How TFT (& EFT) ‘tapping’ was discovered – Mary’s Story!

TFT and EFT tapping is great! I give many talks on the subject and I like to recount this story as it gives a great background to ‘tappings’ discovery. In the late 1970’s after unsuccessfully trying many therapies and visiting several doctors a patient named Mary came to Dr. Callahan.

She had a severe phobia of water which left her almost paralyzed, incapable of even the most mundane activities. She couldn’t take a bath in a full tub of water, or even bathe her children, and could only take very brief and extremely stressful showers. If it rained she would be so terrified she wouldn’t leave her home, and even the sight of the ocean terrified her. At night, she would have nightmares that water was ‘getting her’. Her phobia seemed irrational.

No Improvement

Trying every method he knew Dr. Callahan worked with her for 18 months, but with little improvement. Although, she had progressed to the point whereby she could sit anxiously at the edge of a pool. However, that took real courage as she was unable to look at the water. Feeling terrible and whenever she was near she’d say to Dr Callahan:

“This is sheer torture” and “I feel it in the pit of my stomach” and “Every time I look at or think about water I feel it right here in my stomach!”

A common feeling for many people suffering from fear or anxiety. Butterflies! Dr Callahan had an idea that he thought was worth trying. He knew a powerful acupuncture point for the stomach was directly under the eye. As she often mentioned the queasy feeling in her stomach whilst thinking about her fear he asked her to tap the stomach point. He didn’t really expect much, he just hoped it might balance or in some way unblock her energy system, perhaps helping the nausea feeling in her stomach at least.

After a few minutes of tapping Mary stopped with an amazed look in her eyes. “It’s gone!” “What’s gone?” Dr Callahan asked, “That awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.” And then much to Dr Callahan’s surprise Mary ran over to the pool and splashed pool water on her face joyfully exclaiming: “I’m not afraid anymore!” Dr Callahan was skeptical and in-fact didn’t believe her. But he could see it was true and was just as much dumbfounded as Mary, probably more so.

But from that day to this over three decades later she is still free of her awful phobia. Many great things have been discovered by accident and this was one of those times. Eureka! He started to research in earnest trying to replicate his success. However the same approach hardly worked on others with similar problems giving Dr. Callahan a 97 percent failure rate. Although it did work on 3%, and when it did it was very powerful. So, even though this percentage was fairly low he was inspired by the results and embarked on a journey of research.

Over decades he discovered that many more patients could be helped if a series of specific points were tapped in a particular sequence (algorithms) with variations of these sequences helping many different kinds of problems. These algorithms were created primarily through Kinesiology diagnosis and working with thousands of people. Dr. Callahan later called his new found discovery, Thought Field Therapy (TFT).


Paul Emery and TFT Founder Dr. Roger Callahan

How ‘Tapping’ Works – The Theories

Tapping is based on various ideas about the cause of negative emotions. Conventional medicine assumes the mind and brain are the same thing and that emotional problems like anxiety and depression are caused by structural or chemical abnormalities in the brain which can only be corrected with drugs. However, for decades now there have been alternative views.

For example, Dr. Callahan believes that the mind is contained in a field which surrounds the physical body in the same way that an electric field envelops a live conductor. According to this theory, when we think of a problem we tune into a part of this field, called a “thought field”. It is rather like tuning a radio into a radio station. Furthermore, it is believed unpleasant emotions are caused by negative information patterns in thought fields which is termed “perturbations”.

By tapping on the correct meridian points in the right order these perturbations are subsumed and the negative emotion disappears. In effect with tapping we are picking the lock which controls negative emotions – we are entering a PIN code which turns off these problems.

Thoughts Are Energy

Another view held by many is that thoughts are energy – electrical impulses that are sent to and from the brain and body. These impulses of course are easily verified and measured, for instance, the brain’s electrical impulses can be read by an ECG machine, and the electrical activity of the heart can be read by an EEG machine. Every time we have a negative thought or memory it ‘disrupts’ or blocks the balanced and harmonious flow of these electrical impulses, this energy flow in our Meridians.

It is believed is that each time we have a negative thought or memory a kind of electrical ‘zzzzzzzt’ short-circuit affect occurs within the body. Which in turn causes the emotional response. A simple formula looks like this:

Negative Thought/Memory > Body ‘Zzzzt’ Short-circuit = Emotion

If this concept seems difficult to grasp consider this. If it were just the thought that caused an emotion, then why can some people ‘think’ of a big hairy spider and remain completely calm, whilst others ‘think’ about a spider and are completely terrified.

Answer. It’s the body’s energetic, electrical response to the thought, the disruption or blockage and not the thought itself that creates the emotion. How are these blocks, disruptions caused? We’re not really sure – probably by a singular or repeated past traumatic event, a virus, toxins or an illness.

Meridian Disruptions

Meridian disruptions are caused by events that have impacted us even from the earliest age. The body stores and builds up these disruptions blocking our energy pathways. This storing in our meridians can be likened to us having an internal computer hard drive that every time we experience a certain emotion it gets recorded, filed, and stored in the body.

We can open up and access these stored emotional files very easily just by thinking of a past event, or by experiencing another similar event which often unconsciously and instantly accesses the file on that particular emotion, impacting and compounding our current feelings. Interestingly therefore, our meridian system and our psychology seem intricately linked. Tapping at the middle stage breaks the link between the mind and the body by releasing the disruption – the ‘zzzzzt’, resetting and rebalancing the body’s electrical system and helping the energy flow freely once again, thereby eliminating the unwanted emotion.

Physiological Benefits of ‘Tapping’

As previously mentioned QEPR incorporates many techniques however, it is important to point out that apart being very effective for relieving specific emotional and many physical problems, QEPR techniques at their very basic level help calm and relax the mind and body. One very exciting and significant finding is that tapping has an enormous positive effect on the Autonomic Nervous system (ANS), our internal system that controls heartbeat, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, blood chemistry, metabolism, immune functions and other ‘involuntary’ functions.

The healthier your ANS, the healthier you are more likely to be and your ANS can be effectively measured by a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) monitor test. The HRV test is a reliable diagnostic tool that has been used in traditional medicine for over 30 years. The tool quantifies variations in the intervals between heartbeats, which in turn are a window to the ANS. The ANS controls 80% of all bodily functions, and chronic imbalance in the body’s ANS has been found to lead to disease as well as emotional disorders. Tapping can directly influence the heart and balance the ANS, thereby producing significant physical and emotional well-being.

In-fact tapping causes positive changes in the body more than most other approaches, and also no treatment approach is better at quickly rebalancing and normalizing the ANS. Science backs this up. If nothing else you will benefit internally from using tapping on a daily basis. Consider it an internal workout. In-fact, I recommend tapping all known major points daily to really help tune-up all your organs, help your blood-pressure, your blood-chemistry, general aches and pains and more! Once more tapping daily helps clear out all your deep unconscious emotional baggage.


Paul Emery and EFT Founder Gary Craig

The Differences Between TFT and Other Modalities i.e. EFT

I have worked extensively with both and I used EFT for many years, still do on occasion, however, there is a misconception that TFT is more difficult, more complex than EFT because of all the algorithms (specific sequences) to remember. This is far from the truth as the basics of the algorithms are easy to grasp within an hour or so. Once you understand how the various algorithms were built it just becomes common sense. Plus you can always use a cheat sheet!

Secondly, with TFT there are for me and others alike at least, no tiresome ‘set-up’ statements and reminder phrases to use, the ‘Even though ‘I crave a cigarette’ I deeply and completely love and accept myself’. ‘This cigarette craving, this cigarette craving etc. I often hear from EFT’ers that they don’t know what set-up and reminder words to use, so TFT makes it easy by eliminating this obstacle! I frequently found the constant repeating of the set-up statement and reminder phrase impeded the therapeutic process.

Many of my clients may resist saying the set-up, or would just think it was plain weird when I demonstrated during a talk, it sounded too esoteric or ‘new-agey’, some even made fun of it and it would put them off coming for a consultation, especially the men! Many also found it tiring repeating the reminder phrase over and over.

So, I wanted to remove any issue I could and make it more accessible to the mainstream population by adopting the TFT way. TFT is done mostly in silence, with no scripts to remember or figure out. Some tappers also didn’t like that EFT was a ‘one shoe fits all’ type technique. Just tap all points for everything considering EFT is a kind of shotgun approach whereas TFT is more like a laser!

In EFT they are taught many ways and techniques to use if the basic tapping doesn’t work at first, and that list seems to be growing making EFT more complex than ever. It’s said if the tapping doesn’t work look for more aspects, use the Movie Technique, say the set-up and reminder phrase more empathically etc. I’ve never found any of these extra techniques necessary, not to say that they don’t have a use, I’m sure they are very helpful for many.

For me however, it just complicates matters. I never do any of this in QEPR. If I’m doing the tapping part of QEPR I generally just get my clients to ‘tune into’ the feeling of the problem and proceed to use the relevant algorithm. At advanced levels TFT also uses diagnostics – specific tailored sequences for those that the general sequences don’t work, can check for specific toxins and then how to neutralizes them. All of which I provide over Skype also!