A study from Colombia shows it works

In late 2021, the World Journal of Biology Pharmacy and Health Sciences published a study by Fernando Vicente Barraza-Alvarez from the University of Cordoba in Colombia. It examined psychological measures of 14 women working in a childcare center in Texcoco, Mexico. Without a doubt, the study found that Thought Field Therapy (TFT) reduced subjective distress (SUDs) from a high of eight, nine or ten on a ten-point scale, all the way to zero – Z E R O. Callahan’s thought field therapy in the management of emotions associated with stress is a small study. But, with its graphics and clear procedural explanations, it provides a compelling story of how quickly and efficiently TFT can help people who are distressed feel better.

The theory: how tapping could help people who are distressed

The study took place at Universidad Autónoma Chapingo in Texcoco, Mexico. As a matter of fact, this university is internationally renowned for its defense of, and research into, complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies. These modalities, including TFT, fill an important need for cultural openness and sensitivity as well as patient/client choice. TFT is appealing because it is rapid, noninvasive, economical, easy to learn, and can be used both therapeutically and as a self-help tool. With this in mind, researchers wondered if TFT could help distressed women address a variety of mental health issues.

The study setup

Fourteen women participated in the study. They were childcare workers at a nearby center, aged 19 to 47. They were distressed because of anxiety, fear, obsession, or rejection. The data were self-report, using a 10-point scale. This was a simple pre-post study, with measures taken before and after treatment with TFT. The women also wrote about their experiences, adding qualitative data to the results.

For treatment, they used specific tapping sequences for their various complaints, as well as the 9-gamut and “brain gymnastics” (brain gymnastics is tapping accompanied by slow, vertical eye movement) sequences.

The tapping sequences were as follows:

  • obsession: collar bone, under eye, collar bone (3 women)
  • fear: under arm, under eye, collar bone (4 women)
  • anxiety: under eye, under arm, collar bone (5 women)
  • rejection: eyebrow, under eye, under arm, collar bone (2 women)

Study results

Quantitative data:

All the women experienced complete relief from their distress. In other words, their scores went down to a zero out of ten using the self-rating SUD scale.

Researchers also questioned the women about three features of TFT: Was it rapid? Was it effective? Was it believable? In every case, the variables were near the maximum score of five (out of five) for all features, using the Likert-type scale created for these measures.

Qualitative data:

Some of the comments the women wrote regarding their TFT experience:

  • “I felt relaxed and in a better state of health.” (Fear)
  • “Now I have a lot of courage.” (Obsession)
  • “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.” (Anxiety)
  • “I no longer care about some people’s criticisms and attacks towards me. This was so sudden, and I already feel free.” (Rejection)

Cultural sensitivity

Barraza-Alvarez notes that medical systems are “enriched by the ethnic and cultural diversity of communities.” Complementary approaches work to balance the mind, body, and soul. But mainstream Western practitioners often reject these approaches. Today, increasing cultural sensitivity and sharing information lead people increasingly to seek CAM approaches. These approaches work well alongside mainstream methods. Indeed, the two models – Western and CAM – can be complementary, rather than antagonistic.

Why this study matters

The present study builds on the research base supporting TFT, the “father” of all of today’s tapping techniques. Roger Callahan, with TFT, was the first to use acupoint tapping in Western psychological treatment. We all can share a moment of gratitude to him, and to all those who have worked to further the field through research and practice. When we use techniques like this, in short, we are healing the world.

Want to learn more about TFT? Check out ACEP’s TFT training course, taught by Suzanne Connolly. If you are distressed and want to explore tapping to reduce your distress, contact me.