By Barbara Janelle M.A.

In Touch, Vol. XII, No. 2,May, 2000

Unruffling is one of the major steps in a Therapeutic Touch treatment. Some years ago, I took Dolores Krieger’s course on Teaching Therapeutic Touch and one of the questions she raised wa.s, “What does unruffling do?” In this article, I will offer some thoughts on this.


My own experience combined with ideas developed through discussion in Krieger’s course and indicate that unruffling does many things. The following list offers a few effects and there are probably many more.


a) Supports energy flow through the field

b) Addresses balance, symmetry and wholeness in the field; supports reorganisation in the field

c) Loosens and dissipates blocked energy

d) Energizes the field

e) Prepares the field for energy modulation

f) Prevents build-up during energising

g) Facilitates the absorption of energy

h) Gives information about the responsiveness of the field

i) Leads to more accurate assessment

j) Relaxes the recipient


Unruffling moves energy. One of the ideas that we work with in Therapeutic Touch is that in a healthy field, energy enters, moves through and leaves the field. In my own work, I have found that supporting the flow out of the field is critical because it allows more energy to enter and move through. If energy does not exit well, there can be a build-up in the lower part of the field that can make a person uncomfortable. (1) To demonstrate this I teach the following exercise early in my Level 1 course:

Step 1 – Unruffle down your arm to the hand. Make a few passes, then wait a minute and notice how your hand on the unruffled arm feels.

Step 2 – Unruffle down your arm, through your hand, and visualise the energy flowing out of the hand and into the ground. Wait a minute and notice how your hand on the unruffled arm feels now.


It is quite likely that on the first unruffling which was done by moving energy into the hand, that the hand felt heavy, tingling, pulsing, and warm. After the second unruffling combined with a visualisation to support flow through the arm, out of the hand and into the ground, it is likely that your hand feels lighter and more comfortable. (2) This exercise also illustrates the principle that energy follows intention: the unruffling movements are the same to an observer, but the visualisation (intention) causes a different effect.

The point of this exercise is to emphasize the importance of not simply moving blocked energy to somewhere else in the field but to truly support flow through the field. As energy flows out, more can come in and flow through. The flow mechanism is strengthened and the field brightens.



In early assessment, I look for general patterns within the field, as well as obvious localised discrepancies. Some common general patterns are:

a) more energy in the upper part of the physical field than in the lower part, or vice versa

b) more energy in the front than in the back, or vice versa

c) more energy on one side than the other

d) more energy on one diagonal than the other

e) a field that is sluggish throughout

f) a very deficient field that draws a lot of energy from my hands

g) a field that feels vibrant, balanced and symmetrical

Unruffling helps to redistribute energy so that the field moves toward greater balance and symmetry. Unruffling and grounding also increase energetic connection and flow leading to greater integration in the field.


From an energetic standpoint, physical problems are primarily the result of an energy deficit. Congested energy reduces flow through the field and adversely affects field function. Also, congested energy is largely unusable energy; my sense is that it is of a lower vibration than what is needed and used by the field. Moving congestion out of the field through unruffling and grounding (3), makes it possible for lighter, more vibrant energy to come in and be used by the field to support health.


Unruffling is a form of energy modulation. The field can be visualised as a flowing river of light. We live in a sea of energy and with unruffling, we invite more light, bright and gentle, to come into the field through the crown chakra and contribute to the flow.

In addition to drawing more energy into the field, unruffling, combined with grounding, also prepares the way for additional energy modulation procedures. Establishing a good flow “sets up the plumbing” so that subsequent energy directed into or offered to the field has a route of movement and excess energy will not build-up. (5)

During the offering or directing of energy into the field, the use of light unruffling strokes supports movement through the field and facilitates the field’s absorption of energy.


Initial unruffling of the field before assessment leads to easier and more accurate earlier evaluation. (4) Monitoring the field’s response to unruffling after assessment gives information about the field’s speed of response and need for additional work.


Ultimately, unruffling makes the receiver feel more comfortable as blocked energy is dissipated. Long, downward strokes through the field are very relaxing as well. So unruffling is one of the primary activities leading to the relaxation response elicited by the TT treatment.


These effects show how important unruffling is in a Therapeutic Touch treatment.

Combined with visualisations to support flow through the system, unruffling leads to greater order and better function in the field. Unruffling is critical to increasing the amount of energy and facilitating the field’s absorption of it. Most important, unruffling helps to establish a relaxation response in the recipient.


1 See “On Grounding Visualisations,” In Touch, Vol.IX, No. 4, November 1997

2 Dora Kunz encouraged practitioners to rub recipient’s feet to support energetic flow outward through the feet. Cathleen Fanslow-Brunjes and many teachers in Ontario also rub the palms of the hands to stimulate energy flow out of the hands as well.

3 Another visualisation that I will often use instead of grounding is to imagine congested energy being drawn out away from the physical field (e.g., from a sore shoulder out through the shoulder joint) and evaporating or transforming into brighter light.

4 See “Preparing the Field for Assessment,” In Touch, The Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario), Vol.VIII, No. 3., September 1996

5 A lot more is happening in the field than this linear depiction would suggest. Because we do not have language nor the complete knowledge of field function, we make do with metaphorical descriptions that are probably inadequate and possibly inaccurate. But it is the best we can do for now.

Published: In Touch, Vol. XII, No. 2, May, 2000