Healing Touch, a type of energy therapy utilizing gentle touch to enhance and facilitate health of the mind, body, and spirit, is based on the idea that humans are made up of energy. This energy is believed to have an effect on healing, as imbalances and disturbances in the body, mind, or spirit may block its natural flow.
Qualified professionals can incorporate the Healing Touch method in the attempt to help those they are treating restore harmony to their energy by stimulating energy fields in the body through touch
- History and Development of Healing Touch
- How Does Healing Touch Work?
- What Happens in a Healing Touch Session?
- Issues Treated with Healing Touch
- Training for Healing Touch
- Concerns and Limitations
History and Development of Healing Touch
Healing Touch was developed by Janet Mentgen in the late 1980s. Mentgen recognized the importance of energy and the healing properties of touch through her work as a nurse, and she formally created Healing Touch as an energy medicine program in 1989. In 1993, Healing Touch was certified by the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Since that time, its reach has expanded as Healing Touch International, Inc., a non-profit educational organization, which Mentgen founded in 1996 in order to offer certification to a wider range of people.
Today, Healing Touch is practiced globally in hospitals, clinics, nursing schools, and long-term care centers.
How Does Healing Touch Work?
This technique is grounded in the same principles as Asian traditions such as acupuncture and Qigong, which are based on the concept of life energies and the necessity of maintaining a balanced flow of these energies for good physical, mental, and emotional health. Providers of Healing Touch therapy work to assist those seeking treatment by attempting to correct, through this method, any deficiencies in the energy field.
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A biofield (magnetic field) therapy belonging to a larger group known as energy therapies, Healing Touch is a non-invasive complementary approach to healing. The hand techniques used in the process are believed to restore balance to the flow of energy in a person's body, when this flow has been disturbed by illness, stress, or other concerns. Healing Touch theory, like the theory behind other types of energy therapies, is based primarily in the fields of holistic healing and quantum physics; thus, any results this approach yields cannot yet be effectively measured.
What Happens in a Healing Touch Session?
In a typical Healing Touch session, the person seeking treatment lies on a massage table or sits comfortably in a chair, fully clothed, while the practitioner becomes focused and calm through a process known as "centering." Through this process, the practitioner enters a type of meditative state in order to reduce distractions and better connect with the person being treated. Then, the Healing Touch practitioner assesses the energy field with hand motions and scans the energy field of the person in treatment to detect sensations and imbalances. Next, the practitioner will typically use off-body touch (near the body, but with no actual contact) or gentle touch over various areas of the body to clear the energy field. The practitioner then performs another scan to ensure the energy imbalances were corrected. Finally, the practitioner “grounds” the person receiving treatment, helping the individual return to a fully alert state.
Two basic techniques used in Healing Touch are the chakra connection and magnetic passes.
- The chakra connection involves the practitioner placing hands on the person seeking treatment, starting at the feet and moving up to each joint in the body. This technique is designed to balance the energy in the chakras—the body’s energy centers.
- Magnetic passes are slow hand movements, made over the body of the person in treatment. The practitioner’s fingers brush over the energy field in order to facilitate the removal of blockages, but actual physical contact is not made in this technique.
People often have different reactions to Healing Touch. Some may feel nothing at all, while others may experience sensations and images, relaxation, feelings of being nurtured, and/or emotional release.
Issues Treated with Healing Touch
Healing Touch has been widely used to treat a number of of physical and emotional concerns. It is a complementary therapy, designed to enhance traditional treatments rather than be used as a cure. As such, it has been widely used in the medical field, in diverse settings including nursing homes, hospitals, private practices, and hospice facilities. It has been used to treat pain, cancer symptoms, post-operative recovery, cardiovascular disease, and endocrine dysfunction. Healing Touch is also often used in the fields of psychiatry and psychology to address concerns such as anxiety, stress, and posttraumatic stress. Recipients of this therapy approach have also reported experiencing a deeper sense of connection to the spiritual self.
Individuals who are wary of traditional medical or psychiatric treatment and who desire an approach placing less focus on "disorders" or "diseases" and offers alternative paths to healing may also find Healing Touch effective. However, because the method is intended only to complement other approaches, not serve as a cure or sole treatment method, practitioners of Healing Touch may still encourage these individuals to incorporate other treatments into their care.
Many individuals who have participated in Healing Touch sessions before and after certain medical procedures report experiencing a shorter period of recovery and/or healing than expected.
Training for Healing Touch
This approach to energetic healing has become recognized throughout the world as a form of effective therapy, and Healing Touch is taught in medical schools and universities across the United States and in a number of other countries. Information on Healing Touch training and classes can be accessed through the Healing Touch Program website. Healing Touch training is not restricted to those associated with physical or mental health care professions, as Mentgen believed any individual could learn to practice Healing Touch and provide compassionate care to others. Classes in Healing Touch are offered by clinicians and practitioners licensed to practice the approach.
Concerns and Limitations
In traditional psychotherapy, touch is often considered to be taboo. However, many therapists recognize the use of touch can have a valuable and legitimate role in treatment. Because touch can contribute to feelings of vulnerability in those in treatment, therapists who use touch in therapy are expected to maintain specific ethical standards to ensure it is used safely and therapeutically. It is necessary for Healing Touch therapists to inform clients of the risks and benefits of the treatment and to obtain informed consent before using touch in therapy. Additionally, they are expected to evaluate the appropriateness of the treatment for each individual seeking treatment. As part of their training, Healing Touch students typically work to develop an individualized consent form they will later provide to those they treat.
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- Jain, S., McMahon, G.F., Hasen, P., Kozub, M.P., Porter, V., King, R., & Guarneri, E.M. (2012). Healing touch with guided imagery for PTSD in returning active duty military: A randomized controlled trial. Military Medicine, 177(9), 1015-1021.
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