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TFT - Definition, Method, Application

TFT is an integrated, meridian-based, mind-body-energy psychotherapy, which includes diagnostic and treatment procedures performed while the patient is attuned to their problem. In TFT, the negative emotions are alleviated through gentle activation of designated acupuncture points, which neutralize or eliminate the energetic cause of experienced problem

TFT is unlike any traditional psychotherapy and involves a paradigm shift.

The systematic use of the body's subtle energy system with thought and emotion, and the rapid rate in which emotional problems resolve, set TFT apart from other forms of psychotherapy.


TFT was discovered in 1981 by Dr. Roger Callahan, a cognitive psychologist who had tried everything in his repertoire to help a woman with a lifelong, severe and apparently intractable water phobia.

He decided to try a variation on a holistic, mind-body healing method he had been studying, based on the theory in Chinese medicine that energy flows along meridian lines in the body. These meridian points appear to act as a governing force in healing and growth. When the energy points are blocked or unbalanced, the person experiences emotional disturbance or what Dr. Roger Callahan calls "perturbances."

He discovered that by directly treating the blockage in the energy flow created by disturbing thought pattern, the disturbance or upset disappears. It virtually eliminates any negative feeling previously associated with a thought.

In an attempt to help Mary, his patient with the water phobia, he tested his theory. He asked her to think about water, tap with two fingers on the point that connected with the stomach meridian and much to his surprise, her fear of water completely disappeared.

"The fear is gone!," she exclaimed and went running around the swimming pool behind his office.

Not only had her fear evaporated but the apparent cure remains effective to this day.

Callahan continued to expand on his discovery and has come up with a number of brief treatments or "algorithms." Algorithms are step-by-step procedures or sequences of body taps geared to particular conditions which patients can perform on themselves.

Conditions Treated:

TFT is highly versatile and easily integrates with other forms of psychotherapy. Some of the target areas of treatment include the following:

* Traumatic Experience
* Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
* Anger
* Guilt
* Depression
* Shame
* Jealousy
* Anxiety
* Panic
* Phobias (e.g. Heights, flying, water, snakes, claustrophobia, etc.)
* Stress Management
* Addictive Urges
* Pain Management
* Dissociative Disorders (including DID)
* Sport and Performance Issues
* Psychosomatic Issues
* Allergy and Energy Toxins


TFT is practiced in a variety of ways. While data are not available, the majority of practitioners likely use algorithms in their work with clients. The algorithms consist of a series of prescribed activities that are followed in cookbook fashion. There are different algorithms for different problems. A readily available algorithm for psychological trauma (Figley, 1995) consists of a number of steps.

First, the client "attunes" to the thought field. This is no more than to say that the client needs to be in the distressing situation or be thinking about the distressing situation while tapping. Clients then rate their self-perceived level of anxiety using a subjective units of distress scale (SUDS) rating (usually consisting of a rating between one-and-ten). Clients then tap (with two fingertips) a variety of points on the face, hands, and body while staying attuned to the thought field. The points that are tapped are known as acupoints because these points were originally used in acupuncture treatments. Subsequent to tapping and a deep breath, another SUDS rating is provided.

If the second rating is not noticeable lower than the first, tapping continues on a specific point on the fleshy part of the hand while repeating to oneself, "I accept myself, even though I still have this kind of anxiety." This phrase is repeated three times and then the algorithm begins again at the start. TFT proponents report that this intervention corrects "psychological reversal" a hypothetical condition in which the flow of energy along the meridians is reversed. Psychological reversal (PR) is understood to interfere with a therapeutic response to tapping on acupoints.

The algorithm continues, adding tapping on a specific point on the back of the hand (known as the gamut spot) while performing a variety of activities, such as rolling the eyes, humming, counting, etc. (See the appendix for the specific algorithm.) The gamut spot is tapped in TFT treatments in conjunction with eye movements and the performing of activities normally controlled by different brain hemispheres. The gamut treatments are understood to be a unitary intervention and are "used in treating most problems" (Callahan & Callahan, 1996, p. 102). The algorithm then ends by repeating the tapping and SUDS rating procedures. Normally, the algorithm is repeated at least four times.

This algorithm is unique to treating trauma. Other problems are treated by different algorithms that modify the order of the points that are tapped, and by tapping at different points.

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