Category: Complementary and Alternative Therapies
What is it?
This technique is reportedly used to treat psychological problems including phobias, anxiety, trauma, loss, addictive urges, obsessions, compulsions, and a wide variety of other problems. Originally the technique was called the ‘5-minute Phobia Cure’ and was sold via television advertising. It relies on specialized tapping on various energy meridians in the upper body and hands in a specific order, called algorithms, while the patient imagines the traumatic event.
How does it work?
Thought field therapy (TFT) proposes that the meridian system, when stimulated in a specific sequence, can encourage healing of traumatic emotions. It is claimed that this procedure realigns the body’s inner control system for these emotions.
Is it effective?
There is some literature in support of heart rate variability ratings. The degree of fluctuation between heart beats however is widely debated when discussion turns to the appropriateness of this measure. Overall the use of TFT for PTSD has not been researched adequately to give a measure of its effectiveness.
Are there any disadvantages?
Patients can become uncomfortable with the tapping involved with this technique.
Where do you get it?
Under this system there are 14 meridians and vessels leading a multitude of possible tapping routine combinations. Therefore only trained professionals in the technique are able to administer this type of treatment. The Natural Therapies Australia web page has a directory of therapists in your area offering TFT. While these strategies are pursued, it is also important that the person with PTSD is under the care of a certified health professional.
What are the evidence limitations?
There is currently no explicit evidence to support TFT as an independent intervention for PTSD. Much of the evidence base is derived from lower levels of evidence such as expert opinion and clinical experiences. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.
Based on the current lack of high quality evidence, TFT cannot be recommended as a first-line intervention for those diagnosed with PTSD. More research is required.
Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health 2007, ‘Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Practitioner Guide’, National
Health and Medical research Council, viewed 11 December 2008, http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/mh13.pdf
Callahan, RJ 2001, ‘The Impact of Thought Field Therapy on Heart Rate Variability’, Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 57, pp. 1153-1170.
Devilly, GJ 2005, ‘Power therapies and possible threats to the science of psychology and psychiatry’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 39, pp. 437–445.
Sakai, C, Paperny, D, Mathews, M, Tanida, G, Boyd, G, Simons, A, Yamamoto ,C, Mau, C & Nutter, L 2001, ‘Thought Field Therapy Clinical applications: utilization in an HMO in behavioral medicine and behavioral health services’, Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 57, no. 10, pp. 1215-1257.