What is Thought Field Therapy?

James Franklin

Thought field therapy (TFT) is a fairly controversial form of mental health treatment. It is based on the idea that human beings are surrounded by “thought fields,” areas of energy that help shape each person’s state of mind. Thought field therapists believe that psychological disorders can result if these energy fields are disturbed, and that these disorders can be treated using physical stimuli. Many psychologists dismiss this form of treatment, arguing that TFT’s supposed benefits are not bolstered by adequate data.

People who advocate thought field therapy believe that it can alleviate phobias and other anxiety disorders.
People who advocate thought field therapy believe that it can alleviate phobias and other anxiety disorders.

Proponents claim thought field therapy can be used to treat a host of mental illnesses including depression, phobias, addiction, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress. They also believe this form of therapy can help patients much more quickly than conventional treatments. Some TFT practitioners say some ailments can be cured in as little as a few minutes and others after only a few short sessions. TFT has notably been used to treat combat veterans and survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Thought field therapy is based on the same premise as acupuncture, and proponents believe it works more quickly than conventional therapy in treating such disorders as post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.
Thought field therapy is based on the same premise as acupuncture, and proponents believe it works more quickly than conventional therapy in treating such disorders as post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.

Thought field therapy is based on “meridian points,” areas around the body where fields of energy are thought to be strongest. This notion is borrowed from Chinese acupuncture, which holds that energy flows from specific points on the body. The patient recalls upsetting incidents or thoughts as the therapist literally taps on one of these meridian points. Meridian points are said to be located all along the body, from head to foot. TFT practitioners believe specific psychological disorders stem from different points throughout the body because of blockages or "perturbations" in the flow of energy.

Thought field therapy may be helpful in treating post-traumatic stress.
Thought field therapy may be helpful in treating post-traumatic stress.

Critics counter that there is little scientific evidence to back some of the claims made by thought field therapists. Some have suggested the placebo effect is at work, arguing that the patient feels better simply because he or she believes the treatment works. Others have suggested that TFT derives whatever effectiveness it might have by using techniques employed in cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves rewiring the patient’s synaptic pathways by encouraging changes in his or her thought patterns. Many critics have noted the lack of follow-up studies that demonstrate any positive, long-term effects in patients. The American Psychological Association has stated that TFT has no basis in science.

Proponents of thought field therapy believe is can help those with mental illnesses such as depression or addiction.
Proponents of thought field therapy believe is can help those with mental illnesses such as depression or addiction.

Thought field therapy was the invention of U.S. psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan, who studied at the University of Michigan and received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University. Dr. Callahan has run several clinics across the United States specializing in TFT. He also wrote several books that were translated into numerous languages.

Some thought field therapists believe some ailments can be cured in as little as a few minutes.
Some thought field therapists believe some ailments can be cured in as little as a few minutes.

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Discussion Comments

ZipLine

My sister went to thought field therapy after her husband died. She was depressed and was suffering from anxiety attacks. Thought field therapy helped, she is more calm and happy now.

I should say however that she was also on medications at the time, so we do wonder whether it was the therapy or the medications that helped. My sister believes it was the therapy and she does recommend it to others.

bear78

@SteamLouis-- I don't think that thought field therapy should be discounted so easily. Some are against this therapy saying that the positive effects of the therapy are due to a placebo effect. I don't think this is a good argument because even if the benefits are due to a placebo effect, this doesn't change the fact that it helps people.

The mind works in strange ways. Some treatment methods like acupuncture believe that just as the mind controls parts of the body, the mind can also be controlled by stimulating certain parts of the body. And sometimes, belief plays a big role in how much people benefit from certain treatments. If that wasn't the case, doctors would not be advising cancer patients to stay positive. They are told this because a positive outlook and belief that a treatment is going to work is actually effective.

To each his own, but I think that all therapy types, especially those with a basis in Eastern medicine have value and should be considered.

SteamLouis

It is quite silly to think that tapping certain points on the body could treat a mental illness or psychological disturbance. I think it would be wiser for patients to concentrate on mainstream medical treatments such as psychotherapy and medications.

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