Tools to Empower Therapeutic Touch Recipients

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First Published In Touch, Vol. VI, no. 2, June 1994

The patient plays a major role in the healing process. Indeed, the word “patient” is totally inappropriate to the image of a person moving toward health. It implies one who endures calmly while others assume responsibility for his or her health. The Therapeutic Touch practitioner can offer a variety of tools that, with minimal training, the receiver can use to help him/herself.

It is important that the offer of these techniques is not done in any way that suggests the receiver “should” use them. “Shoulds” involve judgment. “If you don’t do as I tell you, you do something wrong!” Many will close down to this kind of pressure. Others will be resentful, and yet others may feel guilty if they do not follow your directions. I offer tools. I am not upset if the person chooses not to use them.

I offer a range of tools to people who ask, “What can I do for myself?” Usually the question is, “What do I do if I wake in pain in the night?” The health problem and the person’s awareness guide my answer, although there are a number of standard things that I teach the receiver.


I start with a Therapeutic Touch tool. Unruffling the field over the site of discomfort is easily taught in a minute or two. Years ago, a neighbor described her discomfort and lack of sleep caused by frequent “Charlie horses” in her lower leg. I showed her how to unruffle and she later told me, with great delight, how this would stop cramping immediately when she used it.

Recently I taught this to a friend and her husband in a restaurant. The week before, he had broken the fibula in his left leg. Three weeks later, I met my friend and she described how both she and her husband unruffled the field over the break daily. To their surprise and that of their doctor, the bone was healed four weeks from the time of the break. The husband only needed one week of physiotherapy and shortly afterward was driving his car.

I spent less than 15 minutes with them in the restaurant, yet they were able to take in enough information to make a significant difference in the speed of recovery.

I often suggest that in unruffling, the person see their hands as feathers or water gently soothing the injured area. If it seems appropriate, I will recommend that they visualize the area turning a beautiful blue colour as they work.

Unruffling is a tool that can be an immediate response to pain. While I speak of working from a sense of quiet, the person is already focused on the feeling. This is a form of centering and the inner quiet grows as they monitor the change in sensation.

Contact Pain Relief

Another tool that is simple to teach and use is contact pain relief. The hand makes contact with the site of pain, either directly on the skin or through the clothing and the pain is drawn away by the hand and “flicked off.” This is repeated several times. Relief usually occurs in less than four minutes. The warmth of the hand in contact with the site is noticeable and very soothing. It is also an indication of energy being directed into the site, albeit unconsciously. It is useful to wash the hands after this.


If the person is open to this idea, I will offer one or two simple procedures, which can be expanded later when the effectiveness of this tool is recognized. Often the visualization has to do with breathing in light and directing it to the site of the problem, and/or releasing pain on exhalation. The instruction is to do this with normal breathing, because forced breathing will only tense the body and reduce the effectiveness.

I encourage the individual to develop his/her own pictures and understandings in using visualization. This too brings the person into a more active healing role.

Increasing Water Intake

Water is essential to body functioning. A well functioning digestive tract is often the key to preventing, as well as healing, systemic problems; and water is a primary ingredient in proper digestion and elimination. I inquire about water intake and almost always recommend an increase. Even in the case of broken bones, water helps the body heal and eliminate damaged cells faster.

Acupressure Points in the Ears

From my experience as a TTEAM practitioner (Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method), I know how great a support regular massage of the ears, hands or feet can be to health. Each of these parts has several hundred acupressure points that affect the entire body. The simplest and smallest parts to work are the ears, and the procedure can be taught quickly.

Massaging the entire ear in an upward direction helps the whole body to work better. The line of points (Triple Heater Meridian) around the entire base of the ear affect digestion, reproduction, circulation and respiration. Working the ears also brings a major endorphin release to reduce or eliminate pain.

In the case of accidents, exhaustion, heart attack, etc., working the ears can bring a human or animal out of shock quickly and keep them out of shock until medical assistance arrives. For chronic problems, digestive, circulatory, reproductive, etc., regular work on both ears (2 minutes per ear each day) can dramatically improve health.


Laughter is a major stimulant to the immune system, as well as doing a hundred other good things for the body, emotions, mind and spirit as Dr. Annette Goodheart describes in her work. It is not enough to talk about laughter. I often describe something funny that I’ve seen. Even a moment of lightness changes the entire energy field.


These are simple tools. Any one of them can be taught in minutes and they enable an individual to take a positive and active role in the healing process. By offering these simple procedures, we, as Therapeutic Touch practitioners, can support and empower the people we treat.


Tellington-Jones, Linda with Sybil Taylor. The Tellington Touch. New York: Viking, 1992.