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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Barger’

As part of a smear campaign against me that has nothing to do with TFT, there has been rumor mongering recently on the internet that I have in some way returned to TFT, simply because I choose to call myself an “Independent Scholar”, a title which has been used by TFT proponent Steven Barger, but also many other people who have nothing whatsoever to do with TFT.

Even though to the best of my knowledge, the people involved in this smear campaign are upset about other therapies I have criticized, not TFT, they are attempting to use my past association with TFT to discredit me and are now making insinuations I have returned to TFT when nothing could be further from the truth. I want to state clearly that I have not returned to TFT. I remain and have remained since March 2004, firm and unwavering in my repudiation of TFT. I have had absolutely no regrets or second thoughts about this since that time and as my upcoming publications will show, I remain a critic of  TFT, which still has not met the burden of proof to support its many, grandiose claims.

Steven Barger certainly has no monopoly on the term “Independent Scholar” and I doubt very much he would claim to.

In point of fact, the term Independent Scholar is used by highly respected scholars such as the social psychologist Carol Tavris who uses the term on her CV under “EMPLOYMENT” from 1976 onward, to describe herself. Dr. Tavris’ usage predates Barger’s usage of the term by decades. I consider the work of Carol Tavris, who is among other things, known as a critic of pseudoscientific practices as well as being a feminist writer, to be highly influential on my current work. I consider the career path she has chosen for herself to be a possible role model for my own post-PhD career path and a possible alternative to obtaining a tenure track faculty position. Given the internet smear campaign I have been subjected to, such a faculty position might no longer be possible, although I still remain open to the possibility of accepting such a faculty appointment, should one be offered to me. In any case, Carol Tavris is a prominent example that one does not have to be affiliated with any faculty in order to be a highly respected scholar and make valuable contributions to the field. In addition to being a highly respected scholar, Dr. Tavris also highly values activism and for that reason, I regard her as a kindred spirit since this combination is quite rare and one I value and aspire to as well.

Also relevant to the topic of this article, Carol Tavris and social psychologist Eliot Aronson recently published a book Mistakes Were Made but Not By Me which discusses the unwillingness of people to admit they have made mistakes and the admission of having made mistakes and willingness to change ones position as an admirable quality to be valued, not something to trash a person for as my detractors have attempted to do with me for changing my mind about Scientology and TFT. This topic is even more important for people who are continuing to practice potentially dangerous therapies for children and parents who are listening to such “professionals” who have failed to update themselves on the latest data on the dangers of techniques such as prone restraints and harsh boot-camp style interventions which I consider to be far more dangerous than any tapping therapy. At least no one has ever been asphyxiated by tapping therapies.

In any case to get back to Barger, who at the time he wrote his response to critics of TFT (I have no idea what his current status is), made his living as a bicycle security guard and possessed no advanced degrees in mental health or mental health credentials of any kind, by his own admission, has nothing to do with my choice to use the title Independent Scholar. Barger’s response to critics is still available on the Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy website. Last I heard from Mr. Barger (which was in 2006), he indicated to me that he was working on writing a response to my Journal of Clinical Psychology retraction article and rejoinder to Callahan’s response to me that he claimed would be a devastating rebuttal to my critique of TFT that he indicated he intended to submit to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, but as far as I know, nothing to date has been published in his name in any peer reviewed journal.

Will I ever again embrace TFT? I consider myself an open-minded skeptic, which means I remain open to actual evidence, but I set the bar very high. The only way I would ever again approve of TFT is if double-blind randomized clinical trials were conducted by people who had no vested interest in the practice of TFT and 1) those trials compared tapping on TFT points to sham points; 2) a wait list no treatment control group was also included; 3) the results showed a both a statistically and a clinically significant difference between the group that received tapping on actual TFT points and the group that received the sham points with the TFT group showing superior results.

Such a study would need to be published in a peer reviewed journal with a decent impact factor and would need to meet all the accepted reporting requirements and include features such as fidelity checks and a full detailed description of how the randomization to treatment and control groups was conducted, as well as a full “intention to treat” analysis for any drop-outs.  The study would also need to have a follow-up period of at least one year and would need to use reliable and valid standardized assessment measures for the condition being addressed, not the SUD as an outcome measure. It would need to be replicated at least once. If such evidence were presented, then I might begin to reconsider my current position. I emphasis begin because what it would take to fully convince me is a full, Cochrane-style meta-analysis that included a systematic review and adhered to all the guidelines for conducting and reporting on meta-analyses, showing that TFT vs. sham points produced large effect sizes of between-group differences.

Note that studies comparing TFT to some kind of other control group such as supportive therapy or something not involving alleged “meridian points” would not be acceptable. The mechanism of action would need to be directly tested by having sham points as the control group. Note that changing ones mind based on evidence is not flip-flopping although to date, no such evidence has been forthcoming even though TFT proponents have had decades now to produce it.

These two peer reviewed published critiques of mine from the Journal of Clinical Psychology, which are highly critical of TFT also illustrate that contrary to what those who would smear me online would like people to believe, my use of “Independent Scholar” to describe myself is nothing new. I used that term in both of those critical articles since at the time (written 2004, published in 2005), I was unaffiliated with any academic institution. In 2006 when I began the PhD program at Florida State University, I dropped that term since I was the affiliated with FSU and I resumed using it following my graduation.

I hope this clarifies any confusion generated by thus-far-unidentified anonymous individuals who lack the courage to put their name to what they post about me — who now (following the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti et al) appear to be desperate to discredit me with any far fetched lie they can make up.

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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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