A SHORT-COURSE ON THERAPEUTIC TOUCH
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
I have trained people in Therapeutic Touch for many years (1) and usually teach each of the 3 basic TT levels over a 6 to 8 week period. Upon completion, a person will have 36 to 48 hours of training over 18 to 24 weeks (often longer because of school breaks between courses). Learning TT over time is important because it takes time and experience to develop the abilities of maintaining centering and assessing the field. Anyone wishing to become a practitioner and particularly anyone hoping to take TT into medical settings needs these skills and the confidence that only comes with using TT over a period of time. (2)
However, it is possible to learn basic centering and simple unruffling and grounding procedures quickly and use them effectively. This article describes a simple one-day course in Therapeutic Touch that gives these basic skills.
INFORMATION ON THERAPEUTIC TOUCH
Some basic background information on Therapeutic Touch, followed by some experiential exercises, lays the foundation for the practical work.
History. Therapeutic Touch is an energetic discipline that was developed by Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger in the early 1970’s. Krieger was a professor of nursing at New York University and first taught TT as a graduate level course called Frontiers of Nursing.
Research Base. Therapeutic Touch is used in a growing number of hospital and palliative care facilities throughout North America. Over 40 Ph.D. dissertations, a growing number of major studies, and hundreds of clinical studies show that TT induces a very rapid relaxation response, reduces pain, speeds the healing of wounds and broken bones, supports the immune system (in both the receiver and the practitioner) and reduces stress.
The Energy Field. Every person and every animal is an open energy field. In good health, energy flows through the field. When there is a problem, that flow is reduced creating congestion and energy deficits in the field. Therapeutic Touch addresses a downward flow of energy through the field.
The Steps of Therapeutic Touch are Centering, Assessment, Unruffling and Grounding, Energy Modulation and Ending the treatment.
To do Therapeutic Touch, a person must be centered i.e. quiet and in a state of peace.
The hands are used to feel the field, to assess the quality of energy flow and to identify areas of congestion and deficit.
Long downward unruffling strokes with the hands usually a few inches from the skin, disperse congestion and increase the flow of energy through the field. The TT practitioner visualizes energy in the form of bright light entering through the crown chakra at the top of the head and flowing downward through the field and out the feet (grounding).
Energy modulation procedures bring greater balance and even more energy into the field.
The treatment is brief, usually ending in two to twenty minutes.
Centering, very simple Assessment, Unruffling and Grounding are taught in this short-course.
CENTERING AND SENSING THE FIELD
The following is a simple exercise in centering and sensing the field:
- Close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you for a minute or two. Notice your breathing and how much of your body moves when you breathe. Pause. Then try to sense a pulse somewhere in your body. This work brings you into the present moment, a necessary state for doing TT.
- Open your eyes and raise your hands, and hold them a few inches apart with the palms facing each other. Slowly draw the hands apart and then move them back toward each other in a soft and slow rubber-banding movement. Repeat this a few times. Notice what you feel. Note: you will feel more if your hands are relaxed and you are breathing!
The energy field between the hands is often felt as heat, pressure or tingling in the hands. Energy builds because energy is continually flowing out of the hands. At the end of this exercise, it is useful to brush your hands off, or ground the energy by touching wood or the ground, or wash your hands under cool running water.
UNRUFFLING AND GROUNDING
A lot of energy flows through the field in a healthy person. Where there are problems, that flow is impeded. Congestion may build and ultimately there is a reduction in usable energy in the field. The following grounding and unruffling exercises supports and increases the flow of energy through the field. These exercises are done in pairs with one person receiving as the other works.
- The receiver stands balanced over his/her feet with arms hanging at the sides. To demonstrate an effect of the upcoming work, the receiver is asked to say the alphabet A through J out loud and note the tone of voice.
- The active partner then touches one of the receiver’s feet and imagines it growing roots into the earth; this may take 5 to 30 seconds. Then touch the other foot and repeat this. Then hold both feet and imagine roots.
Then ask the receiver to say just the first few letters of the alphabet again. Note the tone of voice. Switch roles and repeat the exercise. After both partners have been receivers, take a few minutes to discuss the experience.
Grounding is an invitation to the spirit to be fully present in the body and it invites more energy to flow in through the field as it supports the normal flow of energy out through the feet. Signs of a relaxation response are evident with changes in the voice, breathing and easing of tension in the face.
- After the discussion on grounding, then do a minute of light unruffling: using long, gentle and rhythmic strokes downward from head to toe and a few inches off the skin. This hand movement is supported by visualization of light coming in through the crown of the head and flowing down through the body/field. Again touch the feet and imagine roots.
Feelings of relaxation in the receiver usually increase.
- Change roles and repeat the exercise. After both partners have worked and received work, take some time to discuss the experience.
Note: this exercise is brief and best done with the receiver either standing or lying on a table because the receiver’s awareness of relaxation increases significantly in these positions as the work proceeds.
This exercise is done in pairs with one person working, while the other receives. The receiver sits on a chair or stool with feet on the floor and hands separated and resting on the thighs.
The active participant stands behind the receiver and gently places hands on the receiver’s shoulders. The hands should not be heavy, and may cup the edges of the shoulders rather than rest downward on the shoulders. The practitioner closes his/her eyes and focuses on breathing: following the breath through inhale and exhale. Attention is then turned to recognizing that it is an honor to work with the receiver and that entering the treatment is entering sacred space.
After a brief time, the practitioner steps away and roles are reversed as the exercise is repeated. When both have had a chance to work and to receive, time is provided for a brief discussion.
The Heart Chakra is a major energy center that influences the circulatory, respiratory and immune systems as well as the upper chest, arms and hands. As the practitioner moves into a very deep state of peace while gently holding the receiver’s heart, the energy field shifts toward better order. (3) One of the following hand positions may be used: a) holding the receiver’s hand, b) placing a hand on the back between the shoulder blades over the heart, or c) holding the heart in a sandwich with one hand at the front and the other at the back.
UNRUFFLING TO DECONGEST A PROBLEM SITE
Downward unruffling combined with grounding helps reduce energy build-up over problem sites. Other kinds of unruffling (4) that are very effective for pain and swelling include unruffling the edge of the congestion and/or drawing energy directly off of the site.
Finding the edge exercise. A simple exercise that brings awareness of edges in the field is for a person to place a hand about two feet above his/her thigh with the palm facing the thigh. Slowly start to move the hand down toward the thigh and note places where the field is clearly felt.
When there is a problem site with significantly congested energy, it is possible to find the edge of it and unruffle either downward or outward at that edge. (5) Combining this with visualizing the congested energy either moving down into the ground or disappearing into the air will move this congestion out of the field. Then follow this with gentle downward unruffling and grounding.
Hand-on and hand-off decongesting. A site where there is swelling and pain is often warmer than the surrounding area. Use the back of the hand to check for heat as it is more sensitive than the palm. Then, either pull energy off perpendicularly or use a hand-on, hand-off movement to dissipate energetic congestion and reduce the heat at the site. Place a hand on the area (as long as the skin is not broken) and allow the heat from that area to come into the first layer of tissue in the hand; then take the hand away and shake the heat off. Repeat this movement for a minute or more and then check the temperature again with the back of the hand. If the area is still warm, repeat the work. This hand-on, hand-off form of unruffling removes congested energy and takes heat and swelling down very quickly.
ENDING THE TREATMENT
The Therapeutic Touch treatment is generally brief with most treatments being between five and ten minutes long. Seldom does a treatment go for as long as twenty minutes. Recognize that the TT treatment starts a move toward greater order and then trust the field to continue the process.
The practitioner’s level of centering begins to lighten as the treatment approaches an end. When the question, “I wonder if I should stop now?” arises, it is definitely time to finish the treatment.
Ideally, the receiver should rest after the treatment for twenty minutes or more.
A SIMPLE TREATMENT
The Therapeutic Touch treatment is a conversation with the energy field of the receiver.
Centering is both the key and the essence of the treatment. Awareness of breath brings a person into present time. Recognizing that it is an honor to work with the receiver increases connection and compassion. Deepening the state of peace sets up a resonance affect that helps the receiver to relax as it also supports the energy field’s move to greater order.
Centering deepens as the treatment progresses and begins to lighten as the time for ending the session approaches. Experienced practitioners recognize that centering alone changes the fields of both practitioner and receiver; indeed a treatment may be done simply by centering with a focus of respect and compassion for the receiver.
After consciously entering the centered state, gently unruffle and ground the field. (6) Once again, gently unruffle and ground the field and this time notice any areas that feel different in the field. This kind of assessment is ongoing throughout the treatment.
Return to these areas to do more unruffling, either downward or outward to decongest these areas. Always follow this with downward unruffling combined with visualizations of light flowing downward through the field and brightening it to increase energy flow. At the end of each unruffling pass, support the grounding.
Pause to do heart support. Then unruffle, access and ground again.
Always use soft hand movements, and generally keep the hands moving, except for heart support and grounding. Notice the receiver’s breathing, facial relaxation and level of comfort throughout the treatment.
Finish the treatment with grounding and allow the receiver to rest for twenty minutes.
Brief and gentle Therapeutic Touch treatments done even by novices effectively increase the receiver’s comfort and support healing.
- My background in teaching Therapeutic Touch, until my move to California in August 2000, includes:
- Teaching TT at the University of Western Ontario in the Faculty of Continuing Education 1994-2000
- Teaching in UWO’s Regional Palliative Care Level II Institute 1996-2000
- Training nurses and palliative care staff at Four Counties Regional Hospital, Newbury, ON
Founding the London Volunteer TT Hospital Team, which sees patients in ICU, CCU and UWO’s Transplant Unit, as well as in regular hospital units.
- Giving TT presentations to veterinary students at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph in 1999
- Training veterinarians in private practice, and animal owners in the use of the work.
- Barbara Janelle, “Teaching Therapeutic Touch over Time,” Presentation and Conference Paper to the Ontario Therapeutic Touch Teachers Cooperative, Toronto, ON (October 31, 1997)
- Barbara Janelle, “Heart Support,” In Touch, Vol. XII, No. 3, August, 2000, also in Embodiment of Spirit: Learning Through Therapeutic Touch and Interspecies Communication, Self-published, Kitchener, ON: 2003.
- Janelle, “Unruffling Action,” In Touch, Vol. XIII, No. 3, Autumn 2001, also in Embodiment of Spirit: Learning Through Therapeutic Touch and Interspecies Communication
- Janelle, “Working With the Edge: Scanning and Unruffling,” In Touch, The Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario), Vol. VIII, No. 2, June, 1996, also in Our Healing Power: Therapeutic Touch for Humans and Animals, Self-published, Kitchener, ON: 1999
- Janelle, “Preparing the Field for Assessment,” In Touch, The Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario), Vol. VIII, No. 3., September 1996, also in Our Healing Power: Therapeutic Touch for Humans and Animals
Dolores Krieger, The Therapeutic Touch: How to Use Your Hands to Help or Heal, Prentice-Hall Press, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1979
Dolores Krieger, Accepting Your Power to Heal: The Personal Practice of Therapeutic Touch, Bear & Co., Santa Fe, NM: 1993
Janet Macrae, Therapeutic Touch: A Practical Guide, Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1987, 1996
Barbara Janelle, Our Healing Power: Therapeutic Touch for Humans and Animals, Self-published, Kitchener, ON: 1999
Barbara Janelle, Embodiment of Spirit: Learning Through Therapeutic Touch and Interspecies Communication, Self-published, Kitchener, ON: 2003.