It’s hard to overstate the role that Tellington TTouch has played in Dr. Cecilia Wendler’s life, not only personally, but professionally in being able to help introduce this healing modality to health care professionals worldwide.
Around 1996, she took the four-day training of Tellington TTouch for humans taught by its founder, Dr. Tellington-Jones. At the time, Dr. Wendler worked as a registered nurse in a surgical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. “I thought the modality might be useful for patients there,” she said.
As a result of that experience, she proceeded to write her doctoral dissertation at the University of Colorado on caring touch, outlining a definition of caring touch that had not been present in nursing literature. She later collaborated with Dr. Tellington-Jones in writing a TTouch text for health care professionals that is still used today. It provides guidance in offering TTouch in the acute-care setting and includes chapters contributed by colleagues worldwide on applying TTouch in physical therapy, occupational therapy and addiction recovery.
After learning TTouch, Dr. Wendler returned to patients at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and found subtle ways to introduce TTouch during her regular nursing duties. Sometimes she would apply the gentle circles with her hands while washing them, helping them sit up in bed or while spending time with them bedside.
“I used it in a lot of situations to help people feel more connected to their healing bodies and also to be more alert, because sometimes they are sleepy recovering from the meds,” Dr. Wendler said. “You just help them be more in the present moment.
“I could see that it made a profound difference — different things in different ways for different patients. That’s when I began to get interested in the role of human touch in caring, from a nursing lens.”
She also brought the technique back to support her colleagues, her fellow nurses. “I see nurses on their feet, sometimes walking six to 10 miles a day. They’re exhausted at the end of a 12-hour shift. So whenever I was working, people would sign up during my personal lunch break and ask me to deliver TTouch to their back or their shoulder or foot, whatever was hurting on them on that particular night. They were always thrilled to see me coming into work, because they knew they could receive some treatment.”
Her anecdotal research on Tellington TTouch used in a health care setting was published through the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.
“The intention behind Tellington Touch,” she said, “is to say hello to the cells and help them remember their perfection. Linda talks about awakening the energy inherent in every cell, for the cell’s use. You are respecting the sleeping, sometimes hidden, sometimes dormant, ability of the cell itself to be energetic and whole.”
Dr. Wendler currently is director of Nursing Research and Academic Partnerships at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois.
“As a researcher now, no longer providing direct patient care, I want to involve nurses,” she said. “Once they experience the intervention themselves, it’s going to be much easier for me to deliver the intervention to their patients. So I will probably do something intentional to introduce interested nurses to Tellington Touch.”
She’s interested in learning how much application of Tellington Touch is required to relieve stress and anxiety and restore optimal sleep and eating patterns for nurses who work long 12-hour shifts.
“There are a thousand questions I have about how this approach can help, because as a rule nurses lead pretty unhealthy lives,” she said. “It’s part of the nature of the beast. We eat poorly, we don’t exercise, we don’t sleep well. One of the things we don’t know is the correct dose of Tellington TTouch to bring us back to balance.”
She learned Tellington TTouch when her two sons were pre-teens. “One of the things I loved about Tellington TTouch is that my learning it and practicing it gave me an opportunity to provide human caring touch to my own sons at a time when boys and young men withdraw from their mothers. Both of them loved to experience Tellington Touch. Even today, as young men, they invite that kind of touch.
“It’s another way to communicate caring. Even when my kids were sullen and wanted to spend all of their time in their bedrooms, they would still allow me that access to them and give them an intentional opportunity to care for them in a way that nobody else could.”
Dr. Wendler says some of her best experiences with TTouch have been self-administered.
“Linda says some of the most powerful TTouch you give is the TTouch you give yourself,” she said. “She always encourages TTouch practitioners to do TTouch on themselves. My favorite is the Heart Hug, where you put your hands on your heart and do slow circles and a quarter when you are anxious.
“As a former critical care nurse and former Army officer, I don’t get anxious very much, but I do not like turbulence during airplane flights, especially when I am flying to Linda’s house, which happens to be in Hawaii, over all of that ocean. When I get anxious or sleepless, I will do the Heart Hugs to calm myself. They are very powerful. They help to stop that flow of adrenalin and panic and help me feel grounded and in control again. They help me feel comforted.”