"Thought Field Therapy is a relatively little heard of treatment used to overcome phobias, fears, traumas and pain. Self confessed dentophobe MONICA HAWLEY decided to give it a try
Learning to overcome your fears and phobias with unusual thought therapy
Whining drills, large needles and scary-looking instruments are three things that can strike fear into the hearts of millions, including me.
A particularly horrible childhood memory of my teeth being painfully scraped clean by an unfriendly dentist has prevented me from going to the dentist for the last 16 years.
While my teeth don't look too bad, it's obvious a check-up wouldn't go amiss, but every time I pick up the phone to make an appointment, something stops me.
Desperate to overcome what is obviously an irrational fear, I decided to visit Jill Schmitt, Thought Field Therapy practitioner who claims she can get rid of phobias in just one or two sessions.
"The treatment is so fast-acting that people think 'it can't have been that that did it," says Jill who lives in Oxshott.
She explained that Thought Field Therapy (TFT) was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Roger Callahan, 20 years ago.
He had a patient called Mary who had a phobia of water and had been treating her for 18 months using all sorts of therapies including hypnosis, but nothing was working.
At the time, Dr Callahan was learning Applied Kinesiology, a system of using "muscle testing" to diagnose health problems.
He had been study meridians, or energy lines in the body, and when Mary described her fear as being in her stomach, he decided to try it out.
As he had learned the stomach meridian passes beneath both eyes, he asked Mary to think of her fear and as she did so, he tapped beneath one of her eyes.
When he did this, her fear vanished. "She said 'It's gone, I'm not frightened anymore' and rushed out to the swimming pool. He couldn't believe it," Jill explained.
"But when he tried it out with other patients nothing happened and he discovered that the person had to be focused on what they are worried about for it to work."
After years of research and experimentation, Dr Callahan developed TFT, a technique that diagnoses and treats negative emotions.
Phobias and fears are cured by tapping on certain parts of the body in a set sequence, or algorithm.
According to TFT, when we think of a problem we tune into a thought field.
Unpleasant emotions are caused by negation information in thought fields called perturbations and by tapping on the correct meridian points these are subsumed and the negative emotion disappears.
The principle is not dissimilar to acupuncture as it stimulates the body's energy meridians, but there are no needles involved.
Jill has been practising TFT for two-and-half years. She is also a Reiki practitioner and hypnotherapist and was on a hypnotherapy course in New York when one of the other students told her about TFT.
"She said, 'If you think hypnotherapy is good, thought field therapy will knock your sock off. It works much faster and you can think of a phobia you've had for 50 years, tap on your body and it goes'." Jill said.
"I said: 'Come on', but I trusted her implicitly so sent off for an information pack. It sounded too fantastic to be true, but I went on a course and I thought it was fantastic.
"It isn't a counselling session," Jill explained. "I don't need details. I just tell people to think about the incident, focus on it and the person involved."
As I settled down to start my TFT treatment, Jill asked me to think about the last time I visited the dentist.
She asked me to rate my anxiety on a scale of one to 10, and with 10 representing maximum anxiety. At that point, just the thought of the dentist and his cleaning instrument made me feel quite unnerved and I told her seven.
Jill then asked me to hold one arm out rigid and try to resist as she pushed down on it. As she did this, she asked me various question and from the resistance , worked out which parts of my body needed to be tapped and in what order.
The tapping included under my arm, on the back of my hand with two fingers, under my eyes and under my collarbone. After I had done this, she asked me again to rate my fear and amazingly I felt calmer.
She then asked me to carry out a sequence which included tapping a meridian point on the back of my hand continuously while carrying out a series of actions, including looking to each side, up and down and humming.
Although I felt slightly silly doing this, when it was finished and Jill asked me to again rate my fear, I found I felt even calmer.
We continued the sequence and actions until I was down to anxiety rating of two.
After this, she asked me to think about sitting in the dentist's chair and again tapped my fear down to an acceptable level.
But the third time, she asked me to think about my fear of pain proved more tricky. Each time I focused on the pain, I felt panicky and my fear rating had only gone down to a six.
Jill explained that I probably had a toxin that was interfering with the treatment.
"If the treatment is working and then it stops, you've found a toxin" she said. "It makes you much calmer if you eliminate them, as they make you nervous."
Toxins are normally harmless substances that have an adverse effect on the body's energy system and include certain foods such as wheat, milk and corn or fragrances such as perfume or deodorant.
At this point, Jill decided to call Dr Colin Barron from Dunblane, Scotland, who uses voice technology TFT.
This produces a hologram of patients' voices as they speak over the phone while thinking of their problems and pick up perturbations to identify toxins.
Dr Barron asked me to repeat certain words like "deodorant" "cereal" and "T-shirt" and worked out that my toxins were wheat and my washing powder, which he advised I should stop eating and using for the next eight-12 weeks to make sure the TFT treatment worked.
To eliminate them, Jill pressed on my head while I inhaled and thought of the toxin before exhaling. We then followed the tapping sequence give by Dr Barron.
By now my fear rating was down to a three and I felt strangely calmer at the thought of going to the dentist. While sceptical and slightly bemused at the style of treatment, I must admit I felt much more relaxed.
"This is not therapy, so you don't have to keep coming back." Jill explained. "Emotional problems disappear in minutes and once the correct sequence is identified, it can be memorised for future use.
"Some people are upset and can't put their finger on why, but thought field therapy calms them down. It's anti anxiety.
"Because it's a relatively unknown therapy people come to me who've tried everything else."
Jill has treated patients with fears of butterflies, balloons and claustrophobia, as well as those suffering from pain such as arthritis.
She has appeared on television programmes including Kilroy, where she treated a patient on air.
"Thought Field Therapy is like an onion, you have to peel away the layers." She said.
"I love it because someone comes in feeling anxious and goes out in a much better state and that is wonderful."
After my hour-and-a-half session with Jill, I certainly felt more confident about getting my teeth checked. But did TFT work? Well, Jill gave me the number of a dentist she knows and I've made an appointment, so it's definitely a start.
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.