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EFT vs. TFT: What is the Difference?

In a nutshell, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a pirated offshoot of TFT (Thought Field Therapy). On Gary Craig’s EFT website he has a series of articles referring to the “Scientific Evolution of EFT from TFT”.  These were first published in the late 1990's.


To anyone fully trained in TFT and conversant with Roger's theory, it should be abundantly clear that the articles are full of factual and deductive errors.


I put together a response that sought to correct the errors and asked Gary Craig a number of times to publish my reply alongside his own article so that the general public could read an alternative explanation and therefore make a choice based on full, accurate and reliable information. 


He has always declined to do so.


Here is the text of Gary’s article with my comments inserted.


Ian Graham

Honorary President – British Thought Field Therapy Association



The Scientific Evolution of EFT From TFT--Part I of V


Since bringing out EFT, I have been questioned often about how its comprehensive algorithm can be as good as (actually better than) the series of individual algorithms that make up TFT.


Has anyone ever seen the data that backs up this claim?  Perhaps Gary can make the data available for analysis.


How can this be? Do we, for example, just ignore Dr. Callahan's adamant statements about the individual algorithms and their theoretical validity? Do we also just ignore the much heralded presumption that the "order" of tapping the points is critical to success? Further, how can we turn our nose up at the presumed importance of muscle testing diagnosis and expect to get adequate results?


Funny thing about science. Someone comes along with a useful idea and builds a theory to explain it. Later on, someone else plays with the same idea, finds a way to improve it and builds another theory to explain the new findings. Then more improvements are made, new theories are built and on and on it goes until eventually the original idea or product reaches a state of near perfection.


Without data to back up the claim, the above is scientifically meaningless.


This story has been told repeatedly throughout scientific history. The Wright Brothers would be astonished if they could see the modern day evolution of their original "flying machine." Other examples are telephones, cars, computers and almost every product we use. Energy tapping therapies are no different.


The fact is one who masters EFT can do everything that TFT does while covering a far wider variety of problems without having to use muscle testing. Does anyone deny that? This flies in the face of the theories underlying the individual algorithmic approach, of course, and makes this a rather uncomfortable series to write. I'm bound to take gas for it because the old theories have brought us much healing and great insights. But it is time to put them under scrutiny in the name of progress. Dr. Callahan deserves every accolade we can give him for his diligence in getting the word out there. Without his most laudable efforts in these matters, you and I would not even be discussing this. That doesn't mean, however, that his theories are necessarily sacrosanct. He is human. Same goes with my theories or anyone else's. We must stay open if progress is to be made.


This is exactly the reason why TFT theory has been under constant evolution - the complete theory now is much changed since I first trained in TFT (and EFT for that matter!) in 1996-97.


But the reality is, if the present theories are accurate, then EFT could not possibly work as elegantly as it does.


Exactly the opposite.  It’s because of the accuracy of TFT theory that we can predict the success rate of EFT, and that of TFT of course!


It would only work once in a while but sputter miserably most of the time as the presumed requirement for "order" is consistently violated. The only "order" involved in the EFT Sequence is to go down the body. This makes it easy to memorize. There is no other reason. It's the same "order" for every case. You can do it backwards if you want and it will still work. "Order" might have some theoretical importance but it is certainly not critical in practice. Further, the theory that certain tapping points are important for certain problems (e.g. the little finger for anger, the index finger for guilt, pounding 30 times on the gamut spot for pain) is of questionable validity because EFT's shortcut sequence gets great results on these issues even when ignoring these presumably important tapping points.


An alternative explanation is that EFT works because it embeds the most successful TFT algorithms within the single sequence.  In other words the “order” that Gary claims is irrelevant is automatically built into the single algorithm he uses in EFT.  Indeed, the  EFT “shortcuts” (sequences of four or five treatment points) have a remarkable similarity to existing TFT algorithms.


For example, the phobia sequence in TFT, under eye (e) – under arm (a) – collarbone point (c), embeds the following treatments for phobias also:  e alone, a alone, c alone, e - a, e - c and a - c.  Seven “treatment sequences” within the one algorithm.  The EFT single algorithm embeds the same sequences in the same order, apart from a – c, but this one would be “caught” doing the EFT algorithm in the reverse direction (as Gary suggests if the forward application doesn’t seem to work).  The end result would be that EFT gets incidental success a consequence of the nature of TFT.


As for identifiable points for anger, guilt etc.  These were defined by diagnosis as those that cleared that specific emotion in a minimum of 80% of subjects.  Other points or sequences of points can occasionally do the same thing, especially the TFT short trauma sequence, eb-c-9g-sq, which also works for anger and guilt when related to trauma - this is embedded in the EFT sequence also.  By the way, one does not “pound” on the gamut spot.  What an unusual choice of word.


In line with the above you might find this interesting. Night before last I spoke with Dr. Larry Nims who was referred to me regarding EFT. As it turns out, we had met in 1992 at Dr. Callahan's home for an informal seminar on what was then called The Callahan Techniques. We have not seen each other since then. Since that time Larry has developed his own comprehensive algorithm (very similar to EFT) and reports using it quite elegantly for years with great results. He has totally ignored the requirement for "order" in tapping and uses the same algorithm for everything (sound familiar?). Basically, Larry and I have been doing the same thing, independently of one another, and have both gotten remarkable results.


This is a credit to Roger Callahan in discovering the common sequences involved as the Craig and Nims protocols use single sequences that embed TFT algorithms.  What is particularly interesting is that Gary confirms that they are very similar.  They would have to be, as this would be the only way to achieve the embedding.  Indeed, if order was not critical to success, then how did the two single sequences end up being very similar?  One would expect that if order were not critical in a 14 point series the chances of coming up with a very similar sequence to the EFT algorithm independently would be astronomical.  On the other hand, if order were critical to success then the sequences would have to be similar to get similar results.  Of course, I’m assuming that Nims tested out other combinations of 14-point algorithms before he settled on the one that worked best, i.e. the one that just happens to embed most of the TFT algorithms!


Interestingly enough, Larry also ignores the 9 gamut procedure and builds the Psychological Reversal procedure into the Sequence. This takes less time. I have been experimenting with this myself recently and the results have been very good. I will spend more time testing the idea and will let you know my results as time unfolds.


Anyone trained in diagnosis knows that a substantial number of clients never require the 9 gamut procedure.  At algorithm level the practitioner has no way of knowing whether 9g is needed or not so it is easier (and harmless) just to do it anyway.  Gary also instructs those doing EFT to add 9g if the EFT algorithm alone doesn’t work.  Treating PR up front is also a choice but not recommended in TFT as finding that it is present can give the practitioner useful clinical data that can guide future treatment.  However, if there are signs that PR is present then treating PR up front is an option.


Another interesting fact. I have received reports from TFT'ers that on occasion they have, mistakenly, had the client tap in the "wrong" order and still got the result. On other occasions they have erroneously applied the wrong algorithm to a particular problem and, to their surprise, the client gained relief anyway. Strange indeed and highly unlikely if all of the reigning theories are accurate. I think these "mistakes" give glowing testimonials to the overall power of energy tapping. However, one must scratch their head a bit because they certainly seem to violate some of the theories involved. I'm convinced there is something else going on and will elaborate on this in another part of this series.


Not so if Gary is referring to those using TFT algorithms.  The phobia algorithm  e - a - c embeds 6 other possible treatments as already pointed out.  If the client only needs one point treating then it does not matter whether you do  e - a - c,  a - c - e,  c - e - a,  and so on as all will hit the single point at some stage, giving the false impression that “order” is irrelevant and that “mistakes” do not matter.  However, if the client requires all three points to be tapped in the order e - a - c then only that sequence will work.  I’ve tried putting sequences I’ve diagnosed out of order and found that they did not work - only when I put them in the order originally determined did they work.  The longer the sequence needed the more critical the order becomes.


Tapping on the energy system while being tuned to an emotional problem is an extraordinary healing technique that is deserving of the Nobel Prize. Its impact on the healing sciences is bound to be enormous. Quite clearly, we are on the ground floor of a healing high rise. Fortunately, there are many people experimenting with this idea and some fascinating finds are being unearthed. In time we will learn much more and will be discarding old notions in place of new theories. It is my fondest hope that someday Roger Callahan, Fred Gallo, Greg Nicosia, Gary Craig and other investigators will all become obsolete as new findings by others surpass us all.



The Scientific Evolution of EFT From TFT--Part II of V

Before this series continues, I think it appropriate to make a distinction. Most of the people doing research on these energy tapping therapies are psychotherapists. To my knowledge, I am the only non-therapist researcher who is putting his results/theories in the public domain. While other researchers are dedicated therapists choosing to become scientists, I am a scientist (Stanford engineer) whose passion is psychology. Clearly, we come at this subject from different backgrounds/angles and our conclusions are bound to collide somewhere along the line. What makes perfect sense to a psychologist can be scientific nonsense to me and vice versa. This is how it should be. This is how science marches forward and this is the spirit in which this series is presented.


On the contrary, it is a recipe for total confusion and invites the propagation of misinformation, as has happened.  True evidence-based scientists then spend valuable time trying to correct those who have been misinformed, thereby delaying progress - which has also happened.


In Part I of this series I suggested that the "order" of tapping in the Sequence was of no practical significance. There is a bit more to say on this before going on to the related subject of diagnostic muscle testing.


The only practical evidence I have ever heard regarding the validity of the "order" concept involves people tapping in what seems to be an "out of order" Sequence. For example, Dr. Callahan and other TFT'ers report asking a client to tap the Sequence in a given order (e.g. UA, UE, CB). The client then taps and reports no apparent relief for the problem. It is then discovered that the client mistakenly tapped in the "wrong" order (e.g. UE, UA, CB). The client is then asked to tap in the "right" order and, upon doing so, relief for the problem is attained. From this it is concluded that order is important.


To me, this is a logical conclusion only if there are no other feasible explanations. However, there are at least 3 other perfectly logical possibilities which have somehow (to this scientist's amazement) been disregarded. For example:


1. In the first round the client may not have tapped enough times, or solidly enough, to do the job. Thus no result. In the second round the tapping was completed more proficiently and the result was thus achieved.


If the TFT treatment protocol is followed correctly then a practitioner would not give up on a sequence after one round and then try another sequence.  The practitioner moves on to a second alternative only when PR has been corrected at all its various levels and the first sequence repeated again after each correction.  This means that for a given sequence that still fails to give a result the client will have gone through 6 rounds of tapping.


2. With some clients, Psychological Reversal comes and goes with great rapidity within the same session. It can and does change in seconds. It is entirely possible (I think likely) that PR was present on the first round thereby blocking an otherwise effective tapping procedure. Then, on the second round, the PR vanished and thus allowed relief for the problem.


Again this doesn’t stand up to the fact that when done correctly, the TFT protocol would have corrected for PR five times using the first sequence alone and up to five times during the second.  In diagnosis a simple test reveals PR immediately anyway.


3. The first round may have been effective (good probability here) but the effect was not noticed by the client because s/he switched to another aspect of the problem. The second round then addressed, and relieved, the remaining aspect thus prompting the client to report relief.


TFT practitioners as part of their training are told about this layering effect and how to deal with it (the tooth-shoe-lump principle).  It happens often in complex cases.  It certainly doesn’t mean that “order” is irrelevant, only that one order worked for one aspect and another order for another.


Any or all of these could have taken place in any session where "order" appeared to be important. Tapping out of "order" is only one out of 4 possibilities and, in my experience, the least likely of the bunch.


In fact, it is the most likely.


Scenario:  the full TFT protocol including PR corrections is carried out properly with the incorrect sequence and nothing happens.  Change to another sequence and follow the same protocol  - the treatment then works.  The only thing that changed was the sequence therefore the effect must be attributable to that change, i.e. order of points is critical.  QED.


It is scientifically inaccurate, to conclude that 1 out of 4 explanations is the answer without thoroughly examining the alternatives. Yet no such examination has been done in this regard and the notion of "order" has been accepted as the "truth" here. No trained scientist I know would buy this.


Nor did Callahan.  The examination of the four “explanations” was done long before Gary came along.  I am surprised that he remains ignorant of this fact.  Callahan tested his diagnosed sequences on thousands of clients and looked at all the possible explanations for what he observed.  Only when a sequence achieved a minimum of 80% success (defined as complete elimination of the problem) and the result could not be explained any other way did he add it to the approved list.  There are other algorithms that diagnostic practitioners may have found over the years but as they are only effective, say, 60% of the time, they never reach the approved algorithm list.


Now here is where EFT might indeed score a hit.  The EFT single sequence may (and probably does) embed these less successful algorithms and so achieve what a TFT algorithm practitioner cannot in a few cases.


In addition, I brought out the fact in Part I of this series that ignoring the presumed necessity for order appears to have no practical effect whatsoever on results. EFT, for example, would not work if order was really important.


Again, it is more likely that it’s because of the order that EFT works!


Further, some TFT practitioners report occasions where relief was attained despite the Sequence being tapped in the "wrong" order. This leaves me rather stumped as to why order is deemed necessary at all. It seems to have no real effect in practice and is the least likely out of four possible explanations.


The answer to this already been given above.



The Scientific Evolution of EFT From TFT--Part III of V

This part of the series explores diagnostic muscle testing and a related mathematical fallacy. For newcomers, diagnostic muscle testing refers to a technique whereby the practitioner tests the changing strength of a muscle (by pushing down on an extended arm, for example) while the client makes certain statements or holds certain thoughts in his/her head. By this means it is thought possible to discern the necessary tapping procedures for a given client with a given problem. I'll get to the mathematical fallacy in a bit but first we need to explore the practice of muscle testing.


Muscle testing is an art. It is a skill that is learned and perfected over months and years. It is not something one becomes proficient at in a seminar. Many readers of this series are extraordinarily good at this technique and use it as the centrepiece of their practices. Despite its clear usefulness, however, muscle testing cannot be considered absolutely accurate.


This is absolutely true.  Muscle testing is indeed a skill that takes a long time to master - and is why Callahan offers a supervisory period after initial diagnostic training.


I don't know of a single muscle tester, for example, who would rely on the technique for a decision as to whether or not to have brain surgery. Rather, muscle testing, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, provides good guides or strong clues leading to healing techniques which are often very helpful to the client.


This is how the importance of order was discovered and how the TFT algorithms were determined in the first place.  Callahan didn’t come across them by accident or random experimentation – he used muscle testing and therapy localisation techniques to determine the common sequences.  If muscle testing was inaccurate then TFT algorithms would not work.  Gary seems to forget this.  Callahan also says that muscle testing is only as good as what is experienced in reality by the client - the only true test of validity.


Even the most proficient practitioners come up against problems inherent in the procedure. I list some of these problems below while pointing out that these problems are even greater for the beginner:


1. The practitioner can easily influence the result by injecting his/her own attitudes or preconceived ideas about what the "answer" should be. Maintaining neutrality in this regard takes much practice.


True.  But this is made crystal clear to every diagnostic trainee.  If you approach diagnosis with preconceived ideas about what will happen then you will get the result you want.  The difference is that your preconception will not be reflected in the reality for the client and it’s being on-line with that reality that is the foundation of TFT.


2. Either the practitioner or the client can become Psychologically Reversed regarding the process. This can influence results. Indeed, it can give you an answer which is the exact opposite of the truth.


Not true.  Both practitioner and client being reversed does not give the opposite result.  It gives double negatives or double positives.  If the practitioner spots this he / she corrects for it then there is no further problem.  This is again part of the training.


3. Clients can sometimes influence the result by consciously shifting their thoughts so they won't be "found out" on some issue.


Definitely not true.  This cannot fool diagnosis - we’re not testing the cognition or will of the client, we’re testing the thought field that is beyond conscious influence.  It is simply impossible to “not think about something” if your attention is brought to focus upon it.  If a client wilfully tries not to think about something, that client will think about it automatically - e.g. try forcing yourself not to think about elephants..!   I used to specialise in the treatment of children and one of the ways I got over the problem of them being tearful when thinking directly of their anxiety, for example, was to keep reminding them not to think about their problem during the treatment!  Naturally, in order to NOT think about it they had to think about it and the thought field to be treated was thereby accessible.


4. Some clients are very difficult to test because they are massively reversed and/or ill.


There is a test for massive reversal so if such clients were difficult to test how could there be a test for it?!  Physical illness, however, does make testing difficult and so we wait until illness has passed.


My main point here is that muscle testing, especially in the hands of a beginner, is loaded with potential for inaccuracy.


“In the hands of a beginner”, yes.  Isn’t this why all skilful practices have apprenticeships?


This inaccuracy problem adds to a mathematical fallacy underlying TFT diagnosis. We turn to that subject now.

Let me acknowledge first that Dr. Callahan is mathematically correct that the number of possible combinations of the 14 tapping points (meridians) is 87 billion. In formal mathematics, this is known as 14 factorial or 14!. Where I have a serious scientific question is in the idea that muscle testing will allow a therapist (even a beginner) to find the appropriate sequence for that client's problem out of the 87 billion possibilities. Mathematically, that is like asking a therapist to walk into 100 acres of clover and go right to the only four leaf clover therein ...OR... asking a therapist to solve Rubik's Cube on the first try in one minute.


A practitioner of Applied Kinesiology would probably be highly amused at Gary’s assertion here!  George Goodheart developed AK’s therapy localisation procedure using muscle testing - and has proven under scientific conditions that it works time and time again.  The whole practice of Kinesiology is built upon its reliability.  A variation on the procedure allowed Callahan to determine the TFT algorithms now in use.  Using the Rubik’s cube analogy and Gary’s mathematical approach to proof - if someone was blindfolded and told to solve the cube by random moves and was only stopped when the cube had been solved it would take up to 1350 billion years (300 times the age of the Earth).  However, if the same blindfolded person was told “yes” every time they made the correct move toward the solution then the cube could be solved in 2 hours.  Therapy localisation  by muscle testing was the “yes” in the search for the correct order of points for successful treatment, thereby allowing the accurate identification of correct sequences in a very short space of time.


I happen to believe that a few people have developed their psychic abilities well enough to perhaps pull this off now and then. But even given this, it stretches credulity to think that one can teach hundreds of therapists (most of whom are inaccurate beginners at muscle testing) to do this consistently. Yet they "apparently" do it. They do get results and people are helped.


So what's going on here? Is this result really because these inaccurate beginners magically diagnosed the critical sequence (in the "right" order, no less) out of the 87 billion possibilities? Do you honestly think they (you) really find the four leaf clover in the 100 acre patch? Doesn't that push your nonsense button just a little?


Not at all.  We owe a great debt to George Goodheart for finding that it worked in the first place and to Roger Callahan for refining it to apply specifically to psychological problems.


There is, of course, another explanation that easily passes scientific reasonableness. It's hard to see at first because it is hiding behind the erroneous notion that order is important in the tapping Sequence. If you still believe that order is important then you must necessarily buy into this mathematical fallacy. You are stuck with it and all the "science" surrounding it. Think about it. Only if order is truly important (which it isn't) do we need concern ourselves with the 87 billion possibilities.


On the other hand, if order is not important (and I hope I have made my point on this by now) then you are left with a mere 14 meridians to contend with. This being so, you need only tap on each one to balance it.


According to Callahan’s theory, TFT does not directly “balance” energy meridians, nor does it clear “disturbances” or “blockages” in the meridian system.  This is a popular but highly unscientific viewpoint held by those with limited understanding of the paradigm and the true nature of energy.  Sadly, it is also an identifying feature of the many therapies derived from Callahan’s original work.

If balancing of meridians was the way TFT worked and “order” of treatment of those meridians was irrelevant then acupuncturists would have discovered TFT / EFT / BSFF/ etc. long ago and it would not matter what one thought about during treatment.  In TFT - and in EFT / BSFF / etc. - thinking about the problem is critical to success.  TFT alters the expression of coded information within the thought field, essentially a reprogramming process – nothing to do with rebalancing, unblocking or correcting a disturbance.  The meridian system is used in TFT in the same way as a computer programmer would use a PC keyboard.  Tapping on specific energy points in a precise order equates to typing in an instruction on a keyboard – if the instruction is typed incorrectly the computer does nothing.


Consider the experience of fear.  Fear is a highly ordered and precisely orchestrated experience which occurs in exactly the same manner in all members of the same species (constriction of peripheral blood vessels, dilation of coronary blood vessels, adrenalin release, etc.), commonly known as the fight-or-flight reaction.  As those events are highly ordered and balanced in both time and space, it is foolish to contend that they arise from a disordered, unbalanced or blocked system.  However, the situation in which that fear response is generated may be abnormal - as is the case with a phobia (a fear of something harmless) - but the individual is still having a normal response to something which they perceive as a threat to their well-being, no matter how odd it seems to a non-phobic observer.  In other words the normal program is being activated abnormally.  The key to resolving this is to deactivate the triggering instructions.


Furthermore, I cannot accept that the fear I would undoubtedly feel when faced with a loaded gun pointed in my face (exactly the same fear felt by a severe phobic when exposed to the object of their fear) is the product of an unbalanced, disturbed or blocked system.  It’s meant to be there and is functionally perfect.


Indeed, the perturbations associated with fear have a vital purpose directly related to the survival response of the individual as a child but which may subsequently be deactivated as part of the process of maturation to adulthood.  It is often a failure of this deactivation during the maturation phase that gives rise to inappropriate emotional experience.  For example, all children develop a fear of heights as soon as they begin to crawl but with maturation this fear is rapidly subsumed so that it is lost by adulthood.  If this natural deactivation does not occur then the fear of heights remains.  Essentially, TFT (and successful EFT) does what nature failed to do for whatever reason.


No order. No magic. No muscle testing. No diagnosis. What a relief. Just very straightforward logic that stands up to scientific scrutiny. That is the essence of EFT and that is why it works so well. In fact, since the meridians are so intertwined, you need only tap on half of them because doing so sends balancing energy down all of them. That's the essence of the EFT shortcut.


Perhaps a more valid explanation is the mathematical fact that it embeds the sequence order of the most successful TFT algorithms.  Even more straightforward logic that definitely stands up to scientific scrutiny.  I once asked an acupuncturist for an opinion on Gary’s claim that treating half the energy meridians sends balancing energy down all of them.  She said that if that were true then she would only need to insert one needle anywhere into each of a few meridians and all her clients would get better immediately – it doesn’t happen, of course.


When therapists do muscle testing, they come up with a series of tapping points that balances the same meridians that EFT (or most any other comprehensive algorithm) does automatically. Muscle testing has the advantage of leading directly to the disrupted energy meridians so that fewer of them need to be tapped.


This is confusing!   Gary said a few paragraphs earlier,  “Is this result really because these inaccurate beginners magically diagnosed the critical sequence (in the "right" order, no less) out of the 87 billion possibilities? Do you honestly think they (you) really find the four leaf clover in the 100 acre patch? Doesn't that push your nonsense button just a little?”


Now he says, “Muscle testing has the advantage of leading directly to the disrupted energy meridians so that fewer of them need to be tapped.”   A clear contradiction.


In contrast however, by the time a muscle tester diagnoses just one such disrupted meridian (and there are usually two or three), another therapist could have completed the entire EFT shortcut sequence once or twice and be off working on the next problem.


True, but this is assuming that EFT works first time every time, which Gary himself acknowledges is not always the case (See Emofree website – www.emofree.com).  I have been told by an ex-EFT practitioner (who subsequently trained in TFT algorithms and diagnosis) that in difficult cases it is recommended that many rounds of EFT tapping over days, weeks even, is carried out until a change is noticed.  In TFT we go straight to the correct order needed and TFT works immediately or not at all.  Constant repetition of any patterned behaviour brings a therapy into the realm of the cognitive behavioural therapist, where treatment over extended periods of time allows extraneous variables to have an effect, e.g. reduction of symptomology with the passage of time, conditioning, desensitisation, etc.


It is always dangerous to challenge someone else's beliefs and I know I have done just that for some of you. Muscle testing diagnosis may have worked for you and, if so, you are very pleased with your results. I do not deny that. Indeed I support you and your results and send a mighty salute your way. I am not suggesting here that muscle testing is useless or to be abandoned.


This has certainly been implied in the article so far!  Muscle testing either works or it doesn’t – one cannot argue that both are the case.


To the contrary, in the hands of the highly skilled technician it can be a very useful tool and it may lead to some helpful new theoretical findings. It may even give you a better "feel" for your client. I do suggest, however, that you examine the theoretical basis from which you are working for an enhanced understanding of your procedures. I also suggest that, for the vast majority of therapists, the job can be done much more efficiently with the EFT procedures.


Some of the time, yes, and that keeps most practitioners happy as it’s a lot better than they’ve achieved before.  But what about those on whom EFT does not work?  Those individuals will have been told that TFT doesn’t work as well as EFT and so are likely never to go to a TFT practitioner to find out.  I believe this to be irresponsible and potentially harmful.



The Scientific Evolution of EFT From TFT--Part IV of V

We turn now to the science behind the individual algorithms taught within TFT. They are put forward as exhaustively tested Sequences that can be used for specific problems (e.g. grief, guilt, anger, phobias, trauma, pain, depression, etc.) thereby avoiding the need to muscle test in these specific instances. Some (but not all) users are quite impressed by them and indicate a high rate of success with their use. I applaud them as well because they have been responsible for many remarkable healings. I tip my hat to all the TFT trainers and Dr. Callahan for bringing them to the public. My comments here have nothing to do with their effectiveness, however. Instead, I am exploring with you the science behind them. I think it needs help.

For a starting point, let's choose the specialized TFT algorithm for grief. Grief is a label for an emotional state that might be evident in someone whose spouse has recently died. Under such circumstances, the TFT practitioner pulls out the grief arrow (algorithm), aims it at the grief target and, if successful, appears to hit the bullseye ... at least in theory.


But who says the target is really grief? Depending on where the person is coming from, couldn't one re-define the same emotion as the fear of being alone?


Yes, so if the grief algorithm seems to have no effect after the full TFT protocol has been tried then move on to another algorithm to deal with the alternative interpretation.  A skilled TFT algorithm practitioner is told to watch out for this and select accordingly.


I'm not talking about aspects here. I mean grief could be easily re-defined in terms of fear. Further, grief could also be re-defined in terms of guilt for what the "griever" did or did not do regarding the deceased during their lifetime. So who is to say that the grief algorithm is the right one? Why not use a fear algorithm or a guilt algorithm?


Exactly, why not?  Or use both.


This thread continues. Someone's anger over what someone said about them could quite logically be re-defined in terms of the fear of what other people will think. If so, then which algorithm do you use? Anger or fear?


Both, if necessary, guided by the client’s response.  All part of the skill needed.


Further, where do addictive urges end and compulsions begin? Aren't both of them related to, or driven by, anxiety?


Exactly!  That’s why the set of TFT algorithms for both conditions are the same.  And Callahan was the first to define the anxiety -addiction connection.  This is why addiction and obsession / compulsion are treated using algorithms which address the underlying anxiety.


Couldn't depression be re-defined in terms of fear, guilt, hopelessness or shame?


Not always.  This is why a depression algorithm was defined as a stand-alone but is often supplemented by algorithms for fear, guilt, etc.


Many years ago I spent an evening pondering these labels and found it quite easy to re-define 50 or so emotional problems in terms of the fear of something. For example, guilt is the fear of being "found out."  Hand washing compulsions are the fear of germs, disease or death. Trauma is the fear of the traumatic event happening again. And so on it goes.


These are just sweeping generalisations, e.g. someone may feel guilty after a bereavement because they didn’t have the chance to do everything they may have wanted for the deceased.  How could this be regarded as a “fear of being found out”?  That said, the TFT algorithm treatment for trauma (eb-e-a-c) also embeds the “fear” algorithm (e-a-c) to deal with any associated anxiety, anyway.


The obvious point here is that the targets at which these algorithmic arrows take aim are imprecise. How can one proceed to cure a problem if they don't know what the problem is?


That’s exactly what I do using diagnosis - I don’t have to know the problem.  Algorithm practitioners, however, do need to develop an idea of where to go but this comes with practice.


Why give someone medication for mumps when the problem is measles? Further, if the emotional targets defy accurate description then how can one expect to develop a precise algorithm for them?


You can’t.  That’s why algorithms for undefined problems don’t exist.  If defined algorithm treatment doesn’t work or there is difficulty pinpointing the aspects of the problem then the responsible practitioner refers the client for diagnosis.


These algorithms must be developed based on what patients or therapists are labeling as grief, guilt, depression, etc. Since the labels aren't accurate, how can we trust the accuracy of the "precise" algorithms based on them? Strange science indeed.


Not at all - their development was based on what the client reported as the emotion that cleared when the sequence was applied, not the other way round.  Good science, in fact, and the essential reality test.


Interestingly enough, these algorithms, however imprecisely developed or applied, have been responsible for many successful emotional healings. There must be a reason for this because these results do not occur by mere chance.


Because an algorithm practitioner who has taken the trouble to develop their skill will use algorithms in combination by analysing the specific make-up of the client’s overall problem.  Once diagnostically trained, this become unnecessary, as the correct sequence for the individual can be determined directly without ever knowing what the problem was or is.


But do we just simply accept the existing explanations and overlook the obvious hole in them? Do we overlook the fact that some TFT practitioners report that applying the "wrong" algorithm often solves the problem anyway? Do we also overlook the fact that purposely avoiding the tapping points in the specific algorithms (while tapping other points instead) gives results that are just as good as for the touted algorithm?


Explanation given already.


I don't pretend to have the last answer on any of this (research on these matters is just beginning) but I do have a plausible explanation for why these individual algorithms work despite the questionable science behind them. Here it is: The one thing all these algorithms have in common is that they tap on 3 or 4 of the meridians. Since the meridians are intertwined, it is quite logical that tapping on 3 or 4 of them will often send enough energy throughout the whole meridian system to do the job regardless of the problem.


A gross misunderstanding of the concept of energy, energy meridians and the nature of the Thought Field.   If this claim were logical then, as said before, an acupuncturist need only stick a single needle in 3 or 4 randomly chosen meridians to treat all known disorders.


This also explains why I get reports from EFT'ers that EFT tends to do the job when the individual algorithms falter.


Again, the EFT single sequence may embed less successful algorithms (less than Callahan’s 80% cut-off point of acceptability) and so achieve what a TFT algorithm practitioner cannot in a few cases.  Equally, there are many reports from those practicing TFT that diagnosis does the job when EFT fails, i.e. even the EFT algorithm failed to embed an ordered sequence, which was subsequently discovered upon diagnosis.


The EFT shortcut sequence taps on 7 meridians, not just 3 or 4. Accordingly, it is more thorough and more likely to do the job. This is common sense. Reasonable science. It explains everything to date and doesn't stretch one's imagination at all.


It most certainly does stretch the imagination!  If it were that simple why didn’t the millions of Chinese or Indian medics who had been treating meridians for thousands of years hit upon this first - and found a cure for all ills?


Given the logical explanation above, I now propose a possible belief boggler for many TFT'ers. Couldn't we persuasively argue that the TFT algorithms operate under the same concept as EFT but are inferior because they don't tap as many points?


I could be wrong, of course, and I'm certainly open to arguments to the contrary.


Is this really the case?  Gary has repeatedly refused to publish this reply on his website.  The general public should be given the chance to hear both sides and make up their own mind, not have information kept from them.


But, for now, the results certainly support this theory.


Now that the Heart Rate Variability test is available, TFT treatments can be proven objectively.  I’ve done this myself to re-test the “critical order” argument.  The results showed that a diagnosed sequence applied out of order did not change HRV but once the correct order was applied, HRV changed.



The Scientific Evolution of EFT From TFT--Part V of V

Summary: bringing it all together

When I first brought EFT to the public, my original statements about it were that:


1. EFT was built largely upon things I learned from my experience with TFT. This is still the case, although I have discarded some parts of TFT that I consider poor science.


So why are the use of affirmations, the notion of meridian balancing / unblocking / correcting, and other highly unscientific add-ons retained in EFT?  TFT does not include any of these.


2. EFT is an improvement over TFT in that it covers a far wider variety of problems with one elegant routine.


Arguably true for TFT algorithms.  But I’ve treated those who’ve had unsuccessful EFT and resolved their problem on the spot with a single diagnosed sequence.  I should say that TFT algorithms wouldn’t have worked on these clients either as they did not contain the required treatment sequence order.


3. EFT is the next step up from TFT. This seemingly bold statement is becoming more obvious every day.


When you have a “one-size fits all” approach where do you then go in terms of development?  In essence the only development route that can be followed in such a case is that of cosmetic appearance.  TFT has developed steadily and new discoveries have been made because of the “sequence order criticality” foundation allowing for tailor-made solutions.  As far as I can ascertain, improvements upon EFT have been achieved by applying unscientific add-ons or procedures to the standard tapping sequence – i.e. cosmetic improvements.  In one EFT-based text I counted over 70 add-ons that were claimed to improve the success rate of EFT.   EFT-like protocols seemed to get bigger at each “improvement” while improved TFT protocols got smaller.


Not everyone believed me, of course. Why would they? I am but a "student of the master" and, to make matters worse, I am a non-therapist, a mere engineer. Nonetheless, EFT has blossomed impressively with most of its growth coming from word of mouth referral. There are a few detractors (as might be expected) but the ratio of supporters to detractors is at least 50 to 1.


One's beliefs, even if they are wrong, are often difficult to move aside. It was hard enough for therapists to accept the bizarre looking TFT even though the results were obvious. Now EFT comes along, pokes holes in the TFT theories and suggests you restructure your thinking to accommodate an improved version that is confidently labeled "the next step up."   In this series, we hammered on the erroneous requirement for "order" in the tapping Sequence and showed that it has no practical significance. If it did, EFT would sputter most of the time.


On the contrary, it works quite well because of the order Callahan identified.


Instead, EFT handily outperforms TFT by more elegantly addressing a far wider variety of problems with but one simple routine.


I am open to the fact that "order" may have theoretical significance but that avenue, in my opinion, should be left to the theoreticians.


My understanding from Gary’s article so far is that he contends that order has no significance.  Now he says it has theoretical significance.  Yet another contradiction.


Why should the practicing therapist be burdened with numerous algorithms when one will do the job routinely?


“Horses for courses!”  As a professional I want to be seen to be applying skill to what I practice, not say to the client, “I don’t need skill, just do this one thing all the time”.   If the application of skill is a burden then load me up.


Further, the whole concept of individually designed algorithms aimed at specific emotional problems collapses under the realisation that the labels for these problems (grief, guilt, fear, etc.) are imprecise and overlap each other. Under TFT, one can never be sure which arrow to aim at which target.


So skill is applied to select the appropriate combination.


With EFT, this problem vanishes as the same algorithm is applied to everything.


This is like a GP prescribing every drug in existence to cure a headache “because the one that works for headaches is in there somewhere”.  I want to go to a GP who explores my condition thoroughly and gives me exactly and only what I need.  And I don’t want to go on repeating an initially unsuccessful treatment in the hope that it might “eventually” work.  As Gary has already pointed out – “Why give someone medication for mumps when the problem is measles?”


Also, the bit about diagnostic muscle testing allowing even the beginner to discern the proper tapping sequence out of 87 billion possibilities is absurd on its face. Since "order" has no practical significance, the 87 billion possibilities reduce down to a manageable 14 meridians. Since these meridians are intertwined, tapping on a few of them is likely to send balancing energy down many, if not all, of them. The individual TFT algorithms tap on 3 or 4 meridians and that is why they work. In many instances this is enough to do the job. EFT, on the other hand, is much more thorough and taps on 7 of them (the shortcut Sequence) and thus is much more likely to get the job done. This bears out in practice, as one would expect.


More appropriate explanation given already.


EFT is, indeed, the next step up. This is not because I have made some grand discovery. Rather, it is because previous research has gone down the wrong avenue and made things far more complex than they need to be. This often happens in scientific endeavors, especially when the research is on something as new and far reaching as these energy tapping therapies. EFT is obvious. It is the next step up. It had to come along as a common sense alternative to efforts that were proceeding down what seems to me like Busywork Boulevard.


If anything, I believe it is “dumbing down” the field and delaying many chances to refine theory.


If anyone still questions this, consider the following contrast. It has been quite easy for TFT'ers to shift from the multi-algorithms of TFT to the one algorithmic approach of EFT. They no longer have several algorithms to memorise (and teach clients)…


Memorise?  Why?  Callahan himself tells practitioners not to bother but to have the sheet of algorithms right in front of them, and ones that can be given to clients to take home.


…and they don't have to muscle test for things the individual algorithms aren't designed to address. This gravitation from the overly complicated to the elegantly simple is a natural one. By contrast, however, how easy do you think it would be for a therapist to switch from EFT back to TFT? Would someone who started off learning EFT find it easy to abandon their highly effective algorithm in favor of 10 or 15 individual algorithms that only address a fraction of the problems?


It appears to now be the case - there are an increasing number of EFT practitioners who are now moving into TFT when they hear of the advances made over the last few years.  Those who have attended my algorithm course have said that they now see TFT in a new light.  I have even had EFT / BSFF practitioners come to me for treatment and have long standing problems (and unresponsive to EFT / BSFF) resolved in minutes.


Wouldn't they be taking a backward step if they did so? By further contrast, EFT is freely discussible / teachable and does not require the signing of restrictive agreements.


True, but I am genuinely concerned that EFT is rolling out a host of so-called “practitioners” with no background or experience in psychology or in the skills of patient care, and who can sidestep protective regulation of psychotherapy in the USA by becoming an ordained minister with credentials for an internet-based church simply by providing their name and address.  I myself became an ordained minister in 2001 just to see how easy it was.  I provided my name and address, no other questions asked, and I became a minister on the spot.  A few days later I also had an official and verifiable ID card and full credentials.  This now allows me to practice psychotherapy in the USA, even though I have never had my ability, competence or qualifications scrutinised by a state regulatory body.


I am equally, if not more, concerned that those individuals are encouraged to set themselves up as trainers of EFT, and who often charging iniquitous prices for material that is freely available on the Internet.


One EFT practitioner in the UK known to me (and within weeks of his free, or almost free, internet “training”), was offering EFT courses for the equivalent of US$500 at the time and claiming to “license” his trainees to practice – a deliberate attempt to mislead.  If it protects patients from any Tom, Dick or Harry who “fancies being a psychotherapist” then give me a restrictive agreement every time. 


Again, I am not the last word on this and I am wide open to your questions and challenges.  I search for the truth and am quite convinced that EFT is the next step up from TFT. But that doesn't make me right and, if I'm wrong, I would love to have it proven to me.


I shall say again that Gary Craig has always refused to publish this reply.





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