What is Thought Field Therapy?
Thought Field Therapy (TFT), otherwise known as "tapping", and sometimes by its similar counterpart, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), was developed pscyhologist Roger Callahan, PhD, in 1981. TFT applies the ancient science shared by the fields of acupuncture and accupressure, whereby stimulation of certain energy meridians can help alleviate emotional distress.
Through working diagnostically with thousands of clients, Dr Callahan developed a list of 14 meridien points and their corresponding emotions. He was also able to determine the appropriate order of stimulation (algorithms) of each of the points for maximum relief of the specific distress being targeted.
How does Jane use TFT in her practice?
Jane calls TFT "acupuncture without the needles" and uses it in her therapy as an adjunct to EMDR. She finds it to be extremely useful in helping clients put away the issues of the day and focus on therapy, and to close down therapy sessions that have been difficult, enabling the client to leave the session feeling settled. She also finds it very effective in reducing the intensity of distress and in erasing disturbing images that have lodged themselves in the mind from movies or news stories.
Most clients are extremely skeptical when first introduced to TFT, but all agree to try it once. Some are astounded when they find that an issue that they rated as a 8 on a 0-10 scale of disturbance comes down to a 2 or a 3. Others, who had no problem rating their issue as an 8 before tapping, suddenly decide "they don't do ratings" at the end of the tapping. Still others claim it must simply be a distraction technique, but begrudgingly admit it made a difference. Very few find that it doesn't work at all.
Is there any research behind TFT?
In fact, some interesting research studies have been conducted in TFT. One of the first, using participants with acrophobia (fear of heights), led the experimental group in the correct pressure points in the correct order, while the control group were asked to tap on non-meridien points. The results demonstrated a significant reduction in symptoms among the experimental group and very little impact on the control group (Carbonell, 1997). Other studies have compared TFT with alternative treatments for trauma, including EMDR, in which TFT held up surprisingly well in producing effective results (Karatzias et al, 2011; Carbonell and Figley, 1996). Finally, it's worth noting that the Journal of Clinical Psychology devoted an entire edition to the study of TFT (2001).
Carbonell, J. (1997). An experimental study of TFT and acrophobia. (where published: TBC).
Carbonell, J. & Figley, C. (1996) A systematic clinical demonstration of promising PTSD approaches. Family Therapy Networker (6), July/August.
Karatzias, T. et al. (2011). A controlled comparison of the effectiveness and efficiency of two psychological therapies for posttraumatic stress disorder: eye movement desensitization and reprocessing vs emotional freedom techniques. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 199 (6), 372-8.
Journal of Clinical Psychology, Oct2001, Vol. 57 Issue 10
What's the difference between TFT and EFT?
As mentioned above, TFT has 14 points and multiple algorithms (which order to tap the points in) depending on the emotions and situation being addressed. A student of Dr Callahan decided that TFT was unnecessarily complicated and developed EFT (the Emotional Freedom Technique) to simplify matters. The main difference between TFT and EFT is that EFT uses the same algorithm whatever the issue.
How can I learn more?
Jane lists two books about TFT on her resources page that can be purchased directly from Amazon. Click here to visit the page.
Ready to give it a go?
Click here for a list of points and some common algorithms!
Information on this page is taken from materials provided by Jill Strunk, Ed.D., LP., TFTdxVT in her training for therapists, Rapid Resolution for Intractable Problems, 19 September, 2009. Permission has been given for the use of her materials on this website as a resource for clients of Jane McCampbell, MA, LMFT. Permission has NOT been given for general download or distribution. Please do not reproduce or copy this material in any form.
© 2012, Jane McCampbell, MA, LMFT
PTSD Therapist and EMDR Counselor
Jane McCampbell Counseling Services, LLC,
Minneapolis/St Paul, MN