Thought Field Therapy & Emotional Freedom Techniques
Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Psychology,
Healing the Inner Child, Catharsis and EMDR
I am writing this more for myself than for anyone else as I seek to develop a basic model which will formulate a unified understanding of how the above mentioned various psychological disciplines work. I have found them all useful and have employed them on myself in addition to sharing them with around 150,000 others through lectures, seminars, books and cassettes throughout the last 35 years.
The Apparent Conflict
TFT (Thought Field Therapy by Dr. Roger Callahan) and its offshoots such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques by Callahan?s student Gary Craig) seem to “apparently” conflict with the premises of Cognitive Therapy concerning whether our emotions are caused by our beliefs or a disturbed energy field created when we think of the stimulus. The word “apparently” is in quotation marks because what is apparent is often not true.
We have a similar “apparent” conflict with cathartic psychological approaches, which heal by bringing hidden pain, anger or guilt to the surface so that it can be released through some form of catharsis. After its release, we can install a new alternative, more objective and positive perception of ourselves and reality.
Without catharsis, psychotherapy or cognitive therapy can be like trying to record new music or information (beliefs) on a prerecorded cassette, which we have not yet erased. We will hear two recordings – two simultaneous belief systems – subconscious and conscious.
No matter how much we strengthen our affirmations or new positive beliefs, if the old ones are still there, they will overpower our new intellectually based perceptions. Intellectual conscious understanding and spiritual beliefs are usually weaker than automatic unconscious experience-based emotional reactions.
TFT and EFT, on the other hand, demonstrate daily that most often neither analysis nor catharsis is necessary in order to eliminate (not suppress) unwanted emotions.
New Discoveries Often Encompass Previous Conceptions
Science often evolves in ways so that new discoveries do not actually reject previous perceptions but often encompass them while describing greater realties, which include and also transcend our previous conceptions.
An example is that of Einstein?s law of relativity which does not negate Newton?s laws of motion but simply explains that for objects with sufficient mass (larger than atoms) moving considerably slower than the speed of light, Newton?s and Einstein?s laws give essentially the same results.
So now with Thought Field Therapy, in my opinion, we are moving on to an understanding which includes, validates and also transcends the hypotheses of:
1. Cognitive Therapy = emotions are created by beliefs – thoughts.
2. Catharsis based psychology = negatively charged emotional memories and their consequent beliefs need to be corrected (often, but not necessarily, released) and transformed in order to manifest a significant and lasting change.
Obviously these perceptions are at least relatively true. If we do not think about the disturbing issue, then we do not get the emotion. And, until now (pre-TFT), most cases would not heal if we did not experientially release the emotional charge associated with related traumatic experiences.
The Miracle of TFT
On the other hand, now we see that by simply tapping on certain acupuncture points while focusing on the disturbing thought-field and without making any attempt to change our beliefs, we are freed from long lasting extremely intense emotions such a phobias and the pain of the loss of loved ones.
As the freedom from the emotion takes place immediately, simply by tapping on certain acupuncture points, we are forced to conclude that, the energy field related to this emotion (which is affected by the tapping on these points) must be the direct or at least “intervening cause” of the emotional reaction.
I chose the word “intervening cause” here, because without the original thought, there would be no disturbance.
In some cases, without actually being consciously aware of the thought-field, we may experience a continual subconscious disturbance in the body?s energy field, which often leads to psychosomatic or even psychological illness.
A Unifying Theory
In order to explain my perception of these basic systems of psychotherapy I would like to make a number of hypotheses, which you are free to accept or reject. I welcome comments for and against my evolving perception of what is happening.
The basic premises presented here are not discussed and explained in full. If you are interested in a more detailed analysis you can contact me.
1. As human beings we are basically consciousness which is comprised of ever changing and interacting mental, emotional, energy and physical fields.
2. These fields are continuously interacting and affecting each other.
Thoughts are Energy Fields
3. Each thought itself is in reality an energy field, which when charged in a certain way becomes what we experience as an emotional field. This emotional field also affects our energy field, thought field and our physical body (psychosomatic illnesses).
4. Our beliefs create our thoughts, which are actually energy fields, which create our emotions.
5. Our thoughts are energy fields which, when charged with intensity, create an emotional reaction and resulting physical phenomena.
When the charge is removed, then the same thought has no emotional dimension.
This charge is a result of our beliefs, which creates our thoughts.
(We will return to this.)
6. Our consciousness, mind, energy and body are a continuum where any intervention or disturbance at any level will create a corresponding change on the other levels of this continuum.
Imagine a trough with water with various barriers made from mesh which separate the trough into compartments, but there is still a wave communication between them through the common medium of the water.
Wherever we make a disturbance, its effect is felt throughout all compartments in the trough. And, if at any point in this continuum of water we intervene with some type settling effect, this creates a peace in all the other compartments.
In the continuum of our being, we tend to think of the body, energy, thoughts and beliefs as separate, but in fact they are all “compartments” of consciousness. Any intervention on any level affects all the other levels.
7. We can change our thought-field by tapping on the acupuncture points, thus changing the energy flow and removing its charge and the thought-energy-field, which creates the emotional disturbance.
8. Thus, our emotions are the result of our thought-energy-fields, which are created by our beliefs, which in turn are a result of our multileveled belief system.
(We will come back to the concept of multileveled beliefs)
Our Thoughts are Charged
9. Our beliefs interpret each and every stimulus (external and mental) assigning a positive, negative or neutral charge to that stimulus depending on what our belief system tells us about what is happening or what we are thinking about.
10. This “charge” is then associated with that stimulus and when we think about it or confront it, we feel indifferent, secure, relaxed and happy or fear, pain, guilt or anger depending on our interpretation.
11. This then creates a corresponding energy field associated with that specific stimulus.
12. Our emotional reality depends on our beliefs about that stimulus (event, behavior, situation or thought) and the thought-energy-field created when we confront or think of the stimulus.
We have Multiple Beliefs about the Same Stimulus
13. We have multiple beliefs about the same stimulus.
TFT will say, ” this person does not believe that he is in danger, but his energy field makes him feel that way.” Or, “Why doesn?t his fear go away when he changes his conscious belief?”
Obviously this person has multiple parallel beliefs, creating multiple thought-fields concerning the same stimulus.
This is a major key. The thoughts we have about any stimulus are in fact energy fields concerning that issue, which create our resulting emotional reaction.
However, we have various thoughts and as a consequence, many thought and energy fields concering the same stimulus.
Multiple Parallel Beliefs
14. I would like to hypothesize some different categories of beliefs.
a. Emotionally Charged Impressions – (ECI) – These are not so much beliefs as “impressions”, which are imprinted on the mind during traumatic experiences. The mind then identifies this particular stimulus with this emotionally charged feeling, and when we think of it we feel fear or other emotions. We do not go through thinking processes here such as analyzing, evaluating and coming to conclusions. This kind of “belief” has a strong “emotional charge” but no actual inertia or mass, because it is not based on observations and facts, but rather on one or two intense experiences ? which of course are not representative of reality.
b. Mistaken Childhood Conclusions – (MCC) – These are usually mistaken beliefs about a reality in which we perceive ourselves as weak, wrong, unlovable and to blame for just about everything that happens around us such as our parents anger, absence, unhappiness, indifference, divorce, illness, death etc. We falsely interpret that we are not worthy or able and that others will always behave towards us in ways that we experienced in childhood.
These first two categories are usually repressed in the subconscious mind (shadow, inner child – whatever you prefer) because of the pain and confusion they produce. We suppress them so that we can focus and function in our daily lives. They are encased in an “energy membrane” much as our body envelopes a sliver or cut in our skin in order to prevent it from poisoning the rest of the body.
These “beliefs” are repressed so that we do not feel the unpleasant negative emotional-energy charge associated with them.
They do, of course, exist in the subconscious and produce their corresponding energy field every time we come into contact with or think of the specific stimulus. As already mentioned, they also create psychosomatic illnesses.
These “Beliefs” are Stagnant and do not Evolve as We Do
Because of their repression and subsequent isolation from our conscious mind, these “beliefs” do not evolve as we do. They remain in their original state regardless of our evolving logic, reasoning, new experiences and spiritual faith. They receive no new data.
The third category of beliefs is our:
c. Evolving Conscious Belief System: (ECBS)
This is our conscious system which, as it processes new data, reevaluates its perceptions of reality seeking to make the adjustments necessary in order to understand the truths behind the phenomena we observe.
This is actually evolving in only some people. Many have stopped processing new data and thus have remained with the same conscious belief system for many years and will leave their bodies with it.
For many, this belief system understands that we are safe, secure, good, worthy and capable. It also realizes that we are not in danger from heights, cars, insects, dogs, cats, elevators, airplanes etc.
The facts available to it cause it to realize that its fears are unfounded.
Yet we continue to experience fear and its resulting emotions due to our previous two categories of beliefs, (Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions) which are isolated from and usually stronger than our Evolving Conscious Belief System.
d. Spiritual Intuitive Faith (SIF) constructs our fourth category of beliefs. These beliefs are usually based on faith rather than proof. We feel that what we believe is true. In addition to being affected by others? spiritual beliefs, we also experience inner awakenings or revelations in which we just “know” that something is true.
The last two conscious categories of beliefs are usually weak when confronted with specific stimuli, which awaken our first two repressed categories. We may have total faith in our immortality or in God?s wisdom and justice, but when confronted with stimuli, which awaken our Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions, the power of these later two often temporarily overshadow our faith and logic.
Herein lies the answer as why we do not see that beliefs are the cause of our emotional reality, when we heal with TFT. We have simultaneous multiple beliefs, which are working at different levels. We are addressing the energy fields, which have to do with the two suppressed beliefs and not the person?s conscious or spiritual belief system.
Statistics and Inertia verses Charge
15. Many “beliefs” are created by emotional charge rather than by statistics and thus have a high emotional charge but low inertia.
Inertia is word, which describes the tendency of an object to stay in the state that it exists or its resistance to changing its state. Thus if it is stationary it resists movement. If moving it resists stopping.
The inertia of a belief is the measure of its resistance to change either because it is the product of many experiences and conclusions or deep faith or because we have an invested need to keep that belief for some reason.
An example of the difference between charge and inertia would be the following.
If we drive a car every day for 30 years and then have an accident one day, that one accident can affect the mind more than the other 10,950 days we have driven. Thus we are more affected by the emotional charge of one experience than by the weight of the evidence of having driven 10,950 days without any danger.
If we have 30 years of a loving relationship with someone and then one day he or she leaves us for another, our 10,950 days of loving relationship is overshadowed by the emotional charge of the betrayal we feel due to one experience. Rather than feeling grateful for all those loving moments, we feel hurt and angry about the one experience.
Such beliefs are actually of the category of Emotionally Charged Impressions. While highly charged they have little inertia (because they are based on only a few experiences) and can be easily healed by TFT. This is important.
Other types of beliefs, which have higher inertia, are not easily dissipated by TFT such as self-esteem, religious beliefs, political beliefs or our Evolving Conscious Belief System.
16. Each belief has a specific inertia or resistance towards change, which has to do with:
a. How many experiences have gone into is creation.
b. How many different kinds of experiences have contributed to this conclusion. (If we have only one experience, which is repeated then it does not create as much inertia as having different stimuli creating that belief.)
c. How much thought has gone into its creation.
d. The degree to which it is linked to other beliefs – creating a web of beliefs.
e. How much we depend on this belief for our sense of security, self worth or freedom.
How much psychological reversal we have in relation to this belief (such as being in the role of the victim or guilty one.)
In general, most phobias are not the product of processing various experiences and coming to a conclusion and thus have lower inertia and can be easily removed by TFT.
Our experience is that fear, guilt, pain and all other emotions can be easily dissolved by tapping on the energy field in this way.
However, general anxiety, depression, self-esteem and other issues often require more work on the various aspects which make up this more complex inter-linked system of beliefs in which our anxiety is also connected to fear, pain, guilt and anger towards ourselves.
All emotions, however, can be dealt with extremely effectively as long as we are adept at dealing with their complexity.
Thus, it is not the intensity (panic – rage) which obstructs immediate results with TFT but rather the complexity of the issue and how many different beliefs and emotions are involved. In other words, it is not the intensity of the belief, but its inertia, which complicates the healing.
Thus, when we are experiencing or thinking of any stimulus, we perceive it through a series of at least four filters, each presenting its own interpretation of what is happening and how that relates to our basic needs of safety, self-worth, freedom and pleasure. If any one of those filters is creating a stronger charge, then although we (usually) are aware of how the other filters are interpreting this stimulus, our emotional reactions will usually be the result of that most strongly charged interpretation.
By reducing the charge associated with the Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Experiences, and strengthening our Evolving Conscious Belief System and Spiritual Intuitive Faith, we become free from irrational emotional suffering.
TFT, Self Knowledge and Belief Transformation
17. This is why when we remove or harmonize the disturbed energy field, not only do we experience freedom from the physical or emotional disturbance but we also experience a new perception of that stimulus and reality. We are awakened to a more rational and objective interpretation which was always there (as a parallel belief) but could not be experienced because of the static created by the energy disturbances of emotionally charged memories in the subconscious.
As a result, with TFT we have a positively changed belief system without even discussing beliefs, because our logic and wisdom were allowed to surface with the removal of the obstructing energy field, through tapping.
18. This is also why in many cases during the employment of TFT or EFT, the memory of the original causal event itself is accessed – without actually seeking it. It comes to the person?s mind and is discharged and thus set free. This is made possible even though it has not been accessed throughout years of psychoanalysis because now, with the collapse of the energy field, there is no longer a need to repress in order to avoid pain. The pain is removed.
Where the Techniques make Their Intervention
19. Let us now look at the how the various psychological methods make their interventions.
a. Psychoanalysis works basically by seeking to uncover the Mistaken Childhood Conclusions and other irrational beliefs allowing us to reevaluate them in the light of our Evolving Conscious Belief system, thus creating greater objectivity and a belief system more aligned with “reality”.
b. Cognitive Psychology does the same by encouraging us to investigate alternative perceptions of reality. In some cases, the counselor might suggest new perceptions which we might not have found within. With this method, there is greater intellectual intervention than with psychoanalysis.
c. Behavioral Therapy seeks to bring new experiences and thus new conclusions to the Evolving Conscious Belief System. This will work as long as the repressed Emotionally Charge Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions are not highly charged concerning the specific stimulus.
d. Healing the Inner Child seeks to bring to the surface not only the Mistaken Childhood Conclusions but also the emotions associated with them so that they can be discharged, reevaluated and healed. In some cases, we are asked to reinterpret the event while in experiential (mental) contact with it. Here we might use regression techniques or rebirthing for more experiential contact.
e. Catharsis Techniques bring us into contact with repressed emotions (results of Emotionally Charged Impressions or Mistaken Childhood Conclusions) either by coming into contact with old traumatic memories or by accessing them through an awareness of the energy body and emotions stored in the body (Body Centered Psychology – Hendricks).
These emotions and their energy fields are released through various forms of catharsis such as yawning, crying, shouting, beating a pillow or various movements.
Such methods seek to release the emotional charge associated with the first two types of beliefs and then eventually replace them through reevaluation, affirmations and faith.
f. EMDR accomplishes all of the above by an ingenious technique designed by Francine Shapiro, which allows us, with the movements of the eyes (or alternating awareness between the two sides of the body) to more easily access (and release – if necessary) the emotional charge associated with a traumatic experience.
Then again, by this alternation or awareness, we install a new positive belief that we chose. There may or may not be catharsis involved. It works at the level of the Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions and then seeks to replace these old beliefs with the Evolving Conscious Belief System and/or Spiritual Intuitive Faith.
All of the above are obviously effective and have helped millions of people.
However with the exception of EMDR, they are all much more time consuming and often are not able to completely remove the disturbances from the energy field and thus achieve the total therapy that can be accomplished with TFT.
g. TFT and EFT – accomplish all of the above by tapping on the thought-energy-field associated with the stimulus and belief, thus removing it so that we can think about or be in the presence of the previously disturbing stimulus and have no emotional disturbance.
The removal of this disturbance in the energy field often allows us access to the original events, which have created it. This might at times bring about a small catharsis but often does not.
It almost always leads to new more objective and enlightened perceptions of reality.
It works mainly on the Emotionally Charged Impressions (which have great intensity – but little inertia) and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions by removing their corresponding disturbances to the energy fields.
The up-flow of more conscious objective beliefs and Spiritual Intuitive Faith happens naturally without effort.
It is also important that these forms of “energy psychology”, as they are now called, can and have been combined and enhanced with any number of the modalities mentioned above such as affirmations, psychodrama, rebirthing, gestalt dialoguing, journaling, meditation, prayer and contemplation.
In conclusion, I find all of these psychological approaches useful for removing the repressed Emotionally Charged Impressions and Mistaken Childhood Conclusions and eventually replacing them with the Evolving Conscious Belief System and Spiritual Intuitive Faith.
TFT and its offspring like EFT, however, to my knowledge, offer us a much more powerful and effective method of healing human suffering than has ever been witnessed in our history.