Healing Touch is an energetic healing therapy. Energy-based therapies involve a very light touch either directly on the clothed body or around the body. Healing Touch incorporates numerous techniques from a variety of sources, all with the intent of obtaining harmony and balance in the energy system. In this article, we shall discuss the concept of healing touch therapy.
Founded by registered nurse, Janet Mentgen, this specific therapeutic approach is believed to affect healing, as imbalances and disturbances in the body, mind, or spirit may slow down healing and impede flow.
The goal of healing touch (HT) work is for providers to assist in treatment by correcting deficiencies in the energy field. Thus, trained practitioners restore balance and harmony of energies for a client’s optimum health.
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Similar Types of Therapies
Therapeutic touch (TT) is a similar therapy that promotes balance and well-being and was developed by Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., RN. In TT, the practitioner’s hands usually don’t directly touch your body but hover over the body. In HT therapy practices, the same is true, but in some cases, practitioners may use direct touch.
Krieger initially demonstrated that therapeutic touch interaction could increase hemoglobin levels in recipients. This finding was “one of the first that allowed quantitative biochemical measurements in humans to detect healing energy effects.”
Some Asian approaches similarly focus on energy and maintaining a body’s harmony and equilibrium. These other modalities include acupuncture, qigong, jin shin jyutsu, and reiki.
What to Expect From a Healing Touch Session
HT is a biofield (energy field) therapy that gently induces a deep sense of calm and relaxation. Similar to the setting for a massage, it is commonly administered while the client lies on a massage table. In some locations, patients sit in a chair.
In all treatments, clients are fully clothed. Sometimes music is played. HT practitioners will always get your permission if they plan to use direct touch.
- First, during intake, you’ll be asked about symptoms and reasons for your visit.
- Second, the practitioner prepares by getting centered. The practitioner focuses on going inward and eliminating distractions. They enter what is much like a meditative state.
- Thirdly, the focus is on you and your greater good. The HT practitioner then assesses your energy field by scanning, or moving their hands over your body, to get a sense of your biofield. The practitioner experiences a variety of feelings to flag these imbalances in your body.
Techniques of Healing Touch Therapy
Once they’ve finished scanning, they will choose a technique that would most benefit them. Two techniques are used in HT, as outlined below.
The Chakras Technique
One technique involves your chakras, often called energy points in the body. The American Psychological Association dictionary defines chakra as “one of the seven energy centers in the body” in Eastern philosophy.
Using this technique, the practitioner places hands on your feet and moves up the body. They will focus on areas of stagnation or atypical energy and help to remove these energetic obstacles.
The Magnetic Passes Technique
The Magnetic Passes technique offers another option. This technique involves the practitioner’s fingers combing or brushing over the patient’s energy field. Actual physical contact is not made.
- The practitioner can focus on a particular area of discomfort or survey the whole body. Again, the purpose of this technique is to accelerate the removal of disruptions or blocks in the energy system. This will put your body into balance.
- Next, they perform a scan to be sure the energy field is restored and that a change was apparent. Ultimately, the goal is to allow healing to occur, be that in the body, mind, or spirit.
- Finally, they perform a grounding. This will help the patient receiving treatment return to an alert state.
What Healing Touch Therapy Can Help With
While more research is needed to explore the science behind HT’s efficacy—some evidence suggests HT may have promising benefits.
May Relieve Pain
Pain management in newborns poses special challenges for healthcare teams that care for these infants. A University of Cincinnati team recently published a study exploring the impact of massage and HT on neonatal pain.
The study focused on 186 infants, and 62% of them received both massage and HT. Focusing on pre- and post-therapy reactions, they found significant improvements in these infants’ heart rates. Researchers concluded that massage and HT could be useful therapies in improving comfort and reducing pain in neonates.
Recent research conducted on cancer pain relief also showed the value of HT. The study was conducted on 572 cancer patients’ pain and concluded that HT provided immediate pain relief.
May Reduce Anxiety
In another small study from a nursing school in Chester, Pennsylvania, researchers investigated if an HT session could lower anxiety in junior nursing students. The results showed a statistically significant reduction in the anxiety scores of the nurses as a result of the effects of the HT session.
Things to Consider
While research has proven that massage has healing benefits, non-contact therapies such as HT and TT are more controversial. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why or how it works. Some think it’s due to the placebo effect.
As they study more about the mechanisms that make HT effective, patient reports tell of improved quality of life. So while there isn’t much empirical evidence available yet, recent scientific studies show promise.
As there is no downside to adding this complementary treatment, it may be a valued adjunct therapy, especially for patients who are grappling with chronic pain within long-term care facilities.
Nowadays, hospitals are incorporating HT into their programs to calm and relax patients before they go in for procedures. HT is also being used for patients with anxiety and sleep disturbances.
In summary, while research expands, anecdotal evidence and small-scale studies continue to show the positive effects of HT. It is important to note that HT should not be a substitute for medical treatments that are prescribed by your physician. Speak to your healthcare provider about supplementing this form of energy therapy along with your traditional therapies.