I read in a newspaper or journal of some new psychotherapy
that's come on the market, I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln's
oft quoted words "You may fool all the people some of
the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the
Take for instance,
Thought Field Therapy, popularly referred to as TFT. In the
mid 1990s, it began to be promoted as a treatment that could
revolutionize psychotherapy. Psychologist Charles R. Figley,
professor at Florida State University, claims it is extraordinarily
powerful and efficient, producing nearly immediate and permanent
relief from suffering without clients having to talk about
While some of the
procedures, as Figley points out, "can be taught to nearly
anyone so that they can not only treat themselves, but treat
others affected," more advanced procedures are restricted
to "trained" professionals and protected under copyright.
A confidentiality agreement must be signed and anyone violating
it could face a sizeable financial penalty.
What I can safely
tell you is that TFT practitioners are trained at up to three
levels. The first involves learning a set of places on the
body where a patient is instructed to tap to cure specific
This is how it
goes and, since Prof. Figley assures people that the procedure
is harmless, you may want to give it a try.
Think of a distressing
event and "work up as much discomfort as you can"
(though one is cautioned not to spend more than a few moments
at this). Then rate your level of discomfort from one to 10,
with 10 being the highest and one being the lowest.
Now, tap yourself
with two fingers five times (but not so hard, they warn, as
to cause a bruise) just above the bridge of your nose, approximately
where either eyebrow begins. Next, tap yourself five times
under either eye. Then tap yourself five times just below
Now take a deep
breath and measure your anxiety again. If you're not at least
two numbers below where you started on your scale of one to
10, gently "karate chop" (Figley's words, not mine)
one hand with the other while reciting the following mantra
"I accept myself, even though I still have this kind
Now, spend a while
tapping the back of your hand with your eyes open, then closed,
then while looking in each direction, while rolling your eyes,
while humming a tune (any tune will apparently do), while
counting to five.
this procedure alone can effect amazing cures, TFT practitioners
are trained, for a fee of course, at two advanced levels .The
second, called the diagnostic level, supposedly uses "muscle
testing" to diagnose the origin of a patient's symptoms
and to map a tailored set of points to be tapped by the patient.
The third level uses "voice technology," in which
a therapeutic appliance is used to listen to the patient's
voice over the phone while the therapist and patient discuss
The operator of
the machine then proclaims the specific points to be tapped
in order to treat the patient's symptoms.
Some TFT practitioners,
including Figley, claim a 95-per-cent success or cure rate.
Others consider it to be an unproven alternative therapy promoted
with misleading claims. In June, the Arizona Board of Psychologist
Examiners sanctioned a psychologist for excessive use of Thought
Field Therapy and declared that "TFT, as presented by
this psychologist, was not the practice of psychology by current
standards of practice." The psychologist can still do
TFT but must keep it separate from his psychology practice,
thus blocking him from billing insurance companies.
No other psychologist
in the U.S. or anywhere in Canada has, to my knowledge, been
told to stop practising TFT or promoting it as a legitimate
In Ontario, the
College of Veterinarians requires that before an unproven
procedure is tried, owners of animals sign a consent for non-conventional
treatment. In it they indicate that the technique lacks scientific
validation and that the veterinarian has described "any
existing conventional care."
Does such a requirement
exist for psychologists and psychotherapists? Of course not!
While it might be suggested that psychologists and their patients
will be smart enough to question flaky theories such as TFT,
many therapists are buying them and banking that their clients
will too. Psychologists, it seems, can as readily be fooled
by exaggerated claims as can their patients.
said that "the greatness of a nation can be judged by
the way its animals are treated." Maybe he was right;
we seem to expect more from our "vets" than from
Perhaps the boards
that license psychologists need some sense knocked (excuse
me, tapped) into their heads.