Tellington Touch

SA writes: ”Back in the mid 90’s, I purchased a book/tape program for working with pets called “The Tellington Touch” or T-touch. I thought it was a form of massage and I used it to tame my cat. The materials for the program do not mention energy, are mostly filled with testimonials, but do say that the method activates unused neural pathways in the brain. The creator of the program, Linda Tellington-Jones, trained with physicist Dr. Feldenkrais in the 70’s and used his method to develop her own. There are now T-touch practitioners worldwide, especially working with horses. Is T-touch New Age? And if so, what does that mean for me and my cat?”

Tellington Touch (TTouch) is most definitely associated with the New Age. As you state in your e-mail, the creator of ttouch, Linda Tellington-Jones trained with the founder of another New Age healing practice known as the Feldenkrais Method , and incorporated his methods into a type of massage that she has used with great success on animals.

Even though TTouch literature does not talk about manipulating energy, I have come across some dubious descriptions that may or may not be in keeping with the creator’s vision.

For instance, this description from the University of Minnesota turned up in a James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) newsletter, sent in by P.Z. Meyers, Ph.D., Division of Science & Math, at the University of Minnesota.

The foundation of the TTouch method is based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body. The intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence — a little like ‘turning on the electric lights of the body.’ The TTouch is done on the entire body, and each circular TTouch is complete within itself. Therefore it is not necessary to understand anatomy to be successful in speeding up the healing of injuries or ailments, or changing undesirable habits or behavior.”

There is such a thing as cellular intelligence, a theory described by Georgetown neurobiologist Candace Pert Ph.D. as a kind of “information transfer system” that occurs at the cellular level throughout the body and coordinates physiology, behavior and emotion. But Dr. Pert gives no indication that this transfer is activated by massage therapy.

In a 2002 article appearing in the Holistic Nursing Practice journal, author M. Cecilia Wendler describes TTouch as a form of healing communication that consists of four specific components.

“The first is a mindful presence, a state of mental openness and preparedness that is similar to the process of centering.  . . .Once centered, the practitioner, using the hands and fingers in a systematic, often circular fashion and using slight to moderate pressure, delivers touch to a particular portion of the body. . .  Finally, during the delivery of ttouch, the practitioner uses breath control and awareness to remain focused.”

She goes on to state that there is no manipulation of muscle or bones, or of a universal life energy, “but rather a respect and recognition of the cells’ powerful ability to release “memories of pain and fear” and to “remember the cells’ inherent perfection.”

I’m not a scientist, but I question whether or not human body cells have these capabilities. My suspicions seem to be at least partially confirmed by the fact that even after 15 years of use, there is nothing but anecdotal evidence to prove the effectiveness of ttouch.

Wendler’s descriptions also highlight several very New Agey concepts that are involved in ttouch, such as centering and breath control, both of which are commonly used methods of inducing altered states of consciousness.

This is probably why the Pontifical document, Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life, associates “various kinds of ‘bodywork’” such as TTouch with the New Age.

In Section 2.2.3, we read: “Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractics, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of ‘bodywork’ (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch, etc.), meditation and visualization, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colors, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programs and self-help groups. The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy.”

I would not worry about having used TTouch at some time in your life on your pet because I see no overt occultism present in this practice (such as it would be in methods that call upon “universal life forces” and “energies” for healing).

My dear cats love to be massaged and I’ve never used TTouch on them. My only guide is my love and affection for them! I’m sure that’ll work just as good for you too!

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