Therapeutic Touch Guidelines

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

Published in The British Columbia Therapeutic Touch Network Newsletter, September 2006
In my twenty two years of use of Therapeutic Touch with humans and animals, I have found this work to be very safe for both the receiver and the practitioner. Our guidelines in Therapeutic Touch are generally to work downward through the field, to keep our hands moving and to work gently. To these I would add a few more suggestions to the practitioner:


      – Maintain a good and preferably deep level of centering and monitor this throughout the treatment
      – build pauses into the treatment and use these to ground the field and deepen your centering
      – keep treatments short, generally under 15 minutes (with 5 to 10 minutes average)
      – Trust the field’s wisdom and work with it. Offer energy to the field rather than strongly directing energy, imposing too much, or insisting on sending particular colours into the field
      – treat the entire field and leave no part out deliberately
      – be alert to any indications from the field that it is blocking treatment or that the treatment is finishing
      – give the recipient a 20 minute rest period after the session.

Working Downward. Dora Kunz recommended working downward through the field as a general rule. Minor variations to this include the brief use of horizontal or perpendicular unruffling to break up congestion, and slight upward unruffling of congestion to the nearest joint then drawing it outward and grounding it e.g., in the cases of gout in humans (drawing congestion out through the ankle) and founder in horses (drawing congestion out through the fetlock joint). (1)

Keeping the Hands Moving. Some energy is always coming out of the hands and to hold them still in the field for too long can build congestion in the field. Exceptions to the rule of keeping hands moving include:

      – periods of allowing the adrenals or Splenic chakra to draw energy as these sites can take in a lot of energy and use it immediately
      – during Heart Support the hands may hold the heart area while the practitioner deepens centering (2)
      – supporting the rhythmic function of the Sacral, Solar Plexus and Heart Chakra with and upward facing palm that cups the chakra while the practitioner deepens center

Working Gently. While this involves what the practitioner does with the hands, more importantly, it refers to intention and the recognition that we work with the field. We never use force either with intention or with hand movements. Hand movements mean nothing if not done within the framework of centering and partnership with the field. Some suggestions are:

      – imagine the hands to be like feathers supporting the flow of energy through the field, and visualize energy/light gently flowing and suffusing the field with brightness
      – find a speed and rhythm for unruffling that is acceptable to the field e.g., not unruffling too quickly near the site of pain as it can feel sharp to the receiver. (3) Along with this is the constant reminder that the practitioner is always in conversation with the field and “listening” to how the field is accepting work, as well as following suggestions from the field.
      – work at a distance appropriate to the situation e.g., do not work too close to a burn because the heat from the hands may make the receiver more uncomfortable.(4) Intuitive information received from the field can help identify how and where to work.

Maintain and Monitor Centering. Centering and compassion are the keys to Therapeutic Touch. Centering causes a resonance effect in the receiver that shifts the field toward better function. (5) The practitioner’s primary job is to enter the treatment well-centered, deepen that state during the treatment and monitor it for the entire treatment because the field gives clues as to how it is accepting the treatment and when to end the treatment. Centering is the most important and effective thing that a practitioner does in the TT treatment.

There are a range of things that can pull a practitioner off center (6), and two of the major ones are worrying about whether the treatment is being done right and holding back as a result of this. When the practitioner trusts the safety of TT and follows these guidelines, these issues do not arise.

Building Pauses into the Treatment. The field needs time to process work; to keep working continuously can overwhelm the field causing it to block and end the treatment. The practitioner can use pauses to support grounding and to deepen centering. Grounding supports the flow of energy through the field, prevents energy build-up, and increases connection/integration through the field. All of these help the field to use and distribute incoming energy effectively. Deepening center more than anything else that the practitioner does, endorses the fields move toward greater function and wholeness (7)

Keep Treatments Short. Most Therapeutic Touch treatments last between 5 and 12 minutes with the rare one going beyond that to 15 to 18 minutes. To continue to work when the field is no longer able to process the work overwhelms it, and results in the field blocking the treatment. Blocking stresses the field and quickly reduces the effect of the treatment. With some conditions like impaction colic in horses, it is very useful to do 5 minute (or less) treatments every 40 to 60 minutes to keep the receiver comfortable and support the field’s return to order.

Work with the Field. The field knows how to function properly; it knows how much and where energy is needed and how to deliver it there. (8) Too much energy directed into the field too rapidly will result in the build-up of congestion which impedes the functioning of the field. The field may not want or be able to use a particular colour/vibration chosen and sent by the practitioner and will try to change it to one that is more appropriate. If the practitioner persists in sending blue into the field for example, when it needs yellow, the field will start to block the treatment.

A far more effective way than directing energy into the field is to offer it to the field through the hands, with the use of a ball of light, with whole field unruffling, or by reminding the field that it can draw what it needs from the universe of light/energy in which it exists. (9) Offering generic white or rainbow-coloured light and saying to the field, “Take what you need, in the colour you need it,” is very easily accepted by the field.

A primary rule for the practitioner is to trust the field’s wisdom.

Treat the Entire Field. In an entire field treatment, it is inappropriate to deliberately leave out a part of the body like the head as some practitioners do because they are afraid of dealing with it. The head is a delicate electrical system and we have a guideline that says keep the hands moving around the head. To deliberately avoid including it in the treatment will make the recipient “spacey” and uncomfortable. In the case of head injuries, gentle visualised treatments may be the route to take, along with consciously entering into the partnership with the field and other sources of wisdom and support. (10)

Intention is critical in TT. Localized treatments, even though they are focused on a small area, shift the entire field because the practitioner does not limit the effect of treatment to just a small area.

Be Aware of Blocking by the Field and/or of Signals to End the Treatment. One of the most important training exercises for practitioners to experience is Dolores Krieger’s “Human Barrier Game.” (11) If the receiver really does not want TT or has some fear around it, (e.g., concern that the practitioner is keeping her hands too still or too long around the head), or if the field is not able to accept the work being delivered by the practitioner (e.g., too strongly directing energy into the field or insisting on directing a certain colour), or if the treatment is going on too long, the field will block the treatment.

The most consistent and apparent clue that this is happening is a significant reduction in the practitioner’s ability to hold center. Other clues in the practitioner may include feelings of frustration and visualizations of barriers from the field. Agitation, breath-holding and stiffening may also be observed in the receiver.

The primary effects of blocking are:

      a) to impede the functioning of the field because energy that it needs is going into maintaining a barrier


      b) to cause discomfort in the receiver; if the practitioner persists in the treatment, the receiver may develop a headache

The practitioner may pause and deepen center as a way of re-establishing trust with the field/receiver, but if this is not quickly effective, the treatment must be ended immediately before it stresses the receiver.

Signals that the treatment is nearing a finish are reduction in centering, visualizations of finishing (e.g. a door closing), etc. NHPAI/TTNO teacher Diane May says, “If you find yourself asking the question, “I wonder if I should finish the treatment” then do so.

A Twenty Minute Rest Period after Treatment. If the receiver starts talking immediately or gets up and returns to normal action, the field loses an important opportunity to process and the treatment will be less effective than if a rest period follows it. TTNO Practitioner Diane Lindsay was the first to bring attention to the wave of energy that moves through the field at just about the twenty-minute mark in the rest period. With the rest period included, a full TT treatment is about 30 minutes in length, give or take 5 minutes.

Situations in which I would suggest caution in the use of Therapeutic Touch and recommend brief treatments, deep centering, long pauses, heart support, grounding, and visualized treatments are:

      – in cases of severe depression because this condition has tentacles and can resonate with similar feelings in the practitioner making him/her feel uncomfortable
      – treatments with frail elderly or very young humans and animals, and very ill or injured humans and animals are best kept quite short because these fields can only process so much at one time. A good approach for ill animals and people is to do 1 to 5 minute treatments repeated at 15 to 60 minute intervals in lieu of a single longer treatment.
      – with head injuries, deep centering and visualized treatments are probably the gentlest approach


When these guidelines are followed, treatments are effective and well received. The most important considerations for the practitioner are maintaining and monitoring centering, working with the field and following its suggestions, working lightly and gently both with hands and imagery, making good use of grounding and pauses, and keeping treatments shorter rather than longer.


Barbara Janelle, “On Grounding Visualisations,” In Touch, Vol. Ix, No. 4, November 1997; also in Our Healing Power, self-published, London, ON: 1999, 2nd Edition 2004

Janelle, “Heart Support,” In Touch, Vol. XII, No. 3, August 2000; also in Embodiment Of Spirit, Self-published, Kitchener-Waterloo, ON: 2003

Janelle, “Unruffling Action,” In Touch, Vol. XIII, No. 3, Autumn 2001; also in Embodiment Of Spirit, Self-published, Kitchener-Waterloo, ON: 2003

Janelle, “Unruffling Action” and also “Working with the Edge: Scanning and Unruffling,” In Touch, Vol. VIII, No. 2, June 1996

Paul T. Hageman, “Therapeutic Touch: Current Realities – Future Imperatives,” Vision & Reality Conference Papers, Toronto, ON: November 1995

Janelle, “Centering,” Cooperative Connection, Vol. XVII, No. 3, Summer 1996

Janelle, “On Wholeness,” In Touch, Vol. X, No. 1, February 1998; also in Our Healing Power

Janelle, “The Field Leads the Dance,” In Touch, Vol. X, No. 4, November 1998; also in Our Healing Power

Janelle, “Energizing the Field,” Our Healing Power

Janelle, “The Therapeutic Touch Partnership,” Embodiment of Spirit

Dolores Krieger, Accepting Your Power to Heal, Bear & Co., Santa Fe, NM: 1993, pp118-130

BJ/April 2006