Articles & Workshops

Releasing Negative Emotions with TFT and EFT

by Margery Silverton, LCSW-C
Certified Imago Relationship Therapist

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TFT stands for Thought Field Therapy, an approach to healing emotional pain developed by psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan over the course of his thirty year career. Initially dismissed as too unbelievable, Callahan’s approach has gained increasing credence as a powerful, effective, and short term treatment for phobias, anxiety, traumatic stress, depression, guilt, anger, obsessive thinking, and addictive urges.


Callahan, a student himself of applied kinesiology, integrated cognitive therapy approaches with his understanding of kinesiology to derive at a theory and treatment technology that is decidedly different from most psychotherapy approaches. He proposed that the fundamental cause of emotional pain is information held in the form of energy and consists of what he called a “perturbation in the thought field.”


That is, all thoughts are, at their most basic and fundamental level, a level of consciousness in the form of energy patterns. When there is a disruption in the energy patterns, we experience that as emotional distress. Different perturbations generate different negative emotions. When the perturbations are removed, a natural state of peaceful flow returns.


TFT addresses these disruptions by addressing the little explored bio-energy system directly. The client “attunes to” the emotional disturbance while physically tapping on specific acupuncture meridian points. The therapist often follows a diagnostic process involving a muscle testing procedure to discern a specific sequence of meridian points needed in order to achieve therapeutic results.


As Callahan states: “when Nature’s code is broken, understood, and addressed properly, negative emotions can be eliminated with surprising alacrity. It is now usually possible to eliminate these negative emotions at their fundamental source in a matter of minutes.”


Explaining EFT

EFT is an outgrowth of Thought Field Therapy, developed by Gary Craig in the early 1990s. The initials stand for Emotional Freedom Technique. Craig, an electrical engineer by training, was intrigued by Dr. Callahan’s work, trained extensively with him and immediately understood the body’s bio-energy system as a flow of electrical currents within the body. He grasped this concept more readily than many psychotherapists who were slower to appreciate the effectiveness of TFT. Whereas Dr. Callahan developed different tapping sequences based on different diagnostic readings from muscle testing, Gary Craig developed a more standardized sequence which worked with most people most of the time, and was therefore much easier to teach and to learn (and much cheaper too!)


The theory behind EFT and other energy techniques, which have subsequently emerged, is that all negative emotions are blocked in the body’s energy system. The process involves 1) attuning to the upsetting issue, 2) rating the level of upset on a 1-10 scale, 3) removing any energy reversals by tapping on the side of the hand and repeating an affirmation of self-acceptance, 4) tapping on a specific sequence of points, 5) re-rating the level of upset. This constitutes an EFT “round”. In most cases, more than one round may be needed to clear the distress because most upsets are actually a group of issues called “aspects”. Each aspect needs to be cleared to get to complete resolution.


All this takes about twenty minutes, and can be repeated at home as needed.


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