Magazine article Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Thought Field Therapy Forum Debate

Magazine article Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Thought Field Therapy Forum Debate

Article excerpt


As a practicing psychotherapist, I really appreciated the articles about Thought Field Therapy and EMDR (Vol. 7, No. 4). These "therapies" are promoted in otherwise reputable magazines like Family Therapy Net-worker, in both advertisements and articles, and it was extremely useful to hear a more scientific and critical appraisal.

Lee D. Kassan, author, Shrink Rap and Second Opinions


I was reading David Swenson's article on Thought Field Therapy in your last issue when much to my amusement, it appeared that a past joke of mine had become part of an "urban myth." Within a list of new therapies provided by Swenson was Ear Tapping Desensitization and Remobilization, "one of the newest treatments on the alternative scene, [that] involves using one hand to tap acupressure points on the ear."

In fact, ETDR was advanced by me as a parody of the various "tapping" therapies discussed in Swenson's article, and the phenomenon of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) that was discussed by my colleagues and me in the same issue of SKEPTIC. The first publication on the matter was in 1996 (The Behavior Therapist) when I commented on a recent fascinating training experience in which the founder of EMDR, Francine Shapiro, had spent two days proclaiming the benefits of this procedure. I reported in that commentary:

Unlike Dr. Shapiro, I left the workshop feeling less than optimistic and rather puzzled by the entire experience. How did EMDR get started and what was driving the explosive growth? Over a period of several days, I continued to find these issues sufficiently unsettling and I resolved to write this commentary. As I began to get my thoughts into the computer, there were strong feelings of tension resulting from a mix of emotions. I gave it a SUDS of 7 (Anxiety ratings on a 10 point scale). Then, as I finalized my thoughts, I realized that all my tension was passing; my SUDS rating was approaching 0. Like Shapiro during her famous walk in the woods when she allegedly felt her eyes moving and thereby discovered EMDR, I asked myself what was happening. Could it be I was simply habituating with the passage of time, in the spirit of accepted learning theories? Could the reduction in tension be due to cathartic effects associated with writing down my thoughts, much in the spirit of analytic and emotive therapies? Cou ld it be that something else was operating, perhaps consistent with the newly formulated neurologic models of EMDR? Or was it that my mood had improved with a bit of humor and historical perspective...

It was at this very moment that I realized my head was resting in my hand, fingers extended, index finger near the ear. I became aware of my index finger tapping in repetitive fashion the way index fingers seemingly like to do when deep in thought Then an idea struck me and I put that idea to the test. I purposefully put my right index finger in my right ear, my left index finger in my left ear. I started to alternately tap my ears while thinking about current guild issues within the American Psychological Association; I tapped more quickly while focusing on the Practice Directorate; I furiously tapped while wondering why AABT lends credence to EMDR by allowing a special interest group on that topic; and I calmly tapped while recalling a wonderful paper from years ago on the decline of excellence in psychology. At the end of this exercise, I was at peace and it was then that Ear Tapping Desensitization was born.

A full history of further developments with ETDR was published in a 1998 newsletter of the Australian Psychological Society ([sim]jsjp/etd.htm). At this site you can read about single ear tapping, interhemispheric coherence, establishment of the ETDR Institute, and finally the demise of ETDR as a satirical device.

All has not come to an end for Ear Tapping, however, and I am working on a number of other innovations. …

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