Heading: Thought Field Therapy.
Subheading: Tapping the healer within.
Do our thoughts have an energy field? Are we beginning to see the emergence of a new type of medicine based on the treatment and understanding of subtle energy fields? Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is one of these new therapeutic tools that may seem like magic from the outside, but is firmly based on the premise of our thoughts having an energy field.
It is interesting to stop and consider our own thinking processes. Especially those thoughts we run through our conscious mind again and again. Usually when we are very concerned about something and we begin to obsess about it. Is there an energy field around these obsessive thoughts? How are these thoughts affecting our physiology?
Is our autonomic nervous system reacting to how these thoughts are making us feel?
Perhaps even before we have registered that we are having an emotional reaction to these thoughts.
In the instance of trauma or severe anxiety, it is understood that these negative thoughts are encoded or embedded in our subconscious mind and can subsequently produce a range of physical reactions without first registering in the conscious mind. These so called diseases of the mind, psycho-symptomatic phobias, post traumatic stress and the like, have been and still are difficult conditions for our doctors and psychologists to successfully treat. As there has been no pharmacological answer to the debilitating experience of severe anxiety, except drugging the person into a state of apathy, the onus has fallen upon the “talk therapy” of our psychologists.
One of these psychologists was Dr Roger Callaghan, the founder of Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and the author of Tapping the Healer Within, the definitive TFT self-help book. Dr Callaghan who trained and practised as a clinical psychologist in the USA, and was associate professor of psychology at the University of East Michigan, was professionally frustrated at his own, and his colleagues, lack of success in treating these types of illnesses with cognitive based “talk therapies”. “Whether we were treating them for depression, phobias, or a shattered relationship, too many clients seem entrapped in years of expensive psychotherapy, talking endlessly about their life circumstances. They’d painfully relive their trauma. They’d often blame something or someone in their past for their current troubles. But at the end of the day- or the year- they had nothing to show for it,” he states in his book.
This led him to explore therapeutic approaches outside the mainstream. This quest would eventually open his mind, almost accidentally, to the consideration of Chinese medicine and its theory of energy meridians running through the human body. Whilst seeing a long term patient, who had a severe water phobia, Dr Callaghan chanced upon the idea, almost out of desperation, of using the acupressure points on the body to treat the symptoms of the phobia. The patient had said, “I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Every time I look at or think of water I feel it right here in my stomach.” Although not formally trained in acupuncture, Dr Callaghan knew that that position directly under the eye was the location of the concluding point of the stomach meridian. Instructing the client to tap with two fingers on that particular spot and to think about her fear of water he was amazed when she reported back a few minutes later that the sick feeling in her stomach was gone. Further more the client was positive that she was no longer afraid of water.
Although skeptical at the time, Dr Callaghan continued refining this technique through research and trial and error. He was hopeful that the stunning result that he had achieved with this one patient would be reproduced with all his patients, he was to be disappointed. However, as this was the most powerful healing experience he had had in thirty years of practising he persevered with his research into what would become TFT. He discovered that with certain clients a whole series of meridian points would need to be tapped and not just anyhow but in specific sequences. The value of this was that many more clients with a variety of psychological ailments beyond just phobias were helped and a system of tapping “algorithms” was developed.
These “algorithms” or specialised sequences of tapping on various pressure points on the body are used in conjunction with the initial focus on the thought that contains the fear, anger or negative emotion. It is paramount to the effectiveness of TFT that the person experiencing the therapy holds that thought in their consciousness. Thus the thought field is activated and the therapy can do its work. Apart from the tapping there is also a series of exercises involving the opening and closing of the eyes and the pointing of them in various directions.
These eye movements are common to a variety of therapeutic techniques and Dr Callaghan explains that the eyes are an extension of the brain. “I believe that each eye movement may access a different area of the brain. Some research shows, for example that when the eyes are open, the back of the brain receives relatively greater stimulation; when they are closed, the front of the brain is more stimulated.” In addition he states, “the humming and counting processes are designed to activate the right and left brain, respectively. Theoretically, the right side of the brain is being receptive to treatment by the humming and tapping, and the left side of the brain by the counting and tapping.”
If you are like me when you first begin these exercises you may feel a little like an uncoordinated child on your first day at ballet classes, trying to rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time. With a little clear instruction and practice you soon get the hang of it though, and even when I fell on the floor laughing I noticed how much better I was feeling already.
Dr Callaghan’s study of several other fields has also contributed to the evolution of TFT. His look into physics has given him a language and a scientific structure to explain the effectiveness of TFT. Starting with Einstein’s basic postulation that everything is energy (E = mc2) then thought is an energy. This energy has a field like a magnetic or gravitational field; you cannot see them but they exist. Dr Callaghan in his book employs a dictionary definition for a field as thus: “a complex of forces that serve as causative agents in human behaviour.” He goes on to say, ” The thought field is the most fundamental concept in TFT. This intangible structure or scaffolding can contain large amounts of information, but in treating psychological distress, we’ll concentrate on the negative emotions you are experiencing. When you are terrified of snakes, devastated by a marital breakup, or depressed over the loss of a job, the cause of this disturbance is contained in the thought field.” Dr Callaghan then uses the term “perturbation” to describe this disturbance in the thought field – this is a unique entity according to him that contains “active information” (a quantum physics concept) of a highly specified sort that can be isolated within the thought field. He states, “the psychological upset is due not to a trauma or the loss of a love, for example. These experiences give rise to the perturbation, but it is the perturbation itself that is responsible for generating, guiding, and controlling all of the fundamental changes within the body.”
One of the most interesting pieces of scientific evidence produced in Dr Callaghan’s book to support the health benefits of TFT is its effect on Heart Rate Variability or HRV. HRV, which is the quantified variation in the intervals between heartbeats, has been used in cardiological research (for the last 30 years) as an indicator into the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. A low variation in heart beats per minute is seen as a depressed HRV and can be a warning about the health of the patient’s heart. Whereas the higher variability in pulse rates per minute is a sign of better overall health. Dr Callaghan has been assessing the physiological health of his patient’s bodies through HRV, before and after TFT sessions. He states, “although you probably aren’t conscious of it, your heart functions with subtle variations between beats. In fact HRV appears to be the most accurate tool we have for monitoring the autonomic nervous system or ANS, which is the internal system that controls heartbeat, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, blood chemistry, tissue repair, metabolism, immune function, and other processes considered involuntary and beyond conscious control. Clearly, the more optimally your ANS is functioning, the healthier you are likely to be.”
The dramatic results that TFT has achieved with patients, some of whom were seriously ill with heart conditions, in raising their HRV has shown Dr Callaghan that the psychological healing is also producing measurable physiological changes. He states, “I often use HRV to evaluate TFT whether I’m trying to heal a patient’s anger, grief, anxiety, or phobia, or relieve his or her physical problems such as migraine pain or allergies. HRV is an adjunct to TFT that objectively demonstrates and quantifies the effectiveness of this breakthrough therapeutic technique.”
Dr Callaghan goes on to quote further HRV/TFT testing that has been done by Dr Fuller Royal, medical director of the Nevada Clinic. “Heart Rate Variability is the only test known that will not respond to the placebo effect,” he said. “You can’t fool the autonomic nervous system.” He added, “TFT has been for me a nice piece of the puzzle that has been missing on how to enter, and correct rapidly, defects in the autonomic nervous system.”
The broadening research into HRV as a clear indicator of our state of health, and in many studies as the strongest predictor of mortality is widely covered in Dr Callaghan’s book. He also puts forward research that states, “making changes – particularly rapid changes – in HRV readings is virtually impossible. Two studies (one of humans, the other an animal study) found that exercise was the only common way to get those HRV scores to budge in a positive way, but even then it would take eight weeks or more of intense physical activity to produce improvements.” This puts TFT’s remarkable effect on HRV into context.
Personally, I find that TFT seems to be a whole body therapy that listens not just to our chattering mind but is a further revelation in the understanding of the holistic paradigm. It is another step forward in removing our focus away from just what lies between our ears. We hear the words, that we are an interconnected system within an even larger interconnected system, but perhaps now we are beginning to see the proof of that through our healing experiences.
I did have some preconceived doubts and negativity in regard to how quickly TFT works in many of the cases reported. I suppose I share a common attitude about therapy and spirituality that we need to suffer to truly understand, before we are relieved of our burdens. For those who have carried these debilitating conditions, it is often like a miracle when they are set free from them. We as human beings are, I think, examples of the most incredible life forms, and the growing awareness of energy medicine is very exciting. TFT is part of that continuing enlightenment.
Now with more than twenty years’ research into TFT, Dr Callaghan, and a substantial number of therapists all over the world are achieving unparalleled success in the treatment of phobias, anxieties and psychological disorders. The work has evolved and been refined even further with the next generation “Voice Technology.” In Australia, Eugene Piccinotti has established a TFT centre here, and offers workshops all over the country. Eugene trained with Dr Callaghan in the USA, and personally overcame huge obstacles through TFT. Like many before him, he tried numerous variations of “talk therapy” without success. Eugene has now facilitated hundreds of people into energy shifting TFT releases, and continues to be inspired by the work.
Appeared in WellBeing Magazine.