Strategies for Teaching Therapeutic Touch
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
A good and effective teacher brings joy and shares it with those who have come to learn. A teacher offers his/herself as an example and thus must model that which is taught. Dolores Krieger says that a TT teacher must teach out of his/her own experience. (1) Repeating the words and ideas of others is not sufficient; good teaching must come from the persons own exploration and understanding. Therapeutic Touch teachers must live centering and compassion and also use TT on a daily basis, even if that is simply working on themselves. How can a teacher ask others to do something that he/she is not doing first?
Teaching from a Centered State
People learn best when they are relaxed and breathing well. The teachers centered state helps to create conditions in which people can learn because centering affects not only the person doing it but all those around as well.
A teacher in a centered state is fully present, able to hear what students say, more intuitive and insightful, and able to follow inner guidance about presenting ideas and exercises. In the centered state, a teacher demonstrates presence and awareness, two very important aspects of TT.
When a teacher deepens center during a TT practicum, students become more focused and centered. In triads, the two working will become more synchronized and the treatment will flow better. This is a far more effective and gentle teaching approach than dashing up to students and saying, You are not doing it right!
Teaching with Compassion
Being centered in the heart chakra means that a teacher respects others, treats students with honour and dignity, cares about what students are feeling and experiencing, and truly values the people who come to learn. These qualities are also directed toward self as self-respect, self-kindness, and genuine humour. In being compassionate, the teacher models a way of relating to and communicating with others that is an important part of TT.
Some Suggestions for Effective Teaching
Teaching Approaches. People learn through a combination of ways: by hearing about ideas, by reading, through direct experience and through discussion. All of these have a place in teaching.
Brief lectures that present principles are important. As well, stories from the teachers own personal experience have a huge impact on those listening. It is important that any information that is given be intended to educate rather than to draw attention to the teacher. TTNO Teacher Jitka Malec gives an example of this by describing two story-telling approaches: a) I did this versus b) The Therapeutic Touch did this.
People learn more when they are moving because more brain cells are activated. People retain more information if they take notes (moving the hands), even if they never read the notes again. Experiential exercises that involve movement are very important and are the only way that students truly learn to do Therapeutic Touch. To better understand these ideas, teachers would benefit greatly from attending Brain Gym courses or reading some of the material developed in this work. (2)
Discussion of ideas and experiences is critical for processing and retaining information. Giving students even a minute or two after an exercise to talk with each other is essential to their learning. In teaching TT over time, it is useful to start a class with the questions, How have you used TT this week? Do you have any comments or questions about your experiences? This gives people a chance to discuss things and it also raises topics that can lead to developing more exercises and teaching segments.
Eye Contact, Body Language and the Energetics of Information Transfer. When students maintain eye contact with the teacher, they are getting the material. In turn, it is important that the teacher maintain eye contact with the students.
Information is given and received through the major chakras, particularly the Heart, Third Eye and Solar Plexus. Open body posture and language helps to relay information. Blocking chakras will reduce the information that is given and received by both teacher and students. Standing behind a lectern or sitting behind a desk will block the Solar Plexus, as does crossing the arms. Wearing black also impedes energy and information outflow and intake. More information is given when the teacher faces the students, rather than facing a blackboard.
Positive Language. In any verbal communication with students, positive statements are more powerful than negative ones because they give information clearly. Indeed it is very wise to develop the habit of speaking positively because it is integral to co-creating.
Engaging Discussion. An effective way to engage students in discussion is to ask a questionâ€¦and wait for up to 1 minute. People cannot stand a verbal vacuum under these circumstances. Someone will leap in with a comment, usually within 30 seconds, and others will follow.
Respect what the student says by listening and then pausing for a moment to let the impact of what is said be felt. Space must be given to truly hear another: the mind must be quiet, the listener centered.
A teacher must be honest and able to say, I dont understand what you are saying. Would you elaborate please? or I do not know that answer to that. I wonder how we can get some information on that. Presenting information in the framework that says, In my experience,â€¦ leaves room for ideas to be explored, where absolute statements tend to end discussion.
True communication is heart-centered: it occurs between equals who respect one another. Judgement closes the heart and stops communication. Deepening center and staying heart-centered (respecting, listening, holding a space for love to be present) keeps communication strong and increases the possibility for important insights to come.
Openness to Treatment by Students. A teacher who is willing to receive TT from his/her students is essentially saying, I trust my teaching. I trust TT. And I trust you. This imbues people with confidence in themselves and in the work. In addition, the teacher gets to receive TT!
Treating a teacher may be challenging initially because the student is afraid of not doing it right or being judged. If the teacher is truly open to the treatment, the student will breath and be able to center. The end results are that the students self-confidence increases as well as confidence in their ability to maintain center and do TT in difficult circumstances.
Teaching TT Over Time. In a study (3) based on 191 answered questionnaires by students who took one or more levels of Therapeutic Touch over an 8 week period per level, 91 % said that 2 to 2 1/2 hour classes once a week for eight weeks provided time for review, integration and practice. 95% said that one and two day courses not only do not allow for this – they are too intense and do not permit material to be covered adequately.
Those answering the questionnaire listed many varied situations in which they used TT and commented that it enabled them to see the effect of the work and to develop confidence in it. In addition, the respondents noted changes in their lives as a result of taking TT over time. They were centered, less stressed, more relaxed, less irritable, had greater awareness of self, surroundings, others and beauty, and felt good about being able to help themselves and others.
Centering with compassion is the essence of Therapeutic Touch. Developing the ability to center and maintain center takes time. People who learn TT over time have a much better chance of developing this skill and maintaining it.
From a teachers perspective, teaching Therapeutic Touch in a course of many sessions over several weeks:
– allows more material to be covered
– permits important points to be emphasized in several sessions
– makes it possible for teaching units to be specifically geared to students needs
– gives more opportunity for experimentation in teaching and development of exercises
– allows more time for discussion
– enables both students and teacher to learn more
Inviting Another Teacher In. Inviting another teacher in to speak gives students more information and encourages them to go on in their training. Expanding the horizon in this way satisfies an important goal of teaching.
Asking a fellow teacher or even a skilled educator from another field to attend a class as an observer can give a teacher valuable suggestions for improving teaching.
Conclusion. A good teacher models that which is being taught. Being respectful of students and self, having a willingness to engage in the development of ideas, and maintaining a habit of continually learning are all important to the way in which a teacher models skill and information.
1. TT Teachers Workshop with Dolores Krieger, Pumpkin Hollow Farm, Craryville, N.Y. (May 29-June 1, 1992)
2. Carla Hannafords Smart Moves: Why Learning is not all in Your Head, Great Ocean Publishers, Arlington, VA: 1995 is one of several books on Brain Gym that is full of valuable information
3. Barbara Janelle, Teaching Therapeutic Touch over Time, Presentation and Paper to the Therapeutic Touch Network (ON) Teachers Day, Toronto, ON, October 31, 1997