TFT, EFT vs EMDR, Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Psychology and Inner Child Work

I am writing this more for myself than for anyone else as I seek to develop a basic model which will formulate a unified understanding of how the above mentioned various psychological disciplines work. I have found them all useful and have employed them on myself in addition to sharing them with around 150,000 others throughout the last 35 years.

The Apparent Conflict

TFT (Thought Field Therapy by Dr. Roger Callahan) and its offshoots such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques by Callahan?s student Gary Craig) seem to "apparently" conflict with the premises of Cognitive Therapy concerning whether our emotions are caused by our beliefs or the disturbed energy field created when we think of the stimulus. The word "apparently" is in quotation marks because what is apparent on the surface is often not true in the depths.

We have a similar "apparent" conflict with cathartic psychological approaches, which heal by bringing hidden pain, anger or guilt to the surface so that it can be released through some form of catharsis. After releasing, we can install a new alternative more objective and positive perception of ourselves and reality.

Without catharsis, psychotherapy or cognitive therapy can be like trying to record new music or information (beliefs) on a prerecorded cassette, which we have not yet erased. We will have two recordings - two simultaneous belief systems - subconscious and conscious.

No matter how much we strengthen our affirmations or new positive beliefs, if the old ones are still there, then when activated they will overpower our new intellectually based perceptions. Intellectual conscious understanding and spiritual beliefs are usually weaker than automatic unconscious experience-based emotional reactions.

TFT and EFT, on the other hand, demonstrate daily that most often neither analysis nor catharsis is necessary.

New Discoveries Often Encompass Previous Conceptions

Science often evolves in ways so that new discoveries do not actually reject previous perceptions but often encompass them and describe greater realties, which include but also transcend our previous conceptions.

An example is that of Einstein?s law of relativity which does not negate Newton?s laws of motion but simply explains that for objects with sufficient mass (larger than atoms) and moving considerably slower than the speed of light Newton?s laws and Einstein?s will give essentially the same results.

So now with Thought Field Therapy, in my opinion, we are moving on to an understanding which includes and validates but also transcends the hypotheses of:

1. Cognitive Therapy = emotions are created by beliefs - thoughts.

2. Catharsis based psychology = negatively charged emotional memories and their consequent beliefs need to be corrected (not necessarily released) and transformed in order to manifest a significant and lasting change.

Obviously these perceptions are at least relatively true. If we do not think about the disturbing issue, then we do not get the emotion. And in until now (pre-TFT) most cases would not heal if we did not experientially release the emotional charge associated with related traumatic experiences.

The Miracle of TFT

On the other hand, now we see that by simply tapping on certain acupuncture points while focusing on the disturbing thought-field and without making any attempt to change our beliefs, we are freed from long lasting extremely intense emotions such a phobias and the pain of the loss of loved ones.

We are forced to conclude that since this happens almost immediately, simply by tapping on certain acupuncture points, that the energy field related to this emotion (which being affected by the tapping) must be the direct or at least the "intervening cause" of the emotional reaction.

I chose the word "intervening cause" here, because without the original thought, there would be no disturbance.

In some cases, without actually consciously being aware of the thought-field, we can have a continual subconscious disturbance in the body?s energy field, which often leads eventually to psychosomatic or even psychological illness.

A Unifying Theory

In order to explain my perception of these basic systems of psychotherapy, I would like to make a number of hypotheses, which you are free to accept or reject. I welcome comments for and against my evolving perception of what is happening.

Basic Premises

Here, I will make some shorter unexplained statements of some premises. If you are interested in a more detailed analysis you can contact me.

1. As human beings we are basically consciousness which is comprised of ever changing and interacting mental, emotional, energy and physical fields.

2. These fields are incessantly interacting and affecting each other.

Thoughts are energy Fields

Each thought itself is in reality an energy field, which when charged in a certain way becomes what we experience as an emotional field. This emotional field also affects in turn our energy field, thought field and our physical body (psychosomatic illnesses).

4. Our beliefs create our thoughts, which are actually energy fields, which create our emotions.

5. Here is the basic key the confusion - the thought IS the energy field which when it has a certain charge is creating the emotional reaction and resulting physical phenomena. When the charge is removed, then the same thought has no emotional dimension. This charge is a result of the beliefs, which creates the thought.

Consciousness-Mind-Energy-Body Continuum

Our consciousness, mind, energy and body are a continuum where any intervention or disturbance at any level will create a corresponding change on the other levels of this continuum.

Imagine a trough with water with various barriers made from mesh which separate the trough into compartments but there is still a wave communication between them through the common medium of the water.

Wherever we make a disturbance, its effect is felt throughout all compartments in the trough. And if at any point in this continuum of water we intervene with some type settling effect, this creates a peace in all the other compartments.

In the continuum of our being, we tend to think of the body, energy, thoughts and beliefs as separate, but in fact they are all "compartments" of consciousness. Any intervention on all any level affects all the other levels.

7. Thus we can change our thought-field by tapping on the acupuncture points thus changing the energy flow, removing its charge and the thought-energy-field which is creating the emotional disturbance.

8. Thus, our emotions are the result of our thought-energy -fields, which are created by our beliefs, which in turn are a result of our multileveled ? belief system. (We will come back to the concept of multileveled beliefs)

Our Thoughts are Charged

Our beliefs interpret each and every stimulus (external and mental) assigning a positive, negative or neutral charge to that stimulus depending on what our belief system tells us about what is happening or what we are thinking about.

10. This "charge" is then associated to that stimulus and thus when we think of it or confront it, we feel indifference, security, relaxation, happiness or fear, pain or anger depending on our interpretation.

11. This then creates a corresponding energy field associated with that specific stimulus.

12. Our emotional reality depends thus on our beliefs about that stimulus and the thought-energy-field, which is created when we confront or think of the stimulus

We have Multiple Beliefs about the Same Stimulus

We have multiple beliefs about the same stimulus.

TFT will say, "but the person does not believe that he is in danger, his energy field makes him feel that way." Or, "Why doesn?t his fear go away when he changes his conscious belief?"

Obviously this person has multiple parallel beliefs, creating multiple thought-fields concerning the same stimulus.

This is also a major key. The thought we have about any stimulus is in fact an energy field concerning that issue, which creates a resulting emotional reaction.

But we have various thoughts and thus many thought and energy fields concering the same stimulus.

Multiple Parallel Beliefs

I would like to hypothesize some different categories of beliefs.

a. Emotionally Charged Impressions - (ECI) - These are not so much beliefs as "impressions", which are imprinted on the mind during traumatic experiences. The mind then identifies this particular stimulus with this emotionally charged feeling and when we think of it, we feel fear or other emotions. We do not go through thinking processes here such as analyzing, evaluating and coming to conclusions. This kind of "belief" has a strong "charge" but no actual inertia, because it is not based on many observations and facts.

b. Mistaken Childhood Conclusions - (MCC) - These are usually mistaken beliefs about reality in which we perceive ourselves as weak, wrong, unlovable and to blame for just about everything that happens around us such as our parents anger, absence, unhappiness, indifference, divorce, illness, death etc.

These first two categories are usually repressed in the subconscious mind (shadow, inner child - whatever you prefer) because of the pain and confusion they produce. We suppress them so that we can focus and function in our daily lives. They are encased in an "energy membrane" much as our body envelopes a sliver in our skin in order to prevent it from poisoning the rest of the body.

These "beliefs" are repressed so that we do not feel the unpleasant negative emotional- energy charge associated with them.

They do of course exist in the subconscious and produce their corresponding energy field every time we come into contact with or think of the stimulus. As already mentioned, they also create psychosomatic illnesses.

These "Beliefs" are Stagnant and do not Evolve as We Do

Because of their repression and subsequent isolation from our conscious mind, these "beliefs" do not evolve as we do. They remain in their original state regardless of our evolving logic, reasoning, new experiences and spiritual faith. They receive no new data.

The third category of beliefs is our:

c. Evolving Conscious Belief System: (ECBS) This is actually evolving in only some people. Many have stopped processing new data and thus have remained with the same conscious belief system for many years and will leave their bodies with it.

This is our conscious system which, as it processes new data, reevaluates its perceptions of reality seeking to make the adjustments necessary in order to understand the truths behind the phenomena we observe.

This system understands that we are safe, secure, good, worthy and capable. It also realizes that we are not in danger from heights, cars, insects, dogs, cats, elevators, airplanes etc.
The facts available to it cause it to realize that its fears are unfounded.

Yet we continue to experience fear and its resulting emotions, because of our previous two categories of beliefs, (Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions) which are isolated from and usually stronger than our Evolving Conscious Belief System.

b. Spiritual Intuitive Faith (SIF) constructs our fourth category of beliefs. These beliefs are usually based on faith rather than proof. We feel that what we believe it true. In addition to being affected by others? spiritual beliefs, we also experience inner awakenings or revelations in which we just "know" that something is true.

The last two conscious categories of beliefs are usually weak when confronted with the specific stimuli, which awaken our first two repressed categories. We may have total faith in our immortality or in God?s wisdom and justice, but the power of these first two categories shadow this faith temporarily.

Herein lies the answer as why we do not see that beliefs are the cause of our emotional reality, when we heal with TFT.
We have simultaneous multiple beliefs which are working at different levels. We are addressing the energy fields, which have to do with the two suppressed beliefs and not the person?s conscious or spiritual belief system.

Statistics and Inertia verses Charge

Many beliefs are created by emotional charge rather than by statistics and thus have a high emotional charge but low inertia.

If we drive a car every day for 30 years and then have an accident one day, that one accident can affect the mind more than the other 10,950 days we have driven. Thus we are more affected by the emotional charge of one experience than by the weight of the evidence of having driven 10.950 days without any danger.

If we have 30 years of a loving relationship with someone and then one day he or she leaves us for another, our 10,950 days of loving relationship is overshadowed by the emotional charge of the betrayal we feel because of the one experience. Rather than feel grateful for all those loving moments, we feel hurt and angry for the one.

Such beliefs are actually of the category of Emotionally Charged Impressions. While highly charged have little inertia and can be easily healed by TFT. This is important.

Other types of beliefs which have higher inertia (will explain) are not easily dissipated by TFT such as self-esteem, religious beliefs, political beliefs or our Evolving Conscious Belief System.

Belief Inertia

Each belief has a specific inertia towards change, which has to do with:
a. How many different kinds of experiences have contributed to its creation. (If we have only one experience which is repeated then it does not create as much inertia as having different stimuli creating that belief.)
b. How much thought has gone into its creation.
c. The degree to which it is linked to other beliefs - creating a web of beliefs.
d. How much we depend on this belief for our sense of security, self worth or freedom.
e. How much psychological reversal we have in relation to this belief (such as being in the role of the victim or guilty one.)

In general, most phobias are not the product of processing various experiences and coming to a conclusion and thus have lower inertia and can be easily collapsed by TFT.

Our experience is that fear, guilt, pain and all other emotions too can be easily dissolved by the tapping on the energy field in this way.

However, general anxiety, depression, self-esteem and many other issues often need more work on the various aspects which make up this more complex and inter-linked system of beliefs in which our anger, for example, is connected also to fear, pain, guilt, anger towards ourselves, etc.

All emotions, however, can be dealt with extremely effectively as long as we are adept and dealing with their complexity.

Thus, it is not the intensity (panic - rage) which obstruct immediate results with TFT but rather the complexity of the issue and how many different beliefs and emotions are involved. In other words, it is not the intensity of the belief, but the its inertia which slows down the healing.

Thus, when we are experiencing or thinking of any stimulus, we are perceiving it through a series of at least four filters, each presenting its own interpretation of what is happening and how that relates to our basic needs of safety, self-worth, freedom and pleasure. If any one of those filters is creating a stronger charge, then although we (usually) are aware of how the other filters are interpreting this stimulus, our emotional reactions will usually be the result of that most strongly charged interpretation.

By reducing the charge associated with the Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Experiences, and strengthening our Evolving Conscious Belief System and Spiritual Intuitive Faith, we become free from irrational emotional suffering.

TFT, Self Knowledge and Belief Transformation

17. This is why when we collapse, subsume (Callahan) or harmonize the disturbed energy field, not only do we get freedom from the physical or emotional disturbance but also a new perception of that stimulus and reality. We are awakened to a more rational and objective interpretation, which was always there (as a parallel belief) but could not be experienced because of the static created by the energy disturbance of emotionally charged memory usually in the subconscious.

As a result with TFT we have a positively changed belief system without even discussing beliefs, because our logic and wisdom were allowed to surface with the removal of the obstructing energy field, through tapping.

18. This is also why in many cases during the employment of TFT or EFT, the memory of the original event itself is accessed - without actually seeking it. It comes to the person?s mind and is discharged and thus set free. This is made possible even though it has not accessed throughout years of psychoanalysis, because, now with the collapse of the energy field, there is no longer a need to repress in order to avoid pain. The pain is removed.

Where the Techniques make Their Intervention

Let us now look at the how the various psychological methods make their interventions.

a. Psychoanalysis works basically by seeking to uncover the Mistaken Childhood Conclusions and other possibly irrational beliefs and allow us to reevaluate them in the light of our Evolving Conscious Belief system, thus creating greater objectivity and a belief system more aligned with "reality".

b. Cognitive Psychology does the same, but then encourages us to investigate alternative perceptions of reality. In some the counselor might suggest new perceptions which we might not find within. There is greater intervention than with psychoanalysis.

c. Behavioral Therapy seeks to bring new experience and thus new conclusions to the Evolving Conscious Belief System. This will work as long as the repressed Emotionally Charge Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions are not highly charged concerning the specific stimulus.

d. Healing the Inner Child seeks to bring to the surface not only the Mistake Childhood Conclusions but also the emotions associated with them so that they can be discharged and healed. In some cases we are asked to reinterpret the event while in experiential contact with it. Here we might use regression techniques or rebirthing for more experiential contact.
e. Catharsis Techniques bring us in contact with repressed emotions (results of Emotionally Charged Impressions or Mistaken Childhood Conclusions) either by coming into contact with old traumatic memories or by accessing them through an awareness of the energy body and emotions stored in the body (Body Centered Psychology - Hendricks).
These emotions and their energy fields are released through various forms of catharsis such as yawning, crying, shouting, beating a pillow and various movements.
Such methods seek to release the emotional charge associated with the first two types of beliefs and then replaced them through reevaluation, affirmations and faith.

f. EMDR accomplishes all of the above by this ingenious technique designed by Francine Shapiro, which allows us with the movements of the eyes to more easily access (and release - if necessary) the emotional charge associated with a traumatic experience.
Then again, with the movement of the eyes, we install the new positive belief, which we chose. There may or may not be catharsis involved. It works at the level of the Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions and then seeks to replace them (through eye movements) with the Evolving Conscious Belief System and / or Spiritual Intuitive Faith.

All of the above are obviously effective and have helped millions of people.

However except for EMDR, they are much more time consuming (even EMDR is more time consuming than TFT) and often are not able to completely remove the disturbances from the energy field and thus achieve the total therapy that can be accomplished with TFT.

g. TFT and EFT - accomplish all of the above by tapping on the thought-energy-field associated with the stimulus and belief, thus collapsing it so that we can think of or be in the presence of the previously disturbing stimulus and have no emotional disturbance.

The removal of this disturbance in the energy field often allows us access to the original events, which have created it. This might at times bring about a small catharsis but often does not.

It almost always leads to new more objective and enlightened perceptions of reality.

It works mainly on the Emotionally Charged Impressions (which have great intensity - but little inertia) and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions by removing their corresponding disturbances to the energy fields.

The up-flow of more conscious objective beliefs and Spiritual Intuitive Faith happens naturally without effort.

It is important also that these forms of "energy psychology", as they are now called, can and have been combined and enhanced with any number of the modalities mentioned above and also affirmations, psychodrama, rebirthing, gestalt dialoguing, journaling, meditation, prayer and contemplation.

In conclusion, I find all of these psychological approaches useful for removing the repressed Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions and eventually replacing them with the Evolving Conscious Belief System and Spiritual Intuitive Faith.

May you be well.

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From the forthcoming book by Robert Elias Najemy EFT for Self-knowledge and Total Freedom.

Robert Elias Najemy is the author of over 600 articles, 400 lecture cassettes on Human Harmony and 20 books, which have sold over 100,000 copies.
He is the Founder and director of the Center for Harmonious Living in Greece with 3700 members.
His book The Psychology of Happiness is available at and
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