What Is Time Line Therapy®?

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  • Written By: Christina Hall
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 12 July 2014
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Time Line Therapy® is a therapeutic process in which varied techniques are utilized to change unconscious programming, which can alter negative behavioral habits. The process was introduced in 1988 by Dr. Tad James, with the release of his book, “Time Line Therapy® and the Basis of Personality.” James says that the the process is based in early psychiatric philosophy, citing the works of American psychologist and philosopher, William James, and his work on defining linear memory. He also draws conclusions from studies of hypnotherapy in the treatment of psychiatric conditions. The time line, as reflected in Time Line Therapy®, can be seen as a model of how the human mind functions. It represents how a person stores memories of significant events in his or her life from the past, in the present, and into the future.


The potential benefits of the therapy include the ability to release negative emotions that are attached to past life events and, in turn, the ability to exist more wholly in the present moment. It has been used to treat various disorders on the anxiety spectrum, depression, and other chronic illness. The process begins with the intention that the patient will learn to refrain from being reactive to a present situation or dilemma based on a past experience. The patient is coached to find the root cause of the dilemma and his emotional reaction to it, which coaxes the subconscious mind to examine the problem in a different way. Eliminating unwarranted negative reactions to present situations can reduce anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric symptoms.

The process of reinventing a time line is personal and private to the patient. Often times, the practitioner will only coach the patient as to how the process works, trying not be overbearing in relation to the patient’s personal experience. The typical Time Line Therapy® session is short, sometimes only a few minutes. The patient is encouraged to continue to work with the practitioner until he or she feels significant relief from emotional distress. At the end of the sessions, the patient is expected to have changed the filters by which he or she sees the world.

The philosophy of Time Line Therapy® says that until the patient has released the majority of stored negative emotions, he or she will continue to experience negative psychiatric symptoms. It is these stored emotions that are thought to cause the majority of emotional suffering and discontent. The therapy is used in conjunction with more traditional psychiatric applications with success.


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