The Barnum Effect


Emotional Freedom Techique (EFT) and Thought Field Therapy (TFT) are both relatively new approaches to behavioural change and they have their roots in the same type of approach. The idea behind these techniques is the use of tapping various parts of the body in sequence to alleviate symptoms.

Depending upon the particular flavour and the practitioner of the technique, it can be surrounded by mystical mummery regarding meridians, or ‘psychic healing points’.

In reality both of these techniques use the sound psychological distraction technique and package it up as some kind of wonderful cure-all. The client is directed to think about the stressor or the behaviour and tap themselves to alleviate the anxiety and symptoms, as the person taps the level of symptom reduces.

The act of focusing on the tapping will naturally reduce the anxiety as the individual will be unable to hold the issue in their head aongside the complex tapping algorythm.

There is a significant downside to this approach, the replacement of one compulsive behaviour with another. For example, a client who wants to lose weight and is a compulsive binger may find that they have replaced the binging with tapping, especially if they are prone to habitual and ritual behaviours.

As a short term fix for in the moment anxiety (fear of flying etc) then this approach has merit, however it should not be considered as a long term fix to deeper psychological problems.

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