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History of Thought Field Therapy

Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is the result of a progressive clinical psychologist's search for greater efficiency in the provision of effective assistance to people whose lives are interfered with by the experience of psychological distress and disturbed emotional and behavioural states.

The founder of TFT, Dr Roger Callahan was one of the first psychologists to throw himself into the previous movement which resulted in a significant leap in psychotherapy effectiveness. That movement was pioneered by Dr. Albert Ellis, whose dissatisfaction with the relative inefficiency of classical psychoanalysis, the dominant paradigm for dealing with emotional disturbance up until the 1950's. Dr Ellis is known for stating that he has “a gene for efficiency.” He revolutionised psychotherapy practice when he introduced an emphasis on the importance of thinking processes and philosophical orientation in the change process.

This new approach also involved an active-directive approach by the therapist and the behavioural involvement of the client. Dr Ellis's approach, originated in 1955, is now known as rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT). REBT is the original form of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which was subsequently elaborated by Dr Aaron T Beck and others.

Dr Roger Callahan became a close associate of Albert Ellis in the late 1950's and was asked by Dr Ellis to read and comment on the manuscript of the first text book in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) - Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy - published by Albert Ellis in 1962.

Although Roger Callahan saw REBT as being an important step towards his dream to find the "penicillin of psychotherapy", he still was not satisfied that he had arrived there. He remained ever vigilant for anything that could possibly point the way toward this dream becoming actualised. His search led him to a discovery by Dr George Goodheart, a chiropractor, known as kinesiology. Goodheart found in 1964 that the muscles of the body differentially responded to pressure being applied against resistance in accordance with internal mental and physical states. This discovery has been suggested to represent a true "mind-body indicator".

Dr Callahan undertook a one hundred hour training course in kinesiology in a class mainly comprised of chiropractors. It was here that Callahan noticed that many chiropractors had developed various techniques involving tapping on the spine in accordance with the ancient Chinese healing tradition involving energy meridian systems.

Intrigued by this Dr Callahan wondered whether the energy meridian system (that appears to have been discovered by the Chinese at least 5000 years ago) may hold some correspondence with the disturbed emotional states that Callahan wanted to better understand.

Accordingly, Dr Callahan started investigating these possibilities through the application of a rigorous scientific attitude. He worked on various hunches and hypotheses informed by the ancient Chinese knowledge of the energy meridian system, tried out a number of procedures, made observations, and adjusted his hypotheses according to his observations. In this way he has developed a system of psychotherapy practice that while initially only having a 3% success rate in the early 1980s, now delivers successful interventions at a rate of around 75% and 80%.

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