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Can We Really Tap Our Problems Away?
A Critical Analysis of Thought Field Therapy
[Read the full text article]

Brandon Gaudiano and James Herbert, Ph.D.
Skeptical Inquirer (2000), 24(4), 29-33, 36

Read Callahan's reply to the article and our rejoinder
in the Nov/Dec issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

Press Release
Kevin Christopher
Skeptical Inquirer

 Two Philadelphia Psychologists Challenge Thought Field Therapy

 AMHERST, NY (June 15, 2000)- Two Philadelphia psychologists challenge the
claims of Thought Field Therapy (TFT)-an alternative psychotherapy with a
growing number of adherents and spin-off techniques. James Herbert, associate
professor of psychology and Brandon Gaudiano, doctoral candidate for clinical
psychology, both from MCP Hahnemann University, question TFT's effectiveness
and criticize the therapy's science. Their article appears in the new
July/August issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

 Thought Field Therapy is a psychotherapy treatment developed and promoted by
Dr. Roger Callahan over the past 20 years. Practitioners tap various parts of
the body in particular sequences, called "algorithms," in order to correct
unbalanced energies, known in TFT as "thought fields." The idea is that
perturbations in these thought fields are the cause of psychological
disturbances. Spin-off alternative therapies include Gary Craig's Emotional
Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Callahan's trademarked-and zealously
guarded-Voice Technology techniques.

 Gaudiano and Herbert note that TFT is not a coherent scientific theory, but
rather a "hodgepodge" of concepts. Thought fields and points tapped on the
body are modeled on the Chinese concepts of qi and acupuncture meridians. TFT
combines these concepts with the terminology of psychology and physicist's
David Bohm's theory of active information to explain how small
"perturbations" can affect thought fields.

 The authors also question why there have been no controlled studies of TFT,
despite the miraculous claimed rates of effectiveness (up to 97 percent). The
studies that have been conducted are seriously flawed. Two Florida State
researchers, J.L. Carbonell and Charles Figley conducted a study which they
later posted on their Web site, but this study lacks placebos or controls, so
there is no way the Florida State researchers could determine whether patient
improvements correlate to the TFT therapy.

 In fact, EFT guru Gary Craig maintains that a control placebo "algorithm"
may be impossible because tapping anywhere on the body would affect the
body's "energy meridians." According to Gaudiano and Herbert, "This position
conveniently renders Craig's theory unfalsifiable and therefore outside the
realm of science." Callahan has also ruled out the possibility of placebo

 Gaudiano and Herbert note that "no research has ruled out factors that are
common-to greater or lesser degrees-in all psychotherapies. These include
placebo effects resulting from the mere expectation of improvement, therapist
enthusiasm and support, therapist-client alliance, and effort justification
(i.e., the tendency to report positive changes in order to justify the effort
exerted…)." Until controlled clinical trials are made, these psychotherapy
techniques cannot be taken seriously by the scientific community.

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