Since about 1985 we have utilized the Tellington-Touch Equine Awareness Method (TTEAM) in the care and treatment of animals in a veterinary practice. TTEAM is the acronym for a system of relating to animals developed in the 1970s by Linda Tellington-Jones. First developed as a way to train horses, TTEAM has proved to be equally effective with other species. TTEAM is not training as it is traditionally
Much of the knowledge base of TTEAM is derived from the oral tradition or the science of various disciplines related to animals. It does not ignore great bodies of accumulated wisdom. It is a non-traditional approach to doing traditional things — and doing them easier and better. Tellington-Jones’ contribution is to combine knowledge from her vast experience with traditional approaches, from diverse outside sources,
The central premise unifying Tellington-Jones’ work is that human-animal intercommunication can be raised to levels not generally achieved. The first assumption of this premise is that the human can become a far more sensitive, informed observer of the animal’s body
Our experience supports the many anecdotes which indicate that communication empowered by TTEAM enables the trainer or therapist to provide stimulation which can alter the animal in diverse ways. TTEAM enables us to forestall instinctual or learned responses which lead the animal to squander resources in maladaptive ways. It helps us redirect and reeducate mindbody processes toward behavior or functions suited to the here-and-now challenges it faces. This fine tuning of function and the accompanying mental contentment yields an animal which learns, copes, performs and heals better.
TEAM employs touch and exercises designed with the specific goal of making the animal aware of responses and actions which are faulty. To explain why this is valuable requires a simplified “black box” review of mind-body learning. The reactions which an animal habitually produces in response to various agents (environmental events, bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions) are largely automatic. They are
The human who seeks to produce change in animals must honor the learning sequence: 1) create a calm attentive mental state; 2) make the animal aware of the present, undesired response; 3) if necessary, present other options with clarity and 4) reinforce the natural tendency to select the healthy option.
Moshe Feldenkrais, working with humans, determined that non-habitual sensory inputs from well chosen touch and movement would create awareness of habitual responses and thus enable the subject to develop new responses. Linda Tellington-Jones, after study with Feldenkrais, took this insight as a starting point and developed the touch and exercises of TTEAM for animals. One important difference is that Feldenkrais focused on impacting relearning in the nervous system while Linda’s TTouch/TTEAM techniques appear to extend the effect by directly affecting functioning on the local or cellular level.
The exact mechanism(s) of action whereby TTEAMTTouch achieves results still remain to be explained, but on an empirical basis we have found that using these techniques the worker can direct and manipulate awareness, providing inputs which activate the learning sequence and permit the animal to change.
The various touch and exercise techniques are well described in TTEAM books, periodicals, video tapes and training seminars. These sources are available as references, but brief comment is appropriate. TTEAM is not a variation of massage. Massage involves friction
Central to TTEAM is a unique circular TTouch. Tellington-Jones describes it thus: “Visualize a clockface. Place the fingertips at 6 o’clock. Move your fingers with the skin/tissue under them in a clockwise circle — from 6 to 9, 12 & 3 o’clock. Go past 6 o’clock and very slowly release between 7 and 8. Move the hand and repeat.” Pressure, speed, size of circle and configuration of the hand all are important and are
Reasonably correct technique is important in basic work. More precision is required as one advances since subtle differences change the quality of response. Tellington-Jones has selected and refined TTEAM techniques rather precisely during years of careful experimentation.
Providing comfort is not a matter of softhearted sentimentality. The goal is to minimize counterproductive stress responses. TTEAM is useful in allowing us to treat without creating iatrogenic stress. Indeed, with TTEAM we have a potent method which permits handling to reduce existing stress rather than add more stress. The animal freed from stress can respond appropriately to us and to its disease; it can participate fully in its own healing.
TTEAM has reduced the need for chemical restraint drugs for minor procedures. These drugs are safe, effective and often very useful but several inconveniences attend their use. Most require time to take effect and require time for recovery. They tend to alter the patients condition and responses in ways which are inconvenient and confuse the clinical picture. At times they are contraindicated; there is always a slight chance of an adverse reaction. They generally dull learning processes so that it is difficult to train an animal to accept treatments which must be repetitive.
With TTEAM we can reduce most animals fears and induce cooperation which permits completion of nonpainful or minimally painful procedures in a straightforward manner. The calming is usually accomplished by the technician in the time it takes the veterinarian to
During use of TTEAM to facilitate procedures we experienced a subjective effect which requires explanation. The clinician is the interface between medicine and the patient. In this role we must stay in touch with two streams of information. One stream is from the accumulated medical wisdom; the other is from the patient and consists of the cues it sends about its condition and the effects of our efforts. For us TTEAM facilitates this mental process. This is experienced as a greater wealth and clarity of signals (signs, symptoms) which can be subjectively appreciated. The “clinical findings” are richer and more clear. Paradoxically, awareness and recall of stored scientific knowledge is better and making logical associations seems easier. We consulted Tellington-Jones and learned that similar subjective experience is common and that limited trials show humans have changed EEG patterns while doing TTEAM. These changes indicate increased activity of
We have not reduced reliance on drugs, surgery or other conventional treatment. Neither have we lapsed into a sentimental or mystical view of human-animal relating. The fact remains that with TTEAM we can accomplish things that we could not accomplish before we used TTEAM. To a degree not experienced before, TTEAM gives the ability to effectively convey our healing intent to the animal and suggest to it ways in
Albert Schweitzer observed: “Medicine is not only a science, but also the art of letting our individuality interact with the individuality of the patient.” TTEAM brings scientifically derived techniques to that art. These techniques give the interaction far more power; they also make the art more teachable, more reproducible.
Full descriptions of our use of TTEAM in care and therapy must await another occasion. The following examples will illustrate the range of these uses. Listing a use does not imply that TTEAM is the only treatment used: it means we have found TTEAM beneficial and include it along with other measures in the treatment plan.
Overarching its various specific uses is TTEAM’s usefulness in transforming the human approach to animals. In our culture stances of aggression rather than those of helping are the dominant and accepted mode. Remarking on the ubiquity of violence, Solzhenitsyn
Modern medicine is a wondrous technology for healing. The potency of this high technology and the demands it makes on those of us who use it can lead us astray. We can forget that animals are not objects, that patients are not broken machines which can be “fixed.” Hippocrates of Cos reminds us: “The natural healing force within each patient is the greatest force in getting well.”
Degrees, Boards and speciality notwithstanding, we can still only promote conditions which favor healing; the patient alone can heal. Medicine can become so hi-tech–low-touch that we forget the patient and the indispensable contribution he must make to his own health.
We cannot explain fully why the gentle TTEAM maneuvers have effects so different from other touch such as petting, stroking, rubbing and massage. After comparisons done on hundreds of animals, we simply say TTEAM is more effective — to a completely higher order.
TTEAM provides hi-tech touch of such potency that small doses do much good. Thus, it is practical even under hectic conditions to return a traditional method to the art of medicine. In this scientific new guise, touch has therapeutic applications well beyond previous assumptions.
This article first appeared in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science Vol. 11 No. 3 - May/June 1991 - reprinted with permission. Slightly revised/updated May 2001.
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Tellington Touch Every Animal Method In The Vet Practice - by Daniela Zurr, DVM – Germany
Tteam And Veterinary Medicine In Vienna, Austria - by Martina Simmerer, DVM – Austria , 1992-02-10
A Peaceful Option - by Sandra Vahsholtz DVM , 1997-08-10
How A Danish Veterinarian Applies Tteam To Horses - by Rikke Schultz, DVM , 1998-04-10
A Veterinarian Defines Tteam™ - by Tom Beckett, DVM and Marnie Reeder , 2001-05-18
A Veterinarian Encounters Tteam - by Tom Beckett, DVM , 2001-05-18
Use Of Tteam In A Veterinary Practice: An Overview - by Tom Beckett, DVM & Margaret Reeder, BS , 2001-05-19