Thought field therapy

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Front cover of the book Stop the Nightmares of Trauma: The Power Therapy for the 21st Century
Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Clinically unproven

Thought Field Therapy, also known as TFT, Callahan Techniques, and The Power Therapy for the 21st Century,[1] is a psychological treatment loosely based on acupuncture, acupressure, and traditional Chinese medicine. It was developed in the 1980s by American psychotherapist Roger Callahan (1925–2013),[2] and proponents claim that it can heal a wide variety of both mental and physical ailments by finger tapping on specific meridian points of the human body. To date, there is no scientific evidence that TFT is effective, and the American Psychological Association has stated that it "lacks a scientific basis."[3]


According to TFT (and against most other forms of credited psychotherapeutic intervention), negative emotions and mental disorders are not rooted in a person’s thinking or in the structure and functioning of the brain. Rather, they are created by disturbances in a person’s “thought field”, a concept loosely defined as a representation of the totality of one’s notions and experiences. Disturbances occur when a person focuses on the negative experiences in their thought field triggering neurological, chemical, hormonal, and cognitive changes which lead to an imbalance in the body’s energy system. This, in turn, leads to the development of a number of mental and physical disorders, including addiction, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, cancer, and heart disease.[4]

TFT postulates that each of the aforementioned disturbances corresponds to a meridian point somewhere on the body. If these meridian points are tapped with a finger in a precise sequence, the body’s flow of qi will be balanced and the disturbances will stop. Proponents of TFT claim that unlike conventional psychiatric and psychological approaches to treatment, thought field therapy is quick and effective because it addresses problems energetically on the quantum level.[5] TFT's ability to work on a level too small to be directly observed is presumably the reason that research and clinical trials have failed to demonstrate if or how it works.

Voice Technology[edit]

Purported as the most advanced level of thought field therapy; voice technology, or TFT-VT, is the practice of diagnosing the disturbances in a person’s thought field by listening to their voice over the phone. A TFT-VT practitioner will use this information to let the caller know which energy meridians they should tap with their fingers to correct the disturbances. Voice technology training costs $100,000, and participants must sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent the “trade secret” behind TFT-VT from being revealed.


According to Callahan’s website, research conducted at Oxford University demonstrated that anxiety caused by the anticipation of experiencing pain makes a person’s perceived level of pain worse. Because TFT reduces anticipatory anxiety, the pain associated with it is also reduced. In words that sound less like mumbo-jumbo, people undergoing TFT usually feel calmer and more relaxed as they believe their problems are being addressed by the therapy, thus they are more likely to feel better whether the therapy works or not. This adds up to little more than the placebo effect, but it did give Callahan the chance to use the words "research" and "Oxford University" on his website for those who would give it no more than a cursory glance.

In reality, no studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of TFT. Most clinical psychologists and psychiatrists express alarm that TFT, though unvalidated, is accepted and utilized by some members of both the public and the mental health profession at large.[6] Use of TFT poses the same concern as the use of most other types of alternative medicine: the inherent risk that a person will forego legitimate medical or psychological treatment and suffer further damage as a result. Thought field therapy is particularly appealing to people who are suffering from long-term psychological and physical ailments as it promises a quick fix, whereas most recognized and studied treatment methods require far more time and effort on the part of both practitioner and patient in order to be effective.

See also[edit]

  • Emotional Freedom Technique: a derivative of thought field therapy and its somewhat bastardized cousin. There are differences between the two approaches, the main being that the finger tapping utilized in EMT does not have to follow a specific sequence.
  • Subtle energy

External Links[edit]


  1. Stop the Nightmares of Trauma: Thought Field Therapy, the Power Therapy for the 21st Century by Roger J. Callahan & Joanne Callahan (2000) Parenting Press. ISBN 1570875057.
  2. Roger Callahan Obituary (Nov. 15, 2013) The Desert Sun via Legacy.
  3. Unorthodox Therapy in New Orleans Raises Concern by Alix Spiegel (March 29, 200612:38 PM ET) NPR.
  4. About Thought Field Therapy | Meridian Energy Tapping | Tapping Therapy
  5. Thought Field Therapy: A Revolutionary Form of Psychotherapy on an Energetic Level (archived from 7 Jul 2013 14:07:50 UTC).
  6. SRMHP: Why should we be concerned about the widening gap between mental health science and practice? by Scott O. Lilienfeld (Spring-Summer 2002) The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 1(1).