The principles behind the practice we now know as EFT were discovered by Dr Roger Callahan, a clinical psychologist of over 40 years standing, whose life’s work centred around helping people to overcome phobias, fears and anxieties.
Dr Callahan was treating a client named Mary who suffered from a severe lifelong phobia of water; even bathing was traumatic for this lady as a couple of inches of water in the bath was enough to set off her fear. He had been working with Mary for 18 months, and had tried everything that standard psychology had to offer, including hypnosis, to no avail. During one session they were seated outside looking towards his swimming pool, and Mary stated that even the sight of the pool made her feel physically nauseous. At that time he had been studying the Meridian System of Chinese medicine, and as an experiment he asked her to tap a point under her eye as she was speaking about the fear and the nausea, because he knew that the meridian which ran through the stomach ended at that point. The result was startling: after tapping on the point for a couple of minutes Mary’s fear of water disappeared completely – her whole phobia had collapsed. It has never returned, over 20 years later.
Dr Callahan called his discovery TFT – or Thought Field Therapy, on the grounds that thoughts related to the body’s energy field (meridian system), and that changing the energy field by tapping on the meridian points could release negative emotions quickly and easily.
TFT (and EFT) rests on a theory he called “The Discovery Statement” – which states that:
THE CAUSE OF ALL NEGATIVE EMOTIONS IS A DISRUPTION IN THE BODY’S ENERGY SYSTEM.
It was traditionally held to be true in psychotherapy that a negative emotion was caused by a negative or traumatic memory or event; and that every time this memory was accessed as a result of a thought or environmental trigger, the negative emotion was re-experienced in a simple cause and effect relationship. Dr Callahan discovered that there was an intermediate step between the memory/thought and the negative emotion, and this was a disruption in the smooth flowing of the energy through the meridian system.
A THOUGHT OR MEMORY
↓ triggers ↓
A DISRUPTION IN THE BODY’S ENERGY SYSTEM
↓ which is experienced as ↓
PSYCHOLOGICAL OR PHYSICAL PAIN
So rather than trying to undo the thought or memory, TFT intervenes only in the intermediate step – it works on the disruption in the energy system and once this has been calmed and relieved, the person experiences no further pain or negative emotions from the original memory or thought.
Dr Callahan refined and researched his method, which was based on what is called algorithms – specific sequences of tapping points based on 13 meridian points, to relieve specific problems. Muscle testing was used to determine specific algorithms and points to be treated.
He began teaching TFT to students, and one of the first people he taught was Gary Craig, an engineer trained at Stanford University. Based on the engineering principle known as “total redundancy”, Gary Craig had the idea to just tap all the points for every presenting problem – as there were only 13 points being used, whichever point or points were the correct ones they would always be covered by default. He thereby created a technique that EVERYONE can learn to use very easily and quickly; he called his streamlined version “EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique”.
The technique that we use today is a shortcut version of the original EFT.