New Innovations in Psychotherapy
Thought Field Therapy (tm)
& Emotional Freedom Techniques(tm):
Over the last fifteen years there have been a number of exciting developments in therapeutic techniques. Among the most unique and promising are, Thought Field Therapytm and Emotional Freedom Techniques tm. These new and similar approaches have roots in alternative approaches such as acupuncture, accupressue, and Applied Kinesiology(A.K.)
Thought Field Therapy tm (T.F.T.) was developed by the psychologist, Roger Callahan,Ph.D. who refined Applied Kinesiology methods. Thought field practice he identified a series of procedures for resolving selective emotional and psychological problems. Craig developed a variation of this treatment which he calls, Emotional Freedom Techniquestm ( E.F.T.).
His approach bears strong similarities and is distinguished by the development of a simpler, universal procedure which builds upon many aspects of Dr. Callahan's work.
How are these different?
Traditional counseling techniques rely heavily on discussing identified problems and their roots in a client's historical past. After identifying these problems, therapists work with clients to explore a variety of solutions for their symptoms or situational life problem(s). While there is much merit to these approaches, there can be disadvantages of lengthened time and difficulty in achieving measurable results. Acupuncture and accupressure have increasingly been gaining wider acceptance in the medical community. Acupuncture goes back some 5,000 years in traditional Chinese Medicine. Using those methods, healing is said to be achieved through stimulating and redirecting the body's energy. Western medicine is increasingly gaining acceptance of these techniques although the precise reasons and mechanism are not yet understood. Many agree and accept that acupuncture works and have a wide range of usefulness. Further scientific research is needed to uncover the precise mechanisms for healing.
How does it work?
Like Acupuncture, EFT/TFT relies on stimulating points in the body but in comfortable and non-painful ways. This is done by the client tapping their fingers on precise points and performing simple tasks like moving their eyes, humming, or counting. Callahan and Craig explain their rapid results in a similar way by making references to clearing disturbances (perturbations) or rerouting the body's energy. In reality, there is not yet any hard scientific evidence to bolster that particular theory. Several other explanations are also possible such as the releasing of neurotransmitters in the brain and creating new, positively reinforced responses to particular symptoms and reactions. Getting good results from these unusual techniques does not depend on your beliefs about its merit. I often introduce this technique as an, "experiment" that may or may not work. Given that positive and rapid results are often experienced, it is often worth exploring this option. The benefits may save many hours of therapy and a significant expense to the client.
Questions Often Asked:
"This sounds pretty weird to me! Do I have to do this in order to work with my therapist?"
No, it is by no means required. It is important that clients be able to determine for themselves the course and goals of their treatment. Your therapist is trained in a variety of techniques in addition to TFT/EFT as one of several treatment options. Know that many therapists also find this to be "weird" including this writer who resisted learning more because it seemed too strange to even consider. However, the reputation of the technique has grown if not by empirical research, then by the enthusiastic testimonials of many.
As there are no "side-effects" or problems associated with this treatment , it may be worth considering.
"Do the effects of this kind of treatment last?"
Yes, they often do last but there are some exceptions. Emotional problems are often complex and multi-layered. Just as a diamond has many different facets and sides, so too do anxieties and other issues. When symptoms return it may be due to the client having another aspect of the problem surfacing. Future sessions provide a chance to target and resolve these remaining symptoms/problems. Know that the return of symptoms or previous behavioral patterns is not uncommon for many therapeutic techniques. Often it is a sign that more work may be needed.
"How many sessions does it take using TFT/EFT"?
The length of treatment can depend upon the complexity of the problem and whether there are other factors which need to be addressed. Some clients experience significant results in 1-3 sessions. Some clients benefit from a longer treatment time.
"Why do you have people move their eyes, hum, and count at certain times?"
This portion often raises questions and causes clients to feel silly. When clients count numbers aloud, they are accessing the left hemisphere of their brain. Choosing and humming a brief portion of a song accesses the right hemisphere of the brain. While this part of the procedure is not always necessary, many clients seem to benefit from this integrating part of the procedure.
"Yeah, I feel much better but didn't all this tapping and humming just distract me?"
During the procedure, your therapist does not want you to be distracted. In fact, you will be asked to picture the thought or situation which troubles you while you perform the tapping or other task. Picturing the target scene or memory helps to "tune-in" and is important to the success of the treatment. Many clients report feeling significantly better and are puzzled or even annoyed because they did not expect it to work. Craig and Callahan call this, "the apex problem," in that clients are unable to explain why they feel significantly better Without an explanation that makes sense to them, some mistakenly conclude that nothing really happened. Some seem to feel annoyed and may feel that something magical or dishonest just occurred. Many counselors also share the same puzzlement as to why this works. TFT/EFT defies much of what we have learned about psychology and emotional problems.
In a similar way, acupuncture challenges western medical notions about illnesses and cures. Since the only side effect of this treatment is the fear that you might appear silly and expend only a portion of a session, it is often worth a try. With more traditional approaches, you might invest many hours into a particular method before determining that another technique is advisable. You may have nothing to lose but the pain, fear, or trouble your situation is causing in your life!
"Does this work on everybody?"
No one medical or counseling technique works for everybody just as one size doesn't truly fit all. Sometimes symptoms do not extinguish or may return due to exposure to a particular environmental substance such as nicotine. Fortunately, it is easy and quick to learn. If you do not respond to this technique, it is easy to use another approach.
"Are there any side-effects or risks?"
Some clients may feel awkward or silly using this technique because they may have expected that they would be fixing things by talking about and understanding about their problem(s). While insight and understanding can be helpful, it may be completely unnecessary for resolving many issues. There are no known harmful effects for TFT/EFT. During the treatment, it is common for some feelings and thoughts to surface and even change. For example a client wanting to target angry feelings which surface may reduce their anger. Next, they may become aware of an profound sadness which lies beneath the anger. This can be discussed and targeted until the different aspects of the emotional and thought field are addressed. At times, these feelings may uncover sad, angry, hurt, or anxiety. This is part of the process and may then be targeted by your therapist to address.
What can I expect?
You will be asked to hold in your thoughts a target thought, memory, or emotion. The therapist will have you rate the current intensity or discomfort of the target on a 0-10 scale. Next, your therapist will show you where you can tap or rub on your body while focusing your thoughts on the identified target. These points are on the face, chest area, and hand. You may be asked to recite a phrase to assist you in tuning into an aspect of your problem or a point where you feel stuck.
Remember, it's important to not be distracted by these activities . Focus your thoughts on the target you have picked. The nine gamut procedure involves tapping a point on your hand while performing some simple tasks like moving your eyes, humming, counting. After a round or two of this, your counselor will have you stop and recall the image or thought back to mind and rate whether there has been any change. If other aspects of the problem emerge, your therapist will assist you in targeting them as well. While this may stir up some intense feelings, it is usually far less distressful than other techniques such as E.M.D.R., or traditional Behavioral techniques like Flooding.
Is TFT/EFT for me ?
Each client has the right to be informed about and determine the course of his/her treatment. These techniques have been useful to thousands of people and might be helpful. If you wish additional information, your therapist can provide you with additional written material or a videotape. Many clients are wise to go with their intuition as it is important for therapy to feel like a good fit for your own personal style. Your therapist will be glad to discuss this and questions about other forms of treatment as well.
M. Costa, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker