Therapeutic Touch: A Conversation with the Field

By Barbara Janelle M.A., NHPAI & TTNO Recognized Teacher and Practitioner

Some years ago, to encourage discussion among practitioners and students, TTNO (1) Teacher Donna Logan Van Vliet raised the question, “Could someone without hands learn to do Therapeutic Touch?” The response was “Yes! The hands are simply a metaphor for intention; and it is intention and centering that affect the field.”

The language of Therapeutic Touch is centering and intention imbedded in visualization. This language is used by both the practitioner and the field.

The Practitioner’s Language

Centering. Therapeutic Touch practitioners give the greatest information to the field by centering. The field can change dramatically in response to centering through a resonance effect. Deepening center is the most effective way to deepen the recipient’s relaxation response.

Visualization. While intention may be explored with respect to the practitioner’s motives in doing Therapeutic Touch, the focus of this article is on intention imbedded in visualization as language in the treatment. Visualization is a valuable tool for making suggestions to the field about brightening, increasing energy flow, opening blocked areas, etc. A common visualization approach is imaging/feeling/hearing colour moving through the field.

Thinking in positive terms automatically creates a picture (often accompanied with feelings, sounds, colours, etc.) that the field gets. Visualizations of negative ideas do not work because they are often muddied and have the positive image within them. For example, it is easy to image a field brightening, but difficult to create an image of a field becoming not so dark.

Two-way Information Flows

While novice practitioners believe that they are working on the field, more experienced practitioners recognize that the field not only responds to centering and visualization but also gives information in return. Indeed, the field can override the practitioner’s images and even block them.

For example, if a practitioner decides to send green light into the field, it may proceed easily if that frequency/vibration is useful to the field. If that colour is not needed by the field, the practitioner will have trouble maintaining the visualization of green. Instead, another colour may come in, one that the field needs more. If the practitioner persists in sending green against the wishes/needs of the field, the practitioner’s centering will weaken as well. The practitioner will find it more difficult to sense the field and work with its flow quality.

The weakening of centering is the clearest signal that the field is blocking treatment (2), and if the practitioner persists in doing something that the field does not need or cannot use, the practitioner will not be able to hold center. The receiver may become noticeably stressed.

This can also occur when a TT treatment is too long or when the receiver truly does not want a treatment. As most practitioners know the weakening of centering is a signal to finish the treatment.

Visualizing color can either be done by directing a chosen color into the field and noting the field’s response, or by using white or rainbow-colored light and watching how the field uses it. For example, as bright light is gently drawn through the field, the practitioner may notice through intuitive scanning, that it shifts color: perhaps blue in one area, yellow in another, pastel green in another.

The Field Gives Information Too

The field is energy and information. It has order to it, and consciousness; it is intelligent.

The field may give information that leads to the development of a visualization by the practitioner. For example, the practitioner may feel a stickiness or sluggishness in the field and have the sense of it being like molasses. In response, the practitioner may visualize water flowing through the field, breaking up the stickiness and washing it away. In return the field, accepts and develops this image, and becomes more fluid and grows brighter.

Acknowledging the Field

The practitioner may encounter resistance to change in the field. Deepening center often shifts this, but if it persists there is information in the field that needs to be heard. The practitioner can silently ask the field, “What is this about?” Sometimes just asking the question, acknowledges the field enough to elicit a positive energetic response. Other times the response is accompanied with images, words, feelings etc.

The Therapeutic Touch treatment is not a venue for a psychic reading. Practitioners who use it as such are usually seeking attention for themselves and their “remarkable abilities” rather than being in service to the receiver. TTNO Teacher Carolyn Buchanan says that simply letting the information pass through helps the field release it.

If there is a sense that the receiver needs to receive it, the practitioner can silently mirror the information back to the field. Usually when this is done, the receiver has some conscious insight into the situation within 24 hours. Please note that all of the TT practitioner’s work is done silently.

Shifting To Partnership

As a Therapeutic Touch Practitioner gains experience, the treatment becomes a conversation with the field. The practitioner directs less and suggests more. The response of the field both to hand and intuitive assessment is monitored carefully and constantly. The practitioner grows to trust and listen to the wisdom of the field. With experience, the TT practitioner learns that the treatment as a profoundly amazing partnership with the field.


1. Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario) Canada

2. To develop greater awareness of this, I highly recommend that students and practitioners play the Human Barrier Game described in Dolores Krieger’s Accepting Your Power to Heal­: The Personal Practice of Therapeutic Touch, Bear & Co., Santa Fe, NM: 1993.

Barbara Janelle/July 2005