In Tibet or ancient China a journey of discovery began that span more than 5000 years. Across great oceans of time and distance, East is meeting West. The theories of quantum physics are coming full circle and meeting face to face with the science of antiquity. This unlikely convergence of ideas is emerging in the even more unlikely arena of contemporary psychology. That is where a system of healing the mind and emotions is being explored that is unlike anything before. Breathtakingly rapid, startlingly effective, this new approach is captivating researchers in traumatology at Florida State University. It is called Thought Field Therapy and it is rewriting the rule book for psychotherapy.
What Is TFT - Thought Field Therapy?
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is one of the new leading-edge psychological treatment methods. Along with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) it is considered one of the new "power therapies" for the 21st century because of its superior performance in relieving human suffering.
How Does TFT - Thought Field Therapy Work?
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) derives its theoretical basis more from acupuncture and quantum field theory than from Freud's ideas of psychology. Perhaps the most holistic of all psychotherapy approaches, it works with the mind-body's natural energy system to facilitate psychological healing.
Thousands of years ago the Tibetans or Chinese discovered that the body had an energy system much like our circulatory system of veins and arteries. Through this energy system flows the life force or "Chi". By stimulating key points along the energy meridians, acupuncturists can regulate the flow of energy and disperse any blocks. This enables the body's natural healing system to promote physical wellness.
From this springboard of ancient learning we are quantum-leaping into a new millennium of psychotherapeutic possibilities. Through a gentle tapping on these acupressure points, while the patient mentally tunes into their emotional problem area, TFT accesses the same energy system and removes blocks to psychological healing.
TFT Therapy Through Energy
Quantum physics tells us that everything is energy (E=MC2). Even matter is energy but it is moving so slowly that it appears to be stationary. TFT theorizes that thought is energy too. This thought energy is bound in a field, a thought field that is similar to a gravitational field or a magnetic field. When the energy of the thought field is accessed through the acupressure points, we can disperse the traumas, painful emotional experiences and other mental negativity that blocks our emotional healing. When a disruption in the thought field is released, people can experience a rapid shift in how they feel.
With TFT, dramatic decreases in emotional disturbance can take place quickly and comfortably. When healing takes place at the quantum or energy level of our being, the results can be so unexpectedly swift that it challenges our notions of psychotherapy. Those who think therapy must take years and be terribly painful are baffled to reconcile their experience of TFT with their preconceived model of psychotherapeutic healing. The TFT process can be so simple and easy that people find it hard to attribute their improvement to it, even when there is no other plausible explanation for their change.
Caution And Curiosity
I too had difficulty grasping the plausibility of TFT at first. Its enigmatic tapping sequences were too far outside my initial paradigm of psychotherapy. But the rumors from colleagues that it was a remarkable method promising unheard of results finally caught my curiosity. TFT was said to be far faster and more effective than the usual therapeutic fare. So, I cautiously began to explore the TFT phenomenon. It's creator, Roger J. Callahan, Ph.D., had written a book titled, The Five Minute Phobia Cure.
I thought that if any problem could be cured in five minutes, especially one as significant as a phobia, that this would represent a major breakthrough in psychotherapy. It would certainly make other forms of treatment tantamount to frontier medicine. Still, I wondered if I was searching for the mythical El Dorado of psychotherapy. After all, curing a phobia in five minutes was so far beyond anything that I had actually seen at the time that it made the skeptic in me recoil.
Florida State University Study
Then I learned about the demonstration study conducted by Dr. Charles Figley, a renowned traumatologist and professor at FSU. I was drawn to this study for two reasons. First, Dr. Figley had a solid reputation. Any independent research by him was worth attention. Second, the study compared TFT to three other leading-edge therapies including EMDR and an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) process, both of which I was trained in and used daily in my practice. I knew first hand how profoundly effective EMDR could be. Dr. Figley's work allowed me to see how EMDR compared to TFT in a controlled study. This was when I began to get excited.
Results Of The FSU Study
The FSU study uses the subjective units of disturbance scale to rank the extent to which an experience or memory is emotionally painful. On this scale 0 = no disturbance at all and 10 = something as disturbing as one can imagine. The group of people studied were averaging a moderately painfully score of between 4.7 and 6.5. This group was then divided into four subgroups for treatment. Each subgroup was treated with a different therapy: TFT, EMDR, NLP(V-K Disassociation) or TIR (Traumatic Incident Reduction Therapy). Each method of treatment produced significant results with TFT leading in effectiveness. The total reduction in disturbance level for each group after treatment is listed below:
TFT = 3.3 EMDR = 3.0 TIR = 3.1 NLP = -0.5
TFT achieved the greatest decrease in disturbance level and did so in the shortest amount of time. Dr. Figley was impressed with all of the results but stated that TFT stood out from the other approaches because of several reasons including:
"It does not require the client to talk about their troubles, something that often causes more emotional pain and discourages many from seeking treatment."
"It is extremely efficient (fast and long lasting)."
Learning TFT - Thought Field Therapy
My journey of discovery continued, first at a training seminar in Boston and then on to Albuquerque to continue my evaluation of TFT. My training experiences allowed me to know TFT both as a clinician and from the client perspective. I had the opportunity to test TFT on myself. A few years ago I injured my arm while weight lifting. The underlying fear of another injury had become a deterrent to resuming exercise. At the end of my seminar in Boston, we used TFT to exorcise my fear of exercising. It took less than 30 minutes and now I'm once again comfortable in the gym. In Albuquerque, I used TFT to help relieve the physical pain of an intense headache. Between these personal experiences and helping colleagues resolve various problems with TFT, I was convinced. It was amazing to me! I had never seen or experienced problems being dispatched so comfortably, quickly or easily. I decided that I was ready to share my explorations of this new treatment method with my clients.
TFT - Thought Field Therapy In Action: A Case Example
Julie came to her first appointment looking distraught and extremely depressed. She was suffering from emotional abandonment, rejection and intense grief after a breakup with a romantic partner. She reported being obsessed about resurrecting the relationship. She could not stop calling or driving by. She could not let go. As she disclosed her history, she confided that she had experienced difficulty getting over the loss of a love before. She had dated her first partner for a year and a half. Then grieved the loss of that relationship for over seven years. This current breakup was from her second significant romantic love relationship. They dated for two years and she'd been grieving for nearly a year since then without getting better.
Julie had been in conventional psychotherapy off and on for several years but still ranked her suffering at a level 10. She was in such acute emotional pain that I asked her if she would be willing to work with an experimental new treatment that I was studying. I offered her TFT because we had limited time left in our session and because none of the other therapies that she had tried were helpful. She was open to the idea. I started by briefly explaining the theory behind TFT and showed her the acupressure points that we would be using. While she focused on the aspects of the problem that disturbed her the most, I guided her through the treatment protocol for trauma and love pain. After a third of the treatment sequence I paused to check her disturbance scale. Her pain had dropped from a level 10 to a level 7. This represents a 30% decrease in disturbance in about one minute!
Next we completed the full treatment protocol for trauma and love pain. We still had time left to test treatments for grief, guilt, jealousy, and repeat our original treatment once more. At a couple of crucial points during the session, we also corrected a type of psychological block known as a Psychological Reversal. This condition can prevent otherwise effective treatments from working.
By the time the session was over, her degree of disturbance had fallen to a level 4. This was a 60% drop from her painful starting point. This dramatic reduction in psychological pain took approximately 30 minutes to facilitate. She left smiling and looking as if a heavy weight had been lifted. She said that she could "cope with this level of disturbance."
Julie's Reaction To TFT - Thought Field Therapy
Julie came to her next appointment with a remarkable report. She said that she hadn't called or seen her former partner in over a week. Furthermore she decided to never call again. Her whole way of viewing their relationship had changed. She had begun to view her ex-partner more realistically. She could see when he was mean and deceitful. She realized that she didn't need anyone like that. She said her desperation was gone. She was now feeling a sense of serenity about the whole thing and her subjective level of disturbance had dropped to .5 on the ten point scale.
Julie went on to say, "It took 7 years to get over my first partner. I'm over this one in two weeks. I can't even describe how good it feels. That neediness isn't there anymore. I've forgiven myself for my obsessive actions. If he couldn't understand my needs and how I felt, then I don't need to be with him. I feel very neutral about it now. I'm ready to close the door."
The Many Uses Of TFT - Thought Field Therapy
After my work with Julie, I have used TFT to help people resolve many different types of issues including: the fear of not being accepted, the fear of surgery, fear of failure, fear of poverty, fear of talking to an old romantic partner, fear of cancer, fear of becoming like one's mother, anger at oneself and others, anger at God, guilt, addictive urges, panic attacks and various types of traumatic experiences including sexual abuse. TFT can be useful in treating all of the issues listed below:
Love Pain and Grief
Child Abuse Victims
Other Traumatic Experiences
Addictions and Addictive Urges
The Genius Of TFT - Thought Field Therapy
Albert Einstein once said, "the significant problems in our lives cannot be solved at the same level of understanding we were at when we created them." TFT powerfully employs a very different level in resolving life's problems. TFT may be a psychological Rosetta Stone that translates baffling emotional pain into decipherable solutions within the psyche via the mind-body's natural energy system.