|Thanks for the welcome, Jason.
I'll recall what I heard Branden say at a workshop from a few years ago. I probably have some of the details wrong, but I think I have the main points. :-)
Branden's initial interest in thought-field therapy (TFT; a form of energy psychology) occurred sometime in the early to mid-80s. Callahan was trying to sell Branden on TFT, but he was quite skeptical of it. Callahan was claiming he could heal traumas with it. So one day Branden told Callahan he was suffering from post-traumatic symptoms that were related to him finding Patrecia (his then wife) dead in their swimming pool. Callahan asked Branden if he could do this TFT tapping protocol on him. Branden was skeptical, but agreed to it. According to Branden, immediately after the tapping, he was then able to visualize the scene of his wife's death without being re-traumatized. From then on, Branden did not experience further post-traumatic symptoms. Essentially this was Branden's first, direct experience with thought-field therapy.
Branden then described a scenario in which he asked an hysterical woman to tap certain areas of her body (presumably the "meridian" points), but did not explain to her why. I believe it was at a public venue. Apparently, others were trying to get the woman to calm down, but nothing was working. Branden described this as a "blind" experiment because she was not told the reasons for the tapping. After tapping on herself, she became very calm. Branden was amazed by this.
So these two experiences got him quite interested in the field. He then began using TFT protocols with clients, who then report back to him that these protocols are helping.
Now I would describe myself a sympathetic skeptic to TFT. My clinical training program is very rigorous about practicing empirically-validated therapy. Although clients who have received TFT claim that it has helped them, there is a severe lack of controlled therapy outcome studies. If I were even to try TFT as a small experiment with a client, there is no doubt I would get severely reprimanded, if not get put on probation.
Examples of studies that TFT needs to prove its empirical worth should include:
1) studies with comparison groups (e.g., TFT vs. cognitive-behavioral therapy, or vs.a waiting list control group),
2) studies in which clients are not told why they are tapping (i.e., blind studies),
3) studies in which "non-meridian" points are tapped (i.e., placebo effect studies), and
4) studies in which TFT components are teased apart (e.g., tapping without imagining that which bothers you vs. tapping with imagining what bothers you) and
5) studies in which the disorder being treated is fairly well defined.
Now this is a start. TFT would need many, many, many such studies before it could reach the status of "empirically validated."
Last time I checked, there are a few studies supporting the efficacy of TFT. However, these studies were for a few specific phobias. I'm not too impressed with this because treating phobias is not difficult anyway. Phobias are easily treated with a cognitive-behavioral method called "exposure" therapy. The person is gradually exposed to a fear "object" until there anxiety drops significantly. At a certain point (sometimes several weeks; sometimes less) the person no longer feels any fear toward it.
Anyway, I have not checked lately, but there may be few more studies supporting TFT's efficacy. So it's not to say TFT is all bunkum. It's just that the current evidence for it is limited.
As a related side-bar, just today I was reading therapy outcome research in two different journals showing the powerful therapeutic effects of the therapeutic relationship. When the client connects with the therapist and feels understood, they become hopeful. They then are more likely to follow the therapist's suggestions and it is these clients who tend to fair better in therapy.
This researchs suggests to me that if a client has a very persuasive and understanding therapist, technique is just small curative factor. So therapeutic relationship is something else TFT researchers (and well, all therapy outcome researchers) need to take into account in their studies.
OK, I have psycho-babbled quite a lot here. I hope it was intelligible and informative.