By Diana Appleyard
The revolutionary new treatment that claims to cure a broken heart simply by tapping your body's pressure points.
With one in three marriages ending in divorce, more women than ever are experiencing the pain of a break-up. And it's not just marriage: any emotional loss can drag us into a downward spiral.
But a radical new treatment, Thought Field Therapy (TFT) - the brainchild of American clinical psychologist Dr Roger Callahan - offers hope to those suffering the pain of unhappy love.
Dr Callahan believes that when we think of a particular problem, we generate a thought field around ourselves - in much the same way as electrical equipment generates an electrical field.
But by tapping certain points on the body - the same as those used in acupuncture - we can unblock repetitive and damaging thought pattern and so heal our pain.
Emotional problems, explains Dr Callahan, cause a series of perturbations which set off a hormonal and chemical reaction in the body. This reaction gives rise to insomnia, obsessive thinking, anxiety and loss of self- esteem.
He says that love pain is not just a state of mind but a medical condition, and that while anti-depressants simply suppress emotion, TFT offers a real cure.
His theory is that by tapping the body in particular sequences, called algorithms, while thinking about the problem, it is possible to unblock the emotions and feel better. Treatment is said to work like opening a combination lock: if you don't tap them in the right order, the lock won't open and the memory will not be freed.
Liza McGuire, 35, an interior designer who lives in Coulsdon, Surrey, turned to TFT when her husband Andy left her for their 21-year-old neighbour.
The trauma brought Liza, who has no children, close to an emotional breakdown. She could not sleep or work and her friends feared for her sanity. But now she is back at work and feels more self-confident than she has for years.
'My problems started when Andy invited our next door neighbour, a very flirtatious girl, to help with our business,' she says. 'Andy did building work and I did the interior design side. We'd been married eight years and I'd never suspected him of straying before. But then this girl came to work with us and he was all over her.
Finally, I snapped and asked him what was going on, and he said he was in love with her. In May 2001, he moved out to go and live with her at his parents, leaving me devastated. For the next three months, I could do little more than survive.
'Andy took all my self-confidence. He made me feel I was unattractive, over-the-hill and useless. After he left, I did not eat anything except the odd biscuit for almost a month. I was a wreck, unable to sleep, eat, leave the house or work.
'Both my parents are deal and, as an only child, I felt I was alone in the world, although I do have some very supportive friends.
'All day and every day, I could not stop obsessing about what had gone wrong. You run scenarios in your head over and over again.
'TFT some - and I don't really understand how - stopped this constant loop of obsessive thinking, which was dragging me down and stopping me from getting on with my life.
'I went into it slightly sceptically, because although I do not believe in alternative therapies, I couldn't see how tapping your face or body could make a difference to a problem as intense as mine.
'I had just one session with Jill Schmitt, whom I met at a business referral conference, organised by a High Street bank. I'd gone along because I knew I had to re-start my business and needed some help.
'Jill explained what she did and I thought it might help me, so I made an appointment.
'You stand there, fully clothed, and think as hard as you can about one issue that is bothering you, while Jill asks you to assess your problem on a scale of one to ten. Then she tells you where to tap - in my case, it was under my eyes.
'You do that for ten minutes or so, and then she asks you to say, again on a scale of one to ten, how you feel about the issue. You keep doing this for about an hour.
'Gradually, I found that the thought of Andy's loss bothered me less. It wasn't a sudden, dramatic thing - just a lessening of tension, a loss of pain.
'Then, in the weeks after the session, which cost me £80, I found that I wasn't thinking about the break-up any more. I would wake up feeling optimistic about the day, thinking about work and little things like what I was going to wear.
'Today I feel so much more confident and happy. My interior design business in flourishing, I've made new friends and am out more than I have ever been. I feel I have a future.
'I haven't been back for another treatment, because I don't feel I need one. I can't quite understand it, but the effects for me have been remarkable - TFT has freed me to get on with my life.'
Susan Barrett, 24, who works as a nanny in South-West London tried TFT when she found herself trapped in a destructive relationship with a married man.
In desperation, she's moved to the UK from her native Canada, but says she still couldn't break free. They kept in close contact through emails and text messages, and she thought about him constantly.
'When you're in love with someone, everything seems to set off a thought of them.' says Susan. 'You see a car in the street and you think. "That's the car he drives."
'Every morning, I would check my e-mails to see if he had sent me anything. It becomes a pattern that is very hard to break, and it was stopping me from getting on with the rest of my life.
'I wanted to enjoy myself in the UK and start a new life - but my emotions were holding me back. There's something about love which consumes you; and when that love has gone wrong it's so easy to let it affect everything about the rest of your life.
'I got involved with him when I went to work at a fashion shop, where he was a manager. For six months we circled around each other. We both knew the attraction was there, but not only was he 11 years older than me, but he was married with children.
Eventually, we could resist it no longer and started an affair. 'No one at work knew, and my family would have been furious if they'd found out.
'We saw each other every day, and talked constantly. At that point, I wouldn't have said I was in love with him. I felt really attracted to him, and he was great fun, but I did not know what love was.
'But then he said to me: "I'm falling in love with you" and I thought: "Oh no." He made it plain that he would never leave his wife.
'After three years, I decided I had to try to escape from it. I moved cities - but the text messages and e-mails kept coming. In the end, I moved to England.
'Leaving was the hardest thing I've ever done, and it was really only at that point that I dawned on me how much he meant to me.
'Being in a foreign country made me even more vulnerable, and I found that I was thinking about him obsessively. It was affecting every part of my life, and I couldn't see any way out of it.
'Then my employer recommended a friend of hers, Lilias Curtin, who practices TFT, because I'd told her what I was going through. I was really sceptical, because it sounded so odd: how could tapping yourself help with something like this?
'But I went along, thinking that is was better than taking an anti-depressant. I sat down and talked to Lilias about how I felt, and all the emotions came tumbling out.
'She told me think very hard about the situation, and then tap myself on my face above my eyebrows and above my cheekbones. I sounds incredible, but as I did it, I felt my thoughts beginning to recede. I found I was smiling, and it was as if a weight had lifted off me.
'We had three or four half-hour sessions, and I could not believe the response in me. I had thought it was make no difference whatsoever, but it was like being freed from all these constant thoughts going round and round my head.
'I found I no longer thought about him when I first woke up in the morning, and I stopped obsessively checking my e-mails. It's a really remarkable thing.
'I don't know if it is psychosomatic, but I don't think it can be, because it had become so much a part of my life. Now, for the first time, I feel free to start looking for another relationship with someone my own age.'
Jill firmly believes in a holistic approach, and will discuss client needs on an individual basis to decide upon the most appropriate treatment to pursue. Sometimes a combination of approaches is the most effective - Thought Field Therapy overcomes fears, NLP creates excellence, and Reiki promotes a sense of peace and well-being.
Consultations are personal and confidential, and are conducted face to face in Oxshott, Surrey or over the telephone. Consultants can also be held at the client’s premises, if necessary.
Initial consultations will be for 2 hours. Many people will require only one or two sessions.