Teaching Therapeutic Touch Over Time

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

TTNO Teachers’ Cooperative Annual Meeting

November, 1997

Teaching each level of Therapeutic Touch over a period of many weeks offers many advantages. In presenting this paper, I wish to encourage other teachers to try this approach, with the hope that eventually it will become the standard course procedure. I believe that by teaching TT over time we will produce better-trained students, practitioners and future teachers.

Goals in Teaching Therapeutic Touch

Therapeutic Touch is a complementary health procedure that views living things as energy fields existing within a much larger field, that of the Earth. The Therapeutic Touch intervention requires that the person giving the treatment be centered, able to assess the energetic condition of the field, and respond to the field’s needs with appropriate and timely modulating procedures.

In teaching this work, we have the following as our goals:

1. Students be able to center easily and quickly, and maintain centering for increasing

amounts of time over the course of training

2. Students be able to assess and monitor the field both by using their hands as sensors and with intuitive abilities

3. Students be able to respond to the field’s needs and directions with appropriate and timely modulating procedures

4. Students be involved in ongoing self-exploration, examination of motives and self-growth

5. Students bring the aspects of centering, being compassionate, and being aware of themselves and others into their daily lives

6. Students have an understanding of the history of Therapeutic Touch, the accepted framework and steps of TT, and the published research on Therapeutic Touch

7. Students have the confidence in themselves and their use of TT so that their awareness increases, their treatments become more effective, and eventually they may add to the understanding within the discipline of TT and support the growing use of TT in the world community.

In examining these objectives within the framework of Levels 1, 2 and 3, the following goals are appropriate:

Level 1:

-developing the ability to center

-developing the ability to sense the field and assess its condition

-developing skill in basic modulating procedures: unruffling, grounding, and supporting within a framework of compassion and focus on wholeness

-developing basic visualization abilities

-developing familiarity with the basic history of TT and some of the published research

-starting on a course of self-examination and self-growth; examining issues around attachment to outcome, need to make everything better, etc.

Level 2:

-building the habit of centering,

-increasing assessment skills

-increasing modulating abilities (including directed energy transfer)

-increasing the use of visualization techniques

-increasing knowledge of published research, familiarity with names and work of TT practitioners, teachers, writers

-increasing self-awareness of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state, and consciously choosing to live more compassionately

Level 3:

-growing in self-confidence and trust of intuitive abilities

-increasing assessment skills to include intuitive as well as hand-sensing skills

-developing more effective and more subtle ways of interacting with the field

-conversing with the field through visualisation

-broadening awareness of the history of energetic understanding and approaches to healing

-increasingly living the tenets of TT: centering, awareness, compassion, support of all life

The Process of Learning Therapeutic Touch

The most important part of learning and doing TT is developing the abilities to center easily and quickly and to maintain center for longer and longer periods of time. This is a process that requires repeated experience over time until a habit of centering is built.

Assessment abilities take time to develop, starting first with sensitizing the hands, building experience and trust in self, and increasing sensitivity and awareness to include many kinds of information that the field offers. This too takes time and experience to develop.

Modulating skills, including unruffling, visualization, and conscious energy transfer all take time and practice to develop. Growth in confidence both in self and in Therapeutic Touch is based on experience; again something that occurs over time.

Teaching Schedules

I find that by teaching each level over a period of eight weeks, meeting once a week for two hours, I am able to present a large range of experiences and provide the opportunity for processing experience through discussion and question and answer periods. Some years ago, I had about 50 hours of training with educator Sandra Seagal, who emphasized the importance of verbal processing in learning, as well as the opportunities to see, hear and do. Seagal was instrumental in developing the Headstart Programs in the United States. Teaching over time also allows the use of many energetic exercises, in contrast to a one-day course where only one or two such exercises can be used. Any more would stress a student’s field.

Questionnaire Results Summary

Students in my classes say they prefer Therapeutic Touch courses to be taught over time. In a questionnaire given to 191 students over a period of 2 1/2 years, 91% said they preferred a course schedule of 2 or 2 1/2 hour sessions over 8 weeks (16 to 20 hours total). This allows “Time for review, integration and practice.” 95% said 1 and 2 day courses were the least preferred way of learning TT because they were “Too intense and do not cover material adequately,” nor do they allow “enough time for review, integration and practice.” One student asked, ” Is it possible to cover the course in one day?!!”

By learning TT over a period of many weeks for each level, students begin to see dramatic changes in their own lives: they are calmer, happier and more empowered. The questionnaire results give long lists of effective uses of Therapeutic Touch clearly showing how between-class practice and

experiences build students’ confidence in Therapeutic Touch.

We want students to use TT, to build it into their daily lives, and to live the tenets of Therapeutic

Touch. Responses to the questionnaire indicate that this is happening when TT is taught over time.

Feasibility of Teaching TT Over Time

I have taught Therapeutic Touch for 9 years. In my early years of teaching, I experimented with different formats:

– teaching basic TT in a half-day session to groups of 2 or 3 people,

– two day sessions with groups of 12 to 15 people

– sessions over four weeks with groups of 5 to 10 people.

As I followed up on students, I found that those I had taught in half-day and weekend courses, were not sure of what they were doing with TT and most were not using it. (This is something that does need formal study: is there any variation in the continued use of TT a year after taking a course among those who learn TT in a day, a weekend, or over several weeks?)

I also discovered that people seemed to learn more when they had an opportunity between class sessions to practice on friends or family members. Class discussions deepened and challenged me to grow in my own understanding, as well as to change and expand my teaching program. My early four 2-hours sessions for Level 1 (8 hours) quickly expanded to six 2 1/2 hour classes (15 hours) and when I started teaching at the University of Western Ontario, they expanded to eight 2 hour class periods (16 hours) for each TT level.

As I recognized the effectiveness of teaching this work over several sessions, I made the decision to teach the three levels only in this way. In spite of pressure to offer 1 or 2 day courses, I continued to teach the work over time. When I applied to teach TT at UWO, the fact that I was teaching in multi-sessions seemed to weigh heavily in the university’s decision to have me offer the course there. In other words, because it was something taught over time and learned through experience, TT had more validity than something that was only offered in a 1-day session.

A feature of this age that we live in seems to be the demand for instant and superficial knowledge and answers. By teaching TT over time, I feel that students develop deeper understanding, as well as increased TT skills. Questionnaire results certainly indicate that there are changes in thinking and behaviour in the people who have taken these extended courses.

Economic Considerations

I am aware that one of the whispered criticisms of teaching over time has to do with its impact on income. I made the decision years ago that earning money from teaching took second place to my focus on teaching well. I have never regretted this. When one does something well and with joy, everything else follows. I love teaching and I earn enough to pay for the courses that I take, the books that I want and some things that bring beauty into my life.

As Shakti Gawain says in her latest book on finding prosperity, prosperity has little to do with money and much to do with happiness. All the money in the world will not make someone happy (indeed it will very likely create unhappiness). Prosperity has to do with enjoying what one is doing, and thus enjoying life.

I believe a new economic system is developing that is based on doing things that bring us joy. By doing this, the energy that enables us to live well follows. That energy takes many forms, synchronicity, goodwill, happiness, peace, creativity, fun, and yes, money too. Think of it in TT terms. By offering energetic support to another, we enable more energy to come into us. By supporting another’s health, our own wellness increases. By giving freely, we receive more than we could possibly have imagined or planned.


I have written of my own experience of teaching Therapeutic Touch over time. I have found in doing this that people learn more, develop greater understanding and skill, and truly begin to live TT. If we really want Therapeutic Touch to be fully recognized and accepted by the medical community, we must train people well. In teaching this work over time, we come closer to accomplishing this.

In teaching each level over many sessions, we can present more ideas, have more opportunities for experiential exercises, and build practice and verbal processing into a course. I believe that people who learn in this fashion are much more likely to make Therapeutic Touch a normal part of their lives, and therefore, will continue to use it years after taking a course.

I hope that this paper will encourage other teachers of Therapeutic Touch to develop courses over time. Eventually, I would like to see 1-day seminars being regarded as introductions to the discipline, not formal training in it. With this will come a fuller recognition that taking TT levels is only partial training, and that learning TT is an ongoing and unending process. This is life work.



TT Teachers can obtain the full paper, course schedules, questionnaire and results from Barbara Janelle.