All in the Head
The institute, which has 80 employees and grossed $10 million several years ago, according to Upledger, also treats repeat clients.
Among them, he said, is a U.S. senator (whom he declined to identify) who for the past six years has spent two weeks annually in Palm Beach receiving craniosacral therapy.
"He gets cleaned out from all the stress he has," Upledger said. "He told me that once he retires, he'll let me use his name."
Thought Field Therapy
Clinical psychologist Roger J. Callahan of La Quinta, Calif., said he discovered thought field therapy 25 years ago, when he tapped once under a patient's eye, instantly curing her of a severe fear of water. The tapping cleared a blockage of energy in her "thought field" which, in Callahan's view, is similar to an electrical field. Thought fields occur in the body, according to Callahan, and psychological problems and environmental toxins can cause blockages, also referred to as "perturbations," which proper tapping can eliminate.
"It certainly appears ridiculous," Callahan said in an interview, "but if you try it you'll see it's the most important treatment in history."
Here's how it is said to work: A therapist uses a series of prescribed rhythmic finger taps called "algorithms" on various points on the body. The taps and body parts vary according to the problem being treated. During the tapping, the patient engages in a repetitive activity: repeating the alphabet or humming snatches of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" while thinking about a distressing situation.
These repetitive activities are supposed to correct disturbances in the thought fields that cause myriad psychological problems, including phobias, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The cost of sessions varies, but many thought field therapists charge between $75 and $150.
Several published studies have found that thought field therapy, or TFT, was useful in treating trauma, depression and other problems, but none of the studies was subject to standard peer-review.
To Drexel's Herbert, TFT is "silly" and a classic example of pseudoscience. "Despite extraordinary claims to the contrary, there is absolutely no scientific evidence for any of this," he said.
In 1999 the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners reprimanded a psychologist for using TFT in his practice, according to the Quackwatch Web site. The American Psychological Association has also announced that thought field courses are not approved for continuing education credits.
Callahan said that his treatment works and that he believes his critics have a "power problem" and are worried that TFT will rob them of business.
Washington social worker Deborah L. Taylor said that for the past five years she has been performing the treatment during sessions with phobic or anxious clients. "There's more proof that it's helpful than that it's not helpful," said Taylor. "It's a tool."
In some cases, it can be an expensive tool.
The most advanced TFT courses for therapists involve the purchase of a "voice technology" machine coupled with three days of individualized training with Callahan at a cost of $100,000. Voice technology enables therapists to diagnose and treat patients sight unseen, over the phone by analyzing their voices.
"A TFT Voice Technology practitioner has the potential for the whole world as their clients," Callahan's Web site notes.•
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