By Barbara Janelle M.A.

In Touch, Vol. XIV, No. 4, Winter (December) 2002

The Therapeutic Touch treatment addresses the whole being. This basic understanding is often forgotten by practitioners who believe they are addressing only the physical aspect of the person, or in some cases, primarily the emotional aspect of the person. Not only is it impossible to single out an aspect of the receiver and work with only that, but experienced practitioners generally recognize that the field /being determines what is addressed in a treatment and any changes that occur.


Humans have categorized reality into manageable parts in an attempt to understand and explore it and this has resulted in very distorted perception and understanding. For example, the definition of separate aspects of a human being – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual – can lead to inaccuracies and very confused thinking. A prime example of this is the belief commonly held in allopathic medicine that only the physical aspect of the person is real and affected by medical intervention.

In Therapeutic Touch, we are challenged to view reality differently and recognize that separation does not exist and that wholeness is truth.


The Therapeutic Touch treatment can cause a wide range of changes in the receiver. This is why the work is so powerful and why full outcome is difficult to predict. Visible changes such as slowing and deepening respiration, relaxation in the face, hands, shoulders and other parts of the body, and facial flush are common. Frequently, swelling visually diminishes, wounds show healing, and movement becomes more fluid. Many, many more observable changes occur too.

Also common are shifts in perception of self and life. Examples of this abound. Recipients report that they feel happier and more able to cope with life. Recently, a woman told me, “I always feel more grounded, more connected to the Earth and more in my body after Therapeutic Touch.” Another reported that the TT treatment provides an opportunity for her to process feelings about her life and her health.

During a treatment a few years ago, a young woman with pancreatic cancer heard in her mind the phrase, “Let go and trust,” repeated again and again. It was so powerful that she drew it in a lovely mandala. I asked what this meant to her and she replied, “I have never trusted life.” After her death, her husband and friends told me that this TT treatment experience enabled her to die peacefully.

These are powerful effects of the Therapeutic Touch Treatment. Usually, the practitioner has little or no awareness of the full impact of the treatment.



The act of a TT practitioner deepening into peace and shifting attention and intention toward another person affects the practitioner as well as the receiver, and the impact is immediate. Breathing slows and deepens in each as the practitioner centers. The awareness of connection grows in both too. Even in this entry phase information about each other comes in full flowing insights. Changes in attitude – reduction of fear and stress, and increase in trust come to both.

Improvement in health occurs in the practitioner too. Quinn and Strelkauskas’s pilot study on immune responses indicates that immune function is enhanced in both practitioner and receiver. (1) It is common for practitioners to notice that their own skin wounds heal while they are participating in a TT treatment. They are happier too and more trusting of life.

Dolores Krieger has examined how the use of TT affects the practitioner. In her earlier writings on Therapeutic Touch, she commented on her students becoming “significantly more intuitive, altruistic and articulate. Their thinking becomes noticeably more focused and coherent. Sensitivity to others as well as personal psychic sensitivity deepens.” (2) She continues to ask TT practitioners to examine these changes in themselves. (3)

My personal experience as a practitioner is that I can no longer feel isolated from a person with whom I have interacted in a TT treatment. The TT treatment always allows me to see another person with kinder eyes and softer heart; respect and trust grow. And I feel part of something bigger than myself. I own my connection with nature, feel a part of the Earth and know that I am a member of the human community.


Wide-ranging and profound changes occur in the Therapeutic Touch treatment. The power of Therapeutic Touch is that the treatment affects the whole being of the receiver, and indeed the whole being of the practitioner. Remembering this at the beginning of a TT treatment leads to the release of a need for visible outcome and an increased trust in a universal order and compassion.


  1. Janet Quinn and Anthony J. Streskauskas, “Psychoimmunologic effects of Therapeutic Touch on Practitioners and Recently Bereaved Recipients: A Pilot Study,” Advanced Nursing Science, Vol. 15, No. 4, 1993
  2. Dolores Krieger, Living the Therapeutic Touch – Healing as a Lifestyle, Dodd, Mead & Co., New York: 1987, p 53.
  3. Dolores Krieger, Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook – Ventures in Transpersonal Healing, Bear & Co. Publishing, Santa Fe, NM: 1997.


BJ/OCT 2002