping removes roadblocks from, or balances, the flow of qi (let’s just call it energy).

The Real McCoy or a Hoax?

Well, in 2001 the Editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology surprised all by agreeing to publish, without peer review, any five articles Callahan submitted on TFT.

The critics weren’t kind. Among the issues cited – only successful cases were selected, no control group was used, no controls were in place to catch a placebo effect, and lack of a credible theory.

So impressed was Harvard Psychology Professor Richard J. McNally that he said, “Until Callahan has done his homework, psychologists are not obliged to pay any attention to TFT.”

And how ’bout this one about a Callahan article from psychologist John Kline? “…represents a disjointed series of unsubstantiated assertions, ill-defined neologisms, and far-fetched case reports that blur boundaries between farce and expository prose.”

But Callahan and TFT need not feel alone. A 2006 Delphi poll of psychologists indicated that in addition to TFT, most weren’t thrilled with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and others.

All were believed to exhibit characteristics of pseudoscience.

Now, then – TFT has robust support from many. Here are a few quotes (from Callahan’s website)…

“When I observe a number of suffering patients who did not respond to our usual treatment modalities, suddenly get better after TFT algorithms are given, I don’t need a double-blind controlled study to tell me the value of TFT.”  James McKoy, MD Chief, Pain Clinic, Chief Rheumatology Services Assistant Chief, Neuroscience Department, Kaiser Permanente, Hawaii region.

“Traditional psychotherapy is like swinging at a pitch with your eyes closed. TFT causal diagnosis is like shooting the ball out of the stadium with a cannon. It’s that fast and powerful.”  John D. Gray, PsyD, Idaho Falls, ID

“An invaluable tool to help the thousands of people suffering from a variety of psychological problems. Even if yours is a complex case, Dr. Callahan’s method works.”  from the Foreword by Dr. Earl Mindell, author of Prescription Alternatives and Dr. Earl Mindell’s Secrets of Natural Health

Dr. Callahan has demonstrated TFT techniques on CNN, Regis & Kelly, LEEZA, and Oprah.

My Opinion & A Wrap

I have no doubt TFT has worked wonders for many. And I’m sure it’s been nothing but a waste of time and money for others. Here’s my gut…

Dr. Callahan has done a great job of conceiving and marketing a creative and attractive treatment. I mean, it’s something you really can’t argue against because, well, it does work for some (in spite of absolutely no scientific evidence).

Tons of carefully considered and powerful key words are used by Callahan – code, healing, meridian points, thought field, perturbations, qi. All sound great, and with a bit of spin and enough marketing finesse, many in pain will enjoy the benefits of a placebo effect.

But who am I to burst anyone’s bubble?

Check-out TFT for yourself. Click here to head to Dr. Callahan’s site (but be sure to do an Internet search, as well).

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  • Within the realm of the emotional/mental woes – and their effective intervention – I wouldn’t rule anything out (um, within reason). This is an excellent – detailed – testimony, BCat – and it’s appreciated. Once again, you bring valuable info to Chipur, which will be helpful to anyone who happens by. Readers – I tapped the link and it’s safe – and worth consideration. Ty, BCat…
    Bill