Thoughts on Non-Linear Therapeutic Touch

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First Published In Touch, Vol. IX, no. 2, June 1997

In Ontario, Levels 1, 2 and 3 encompass basic procedures and understanding of Therapeutic Touch. Level 1 introduces centering, assessment, unruffling, visualisation (grounding), ending–some of the primary steps of TT. In addition, the option of doing localised, as well as full physical field treatments, is presented. Once a person is able to assess the field and its response to work, conscious direction of energy and increased use of visualisation are introduced in the 2nd level. A general introduction to the major chakras is given in Level 2 and expanded upon in level 3. Deeper centering and assessment skills and the recognition of the development of personal styles of doing TT (within the formal framework of Therapeutic Touch) are developed within this level too.

Centering–The Essential Step

Centering is always an essential part of doing Therapeutic Touch. Not only does it enable the practitioner to assess and monitor the field (take in information), but most importantly, the deep quiet and peace of the practitioner’s centering affect the receiver’s field through the aspect of resonance. This is the most profound and the most effective tool that we use in TT. In presenting the following material it is to be understood that centering is always present and affecting the receiver’s field.

Variations in Using TT

At the very basic levels 1, 2 and 3, we recognise and accept a number of variations from the standard treatment pattern. These include localised treatments, short treatments, treatment of acute situations, and visualised treatments

Localised Treatments. We may use localised treatments for conditions like cuts, short-term swelling, poison ivy, toothaches, and sinus problems. These treatments may or may not involve formal assessment. A toothache may require careful assessment, while a minute’s unruffling on a child’s bruised knee without precise assessment may be all that is needed to stop the pain and swelling, to speed healing. A dog owner may, without assessment, gently unruffle a rash site on the animal suffering from a flea allergy condition. This 30-second treatment to relieve itching can stop a dog from scratching itself immediately, and reduce skin damage.Flea allergy is often the result of poor nutrition. Change of food and full TT treatments can support the animal’s full recovery.

Short Treatments. The age or condition of the receiver may dictate simpler or abbreviated treatment. When working with a baby, we may do little or no formal assessment, but instead only use unruffling and grounding for the minute or two of the treatment. This is true too when working with someone who is very ill and/or very frail. The field in these instances can only take delicate work for a very short period of time, so we choose the procedures that are most helpful to the person at that moment.

Using TT in Acute Pain Situations. In acute pain conditions, it may be more important to bring a degree of comfort quickly than to start with a formal assessment. For example, an injured horse or one that is colicking may start to thrash about and further hurt itself. So it is more important to use unruffling and grounding visualisation quickly to reduce pain, to establish a level of relaxation, than it is to start with a careful assessment. Once the animal is quiet and more comfortable, a deeper assessment and treatment can proceed.

Visualised Treatments. Long-distance Therapeutic Touch is very effective, even though the practitioner is not physically present with the receiver, nor able to use hands to assist in the treatment. The intent to support better health and the use of visualisation, that are so important in all TT treatments, are the tools of long-distance TT.

This approach may be used even in the presence of the receiver. A case in point occurred last month in the final session of my Level 3 class. A woman in the class had a migraine headache accompanied by nausea. Rather than use physical unruffling (which, even done lightly, can be too much for someone in this condition to accept), I chose to work with visualisation. Another student in the class placed her hands on the woman’s shoulders, while I held her feet and used grounding visualisation to augment the flow through the field. Then, maintaining these positions, we visualised a joint treatment on the woman. At the end of the five-minute treatment, the woman’s nausea was gone and the headache was significantly reduced.

In my experience, visualised treatments are generally safer in treating conditions where TT hand movements might be too much for the field. I use visualised TT on patients with severe head injuries, for example.

Non-Linear Therapeutic Touch

Linear Therapeutic Touch is an ordered-stage treatment with assessment followed by modulation of the field. Non-linear Therapeutic Touch involves the use of steps in different order, according to what the situation and the field require. Several of the examples given above involve non-linear Therapeutic Touch: we may go directly to unruffling without formally assessing in the case of short treatments or acute pain situations. However, even here the practitioner still takes in information about the field: assesses on a rudimentary level.

Assessment and Unruffling. In “Preparing the Field for Assessment,” I described the use of initial unruffling to help get a more accurate assessment. We recognise that it is possible to assess and get a “picture” of the field and then to immediately assess again, and get another, fuller, and more accurate sense of the field. This happens because our assessing movements done in a centered state begin to change the field. In doing TT, we often find discrepancies in the field that were not evident upon initial assessment but which become apparent as the treatment proceeds to “uncover” them. By clearing slightly before assessing, I get more information about the field sooner; so my work is more efficient.

Phrases like “preparing the field” and terms like “uncover” and “siphon” are words that I choose to try to describe my experiences in working with TT.

Unruffling and Visualised Grounding. When I first learned to do Therapeutic Touch many years ago, the linear procedure was to visualise grounding in the final stage of the treatment, after assessing, unruffling, directing energy. After many years of following this procedure, I finally recognised that the receiver could be made more comfortable and the treatment could progress more easily by visualising energy flow out through the feet early and many times through the treatment.

I am currently experimenting with establishing the flow of energy in the lower part of the field, before treating the upper part. After assessing, which gives me a sense of energetic activity, rhythm in the field, I unruffle the lower part of the field thoroughly to establish a pattern of clear flow and connection into the ground. Only after this do I unruffle from the upper part of the physical field down and out through the tailbone, legs and feet. In generic terms, I see this as getting the “plumbing” set up before clearing the field! Receivers seem to remain considerably more comfortable throughout the treatment as result of this approach.

Unruffling and Energy Exchange. Most of the time, I clear an area thoroughly before offering energy. However, in situations where congestion does not dissipate to unruffling, I may use a brief energy exchange to establish a channel of flow through the blocked area. Any energy exchange is followed with a light unruffling to prevent congestion from excess energy.


These are a few examples of non-linear Therapeutic Touch that have grown out of my own experience and into my own personal style of doing TT. I believe these different orderings of steps still fit well within the Therapeutic Touch model. I hope that my describing them will encourage others to share what they have learned in using TT over many years too.

These thoughts about using Therapeutic Touch procedures refer in large part to elementary approaches. The truth is that while unruffling, visualising grounding, and energy modulation appear to be the primary way of working with the field, they are not. The most effective and profound work in TT occurs as a result of centering and communicating with the field and with the being in ways that go beyond words and physical actions.

Barbara Janelle. “Preparing the Field for Assessment.”First published In Touch, Vol. VIII, no. 3, September 1996