Manual Thermal Evaluation (MTE) is an evaluation technique I learned in a Functional Methods training and in the Visceral Manipulation™ (VM-5) course (both based on osteopathic evaluations and techniques). I use MTE with every single client, so I thought I’d take a brief moment to tell you what I’m doing during MTE. It is much more complex than what I’m presenting here, but it’s important to give you a general overview, so you don’t think I’m doing something witchy…not that there is anything wrong with that ;-).

How it looks: During MTE my hands move over the area of the body where I received a general listening. I move my hand about 4 cm and then 30 cm away from the body in a steady controlled fashion.

Why: I’m looking for a shift in temperature and then evaluating the size, shape and qualities of the thermal shift. These variations give me information about functional, emotional or structural areas of imbalance. It’s a way of listening to the body.-Only the tissues know.-osteopathic physician, Rollin Becker

How: Temperature given off by the body is a result of a problem in the area or increased metabolic activity. An obvious example of general temperature shift in relation to metabolic activity would be temperature changes initiated by a surge in luteinizing hormone and then ovulation.

Specific areas of our hands are sensitive to picking up thermal shifts. We all have this ability to feel thermal projections, but just like a musician develops her craft over time, picking up and evaluating these thermal shifts takes practice.

A little history of thermal evaluation “This phenomenon has been recognized for thousands of years. Dr. Bruno Roche (Geneva, Switzerland) attributes the earliest known thermal evaluation to Hippocrates. He is said to have covered patients with mud, noted the places where the mud dried most rapidly and found that these were typically sites of medical problems.” Jean-Pierre Barral, D.O. in the book Manual Thermal Evaluation.

Thermal Topographic Map: After working with tens of thousands of patients and demonstrating through controlled experiments osteopathic physician Jean-Pierre Barral has developed a “topographic map” of thermal projections that can be correlated with specific physical conditions or emotional conflicts. For instance, a projection over a dysfunctional abdominal sphincter will feel different than a dysfunctional cecum, liver or ovary. The projections over an ovary during ovulation can indicate which ovary is releasing an egg. As mentioned earlier, heat is produced by high metabolic activity in an area. If heat is detected from an ovary while ovulation is NOT occurring it may indicate pelvic congestion or inflammation of that ovary. There are also combinations of heat projections and qualities of heat projections that may indicate an emotional, structural, or hormonal component.

Memory Of The Body “All pathologies of the body, past and present, are inscribed in the tissues. This inscription is often expressed thermally.”  Jean-Pierre Barral, D.O. Meaning old scar tissue, surgeries or other traumas may express through thermal projections.

The mind will use the muscles and organs


  • The body emits a slight thermal shift at the site of a problem.
  • There is nothing magical about MTE. Many controlled experiments have confirmed thermal flow and the sensitivity of the hand to pick up these shifts.
  • As the osteopathic physician, Rollin Becker stated, “Only the tissues know.”
  • Using MTE is another way of listening to the body.
  • MTE is different than what you would pick up with infrared cameras. Infrared cameras are overly sensitive to heat emitted by branches of the circulatory vessels.

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