MASSAGE AND THERAPEUTIC TOUCH
By: MARIJKE PATTERSON-ROBINSON RMT.,PhT.

For thousands of years some form of massage or laying on of hands has been used to heal or soothe the sick. One may wonder how massage and Therapeutic Touch can complement each other. From the tactile concept they are so different. Massage, meaning" to knead" is definitely a physical form of touch incorporating manipulations of the soft tissues of the body with the knowledge of anatomy and physiology of the structures. Actually massage as a healing art has existed for thousands of years in almost every culture in the world. In 1813 a college in Stockholm, Sweden offered its first massage course as part of its curriculum. Today the therapeutic value of massage is recognized both by lay practitioners and professionals. Because of its physical form and concern for treating a specific condition a therapist may forget that the body thrives to heal as a whole, incorporating body, mind and spirit along with balancing the energy pattern. Yet more than its clinical necessity for the patient touch also channels compassion and healing energy from a caring therapist and assists the relaxation response in the body.

Therapeutic Touch like massage uses the hands but does not necessarily make contact. It was developed by Dolores Krieger and Dora Kunz in 1972 as an extension of professional skills for persons in the health field. Therapeutic Touch deals with the energy, a non-physical energy which sustains all living organisms and as it has a universal source it is always present and available. In Therapeutic Touch the practitioner in a state of centeredness uses the hands 2"-6" away from the body to consciously draw upon the universal energy and direct the energy flow for healing.

What I missed when studying massage were the Therapeutic Touch assumptions - that man is an energy field and extends beyond his skin. Man and the environment are continually, simultaneously and mutually exchanging energy with each other and that there is a universal order which is innate to all energy fields. Thus keeping in mind that we extend beyond our skin, the way that we approach a client on our table to start a physical treatment becomes very important. As we approach the client and thereby enter the clients field, the effect or tone of our treatment has already begun before any physical contact has been made. Success of one's own treatment starts right there with this first assumption and in my years of practise as a registered massage therapist and medical massage instructor this knowledge was invaluable. Centering , quieting our own thoughts and feelings, focusing our own energy from within to give to another from a place of compassion and empathy is probably the most important step in Therapeutic Touch and should be equally important in massage and other health care giving professions.

With Therapeutic Touch my intuition developed more, which in doing massage, became a great asset with some difficult treatments. All too often by using intuition and doing a Therapeutic Touch assessment it helped to guide me to treatment or led me to a condition not felt by the physical assessment. This Therapeutic Touch assessment has become an adjunctive diagnostic tool in my massage practise.

There are also some conditions contra-indicated to massage therapy but have medically been proven to respond very well to Therapeutic Touch. Therapeutic Touch can be very useful for some people who do not like to be touched.

Finishing a massage treatment with Therapeutic Touch to me is of great benefit. With rhythmic and symmetric downward sweeping, the energy field is balanced, promoting further healing and giving a feeling of wholeness to the treatment.

Therapeutic Touch looks simple but is profoundly complex and should be practised with knowledge as well as compassion, love and caring. It is my hope that one day Therapeutic Touch as a medically approved adjunctive therapy, will be one of the courses taught as part of the massage curriculum. The practitioner, due to the seemingly simple aspects of changes of consciousness necessary to skillfully practise Therapeutic Touch may experience changes in the world view and perception that culminate in life-way adjustments that foster personal transformation. In short, a life of healing leads to self healing.

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