Preparing the Field for Assessment

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First published In Touch, Vol. VIII, no. 3, September 1996

During a group discussion with Dora Kunz in an Ontario TT Retreat in the late 1980’s, the suggestion was made to begin TT work with unruffling to “prepare the field” for assessment and treatment. However, very few people use this approach and most Ontario teachers still train students to assess immediately after centering. Treatment is to be based in large measure on this very early assessment.

The Difficulties with Early Assessment

Ideally, an assessment clearly identifies the quality and location of energetic discrepancies within the field. However, the physical edge is often quiet, static and fairly uniform during an early scan. Fine distinctions in the field are missed because they are hidden under this stagnant “cap.” Occasionally even large discrepancies do not become apparent until some movement in the physical edge has been initiated either by the scan itself or by unruffling. A second scan done immediately after the first gives more information, but scanning and scanning again can make the receiver uncomfortable.

Even in a localised treatment, a beginning scan may yield little information. Only after unruffling is a more accurate reading of the energetic discrepancy available.

In addition, starting a TT session with an assessment can be too abrupt and invasive an entry into the field. I have often observed both humans and animals holding their breath or breathing in a shallow way as a practitioner’s hands come in close (usually around the head, face or neck), and scan slowly as a first step. The receiver’s body becomes rigid and the eyes stop blinking. Horses will raise their heads and stiffen their necks, entering the first phase of the flight response. These physical responses to fear cause the field to become very still and the physical edge to be even more undifferentiated, so the practitioner may have trouble sensing anything at all.

The practitioner may hold his/her breath either by mirroring the receiver or by concentrating too hard on trying to feel the field. This, in turn, decreases the level of centering and increases the recipient’s anxiety.

Advantages of Initially Unruffling the Field

An initial unruffling disturbs the “cap” at the physical edge and brings more activity and differentiation so that the scan that follows garners more information. In addition, the initial unruffling itself can give a broad sense of the field and indicate its responsiveness. For example, the field of a very recent injury may begin to lighten during this unruffling while the field of a long term, more serious condition may become more pronounced. Adding a brief touch of a recipient’s feet at the end of the unruffling can give the practitioner an initial sense of the level of grounding.

The word “cap” seems to imply a comparison of the energy field with a multi-layered onion and this may be too simplistic a metaphor. The field is multi-dimensional, so the apparent sense of uncovering something that lies at the surface is misleading. Each movement that a hand makes in treatment is like a wave that goes through the field.

An initial unruffling, done lightly with long, flowing downward strokes from head to feet, provides a more soothing entry into the field and establishes a degree of relaxation early in the session. Beginning with unruffling also establishes the pattern of hand movement for a first time recipient and paves the way for the subsequent assessment. Starting with unruffling makes the recipient more comfortable and helps develop trust between the receiver and the practitioner.

Unruffling requires movement on the part of the practitioner and when done with gentle, flowing strokes deepens the practitioner’s breathing and centering. These strokes may involve touch on a human receiver’s shoulders and in the case of dogs, cats, horses and other animals, a full-body hands-on stroking may be used.

At this moment in my work, I believe that density changes within the field and that a movement may more quickly affect one part of the field than another. These parts are not discrete but are all connected, so that an unruffling movement seemingly at the edge of the physical field disturbs that surface but also moves deeper into the physical, as well as throughout all levels of the field. While it may impact as a strong wave in one area, it may be felt as a soft almost imperceptible ripple in another. This disturbance of the field with an initial light unruffling is often enough to make differences more noticeable in the assessment that follows.


I could not remember who had spoken of this at the first Ontario TT Retreat, but Merlin Homer reminded me that the idea and phrase was initially presented by Gwen Wyatt Ph.D., professor of nursing, Michigan State University. –BJ 2/99