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Posts Tagged ‘James Herbert’

Since my Psychjourney blog, Monica Pignotti, MSW has closed down due to all Psychjourney Blogs on Typepad being discontinued, I am going to begin reposting some of the more salient articles from that blog. I will repost the TFT articles on this blog and certain others on another blog that will be replacing the Psychjourney blog. The following is a reposting of  two blog articles I wrote on a 2006 NPR program on TFT and its use with survivors of Hurricane Katrina, for which I was interviewed. Other guests included Drexel Professor of Psychology James Herbert and Roger Callahan. Fortunately, the links to this program on the NPR website that I provided, still work.

For those who would prefer to read rather than listen, a transcript is also available on the NPR website.

National Public Radio Program on Thought Field Therapy

March 26, 2006

This is an announcement to let you all know that on Wednesday, March 29th I will be a guest on the National Public Radio program “All Things Considered”. The topic will be the Thought Field Therapy.

James Herbert, who is a Psychology Professor at Drexel University and was co-author (with Brandon Gaudiano) of the 2000 Skeptical Inquirer article on TFT, will also be a guest on the show.

The Association for Thought Field Therapy has managed to get a team of TFT therapists into a Charity Hospital program in New Orleans to work with survivors of Katrina.  One of the reporters from NPR picked up on this and decided to devote a program to this topic.  I will be speaking about my experiences with TFT and my recently-published study on the TFT Voice Technology.

Link and my Comments on NPR Program on TFT
March 30, 2006

There is now a direct link for the NPR program (aired 3/29/06) on TFT, now available for people who wish to listen to the program on the internet:

In response to the comments, yes, I was very pleased with how Alix Spiegel put together this program. Given the tremendous amount of interview material she had to put together for a 12-minute segment, I thought she made wise choices on what to include and she gave a well balanced presentation and that the way she put together segments from my interview was very accurate. I give her kudos for not taking the ATFT’s claims at face value and really doing her homework.

Had there been more time available, there were a few additional points I would have like to have made. The saddest part of the entire program was the interview with the survivor of Katrina who blamed herself for not tapping enough when the results of the TFT treatment did not last with her and her panic returned. Callahan’s explanation is even worse than that; if TFT treatment results do not hold up over time, he maintains this is due to “toxins” and this (for paying clients) would require signing up for the more expensive TFT “Diagnostic” or VT treatments (I have discussed toxins elsewhere in this blog).

The biggest surprise for me was that Callahan actually claimed on the program that TFT could treat Malaria — he didn’t say the stress from Malaria — just “Malaria”! I was aware of the ATFT team’s activities in Africa but didn’t think he would openly claim such a thing without any qualifying statements. This amounts to making medical claims, as I understood him. Of course, I have known that privately many TFT proponents really do believe that they can actually treat diseases, but I thought that for PR purposes they would be more subtle about the claims they made in order to protect themselves. It looks like I was wrong about that.

Bottom line: The NPR program did an excellent job in conveying the message that Callahan and other TFT proponents are making grandiose claims that are unsupported by good evidence. I only hope that the hospitals and relief organizations that are supporting the ATFT team being there will take notice and do something about this. What they are endorsing is inexcusable. There are empirically supported, effective treatments for trauma and the kinds of symptoms the survivor on the show was experiencing. There are very effective existing treatments for panic so I have to ask these hospitals why this woman did not receive those and instead received a bogus therapy that did not help her in the long run? The administrators of these hospitals and relief organizations can expect to hear from me and a number of other concerned mental health professionals and doctors very soon asking why they are depriving their patients of empirically supported treatments and giving them quackery instead. We expect some answers.

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The Callahan TFT website currently has a section entitled Thought Field Therapy (R) Professional Review. There are a few points, however, that need to be made about this so-called professional review. First, not all the authors of the articles on the page are mental health professionals. Note that this is not intended to be an argument from authority. It is content that matters, not the person’s credentials. Nevertheless, it is important that credentials be accurately represented because professional authority does influence people. What I am challenging here, is the representations the Callahans are making implied in that title, which would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the people listed in that section are all professionals reviewing TFT, which do not appear to be accurate and people have a right to know this. While some of them are mental health professionals (people with masters or PhD degrees in psychology, social work or a related profession), not all are. Steven Barger, who wrote the lengthiest “review” has no mental health professional credentials. At the time he wrote that, he had only a BA from Ball State University and made his living as a bicycle security guard (I’m not sure what his current job or degree is as I have not kept in touch with him, but those were his credentials when he wrote the article). There’s nothing wrong with that, but the Callahans should not be portraying a security guard as a professional.

More importantly, the “professional review” is highly selective and contains only favorable reviews. Some of the reviewers have paid $100,000 for VT training and thus, have a considerable investment in TFT. The favorable reviews consist mainly of anecdotes from their clinical experience, rather than an actual review of the evidence. There have been a number of professional reviews on TFT that are being omitted from the Callahan’s list, so to make up for that deficit, I will list them here:

Gaudiano, B. A. & Herbert, J. D. (2000). Can we really tap our problems away?: A critical analysis of Thought Field Therapy. Skeptical Inquirer, 24, 29-36.  Full Text available http://www.csicop.org/si/show/can_we_really_tap_our_problems_away_a_critical_analysis_of_thought_field_th/

Hooke, W. A. (1998). A review of Thought Field Therapy. Traumatology, 3(2), Article 3. Available: Click Here.

Kline, J.P. (2001).  Heart Rate Variability does not tap putative efficacy of Thought Field Therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57 (10), 1187-1192.

Lohr, J.M. (2001).Sakai et al. is not an adequate demonstration of TFT effectiveness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 1229-1235.

McNally, R.J. (2001).  Tertullian’s motto and Callahan’s method.  Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 1171-1174.

Pignotti, M. (2005). Thought Field Therapy Voice Technology vs. random meridian point sequences: a single-blind controlled experiment. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 4(1), 72-81. [Note: this is, to date, the only randomized clinical trial on any form of TFT published in a peer reviewed journal, yet it was left off ATFT’s list. This study showed that Roger Callahan’s TFT Voice Technology did no better than random treatment sequences using no proprietary technology. Although the Callahans have lowered the price for VT training from $100,000 to $5,000, this is something people might want consider before spending $5,000 on the “Optimal Health” course that teaches VT. Your choice, of course. The same allegedly miraculous results were obtained using completely random sequences from TFT treatment points drawn out of a hat. This strongly suggests placebo effect is at work here.]

Pignotti, M. & Thyer, B. A. (2009). Some Comments on “Energy Psychology: A Review of the Evidence”: Premature Conclusions Based on Incomplete Evidence? Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Training, Practice,46, 257-261.

Pignotti, M. (2005). Regarding the October 2001 JCLP Special Issue on Thought Field Therapy: Retraction of conclusions in the article “Heart Rate Variability as an outcome measure for Thought Field Therapy in clinical practice.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(3), 361-365.

Pignotti, M. (2005). Callahan fails to meet the burden of proof for Thought Field Therapy claims: Rejoinder to Callahan. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(3), 251-255.

Pignotti, M. (2005, Fall/Winter). Thought Field Therapy in the media: a critical analysis of one exemplar.  The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 3(2) p. 60-66.

Pignotti, M. (2007). Thought Field Therapy: A former insider’s experience. Research on Social Work Practice, 17, 392-407. Abstract: http://rsw.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/17/3/392

Pignotti, M. (2007). Questionable interventions taught at top-ranked school of social work. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 5, 78-82.

Rosen, G.M. & Davison, G.C. (2001).  “Echo attributions” and other risks when publishing on novel therapies without peer review. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 1245-1250.

Rosner, R. (2001).  Between search and research: How to find your way around? Review of the article, “Thought Field Therapy: Soothing the bad moments of Kosovo”. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 1241-1244.

Click here to read the abstracts of the Journal of Clinical Psychology articles listed above. I will gladly e-mail reprints of articles I have authored to anyone who sends me their name and e-mail address.

Why are these articles not listed on the Callahan’s website as reviews of TFT and instead only favorable reviews listed by TFT proponents? As for a substantive rebuttal to Barger’s arguments, although they do not directly respond to Barger, many of the above articles effectively refute the points he raised. Why are the Callahans not informing people of these reviews? Sources have told me that people have asked them who I am and why I am so critical of TFT, but have they referred anyone to my articles? I have heard that my name is not allowed to be mentioned on their list serv. Instead, I am simply referred to as “the skeptic” while omitting the fact that at at one time, Callahan had told me he felt I understood TFT theory better than anyone he had ever trained, outside the Callahan family. Perhaps this article will come up on a Google search on “Thought Field Therapy” so people can become properly informed of these critical reviews.

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