A VERY SHORT-COURSE ON THERAPEUTIC TOUCH FOR ANIMAL OWNERS
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
For a dozen years I have been an instructor at Camp Gone to the Dogs in Vermont. I give lectures on Tellington TTouch, lead a workshop on “Celebrating Our Animals Lives” for people whose animals have died, and see owners and their dogs for private consultations. In the consultations, I offer Tellington TTouch, Therapeutic Touch (Krieger-Kunz Method), and Animal Communication. Most consultations are a half-hour in length, and because I want to give people skills they can continue to use with their animals, I try to find ways of teaching simple, effective procedures in a very brief period of time.
I often see dogs with movement problems, such as arthritis and those recovering from cruciate ligament surgery. Occasionally there will be dogs with non-contagious health issues like Addison’s disease and other immune system difficulties. Depending on the individual case, I may choose to teach the owner Tellington TTouch or Therapeutic Touch.
ON TEACHING THERAPEUTIC TOUCH
I have trained people in the use of 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 people hoping to take TT into medical settings, need these skills and the confidence that can only come with using TT over a period of time. (2)
However, people can learn basic centering and simple unruffling and grounding procedures quickly and use them effectively. This article describes what I teach in less than a half-hour to dog owners at Camp Gone to the Dogs.
INFORMATION ON THERAPEUTIC TOUCH
Basic background information on Therapeutic Touch, followed by some experiential exercises, can be given in a few minutes and lays the foundation for the practical work.
Research Base: Therapeutic Touch is an energetic discipline that supports health and is used in a growing number of hospital and palliative care facilities throughout North America. Over 30 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 continually 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 (either a few inches off or in contact with the skin) disperse congestion and increase the flow of energy that enters through the head, moves downward through the field and out the feet (grounding). Energy modulation procedures bring even more energy into the field. The treatment is brief, usually ending in two to twenty minutes.
Centering and Unruffling (combined with grounding) will be 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 breath. Pause. Then try to sense a pulse somewhere in your body.
- 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 is often felt as heat, pressure or tingling in the hands.
UNRUFFLING AND GROUNDING
Good energetic flow through the field is critical. The following grounding and unruffling exercise supports and increases the flow of energy through the field.
1. Work in pairs. One person stands and notices how he/she feels and what the connection with the ground is like. Then the second person touches one of the partner’s feet and imagines it growing roots into the earth; hold this for 10 to 30 seconds. Then ask what the partner notices. Most will recognize a change in the feeling of connection with the ground and sometimes a shift through that side of the body.
2. Then touch both feet and visualize roots and ask again what is noticed. Most people notice a significant felt-sense difference in themselves.
3. Follow this with a light unruffling. Gentle, long, and rhythmic smoothing non-contact strokes from head to toe increase the amount of energy/light that comes in through the head and down through the body/field. The feeling of relaxation is immediate and very noticeable.
- Roles are reversed and the exercise is repeated. The person learns that a felt-sense change can occur in a few seconds of visualization and light unruffling movements
WORKING WITH THE ANIMAL
With the dog lying down, start TT by touching each paw, one at a time, and visualizing it growing roots into the ground; and grounding the tail as well. Then follow this with a stroke (either in contact or non-contact) from the head down the neck, chest, forelegs to the front paws, visualizing energy coming in through the head moving through those parts of the body and out through the feet.
The next stroke is from the head, down the spine and hindlegs, and supports energy flow through those parts and out through the hind feet. Another stroke is from the head down the spine and out through the tail. These strokes down the spine support energetic flow through the main torso of the body.
By this time the dog is usually sighing and possibly even asleep, providing confirmation for the owner about the effectiveness of the work.
DECONGESTING A PROBLEM SITE
Once this initial work is done, go to the problem site and note its temperature. In situations where the skin is unbroken check for temperature differences using a slow stroke with the back of the hand in contact with the dog’s body (the back of the hand is more sensitive to temperature differences than the palm). Often the problem site on the dog will be noticeably warmer than the surrounding area. Be sure to check the temperature of the area again after TT is done.
Then do a hand-on, hand-off movement to dissipate energetic congestion and reduce the heat at the site. As the hand is placed on the area, heat comes 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. In my experience, this hand-on, hand-off form of unruffling will take heat and swelling down very quickly (usually in one to seven minutes).
In any cases where the circulatory, respiratory or immune system is involved, Heart Support is important because the Heart Chakra largely controls these systems. Gently cradle the area of the animal’s heart with your hands and see the beauty in the animal. This will both shift the entire field toward better function, and also deepen the bond between human and animal. (3)
ENDING THE TREATMENT
The treatment finishes with another set of unruffling and grounding strokes, head to all four feet and tail. The animal should rest after the treatment for five to 30 minutes. After the rest period watch the dog stand up and walk around. In the majority of cases, the animal moves more fluidly and any warm swelling is noticeably reduced.
This brief TT training gives owners simple effective ways of helping their animals. (4)
I advise that owners use TT when they are alone and relaxed, as this will help them to be more centered and focused on what they are doing. I also recommend that the treatments be short: two to five minutes in length, and that they be done once or twice a day depending on the severity of the problem and the response to the work.
Owners of dogs, cats, horses and other animals can also use this short-course on TT. With birds, I recommend that the work be done hands off, with the treatment consisting of three to five gentle head-to-tail and head-to-toe unruffling strokes and grounding visualizations.
Brief, quiet, centered and gentle Therapeutic Touch treatments done even by novices effectively increase an animal’s comfort and supporting its 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.
- “Teaching Therapeutic Touch over Time,” Presentation and Conference Paper to the Ontario Therapeutic Touch Teachers Cooperative, Toronto, ON (October 31, 1997)
- Indeed, I will often teach Heart Support outside of the TT treatment because of it significance in supporting both health and relationship.
- I will give this short-course over the telephone as well. In this situation, I may have the person do the grounding and unruffling exercise on herself. When working with the animal, the person may work either in contact or with the hands 4 to 8 inches off the skin.