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Healing Touch



Lauren Richard



            Many people are skeptical when they hear the term Healing Touch.  Others have never heard the term before.  What does this word mean and is there any value here for the everyday person?  Healing Touch is “an energy (biofield) therapy that encompasses a group of non-invasive techniques that utilize the hands to clear, energize, and balance the human and environmental energy fields” (  Energy healing, therapeutic therapy, Energy Field Disturbance, and Reiki are all common forms of Healing Touch.


HISTORY OF HEALING TOUCH:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

“They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).  This quote demonstrates how the theory of Healing Touch traces back to the time of the Bible.  The “laying on of hands” tradition of healing in most cultures and spiritual paths travel back thousands of years.  Specifically, the “laying on of hands” represents a Christian religious belief.  Further, the philosophy behind healing touch stems from science.  Ancient texts provided evidence that the energy system was referred to by many cultures. Originally, in the 1600s, Newton’s theory related a human being to a machine with fixed parts.  Today, humans are described as fields with in fields.  Thus, modern day physics supports energetic therapy by saying, “Thought precedes form.  Thought is a form of energy.  Attention (presence) changes the object being observed .  Consequently, the world is can only be combined philosophically.  While spirituality and science have been separate since the scientific era, there is a definite rebirth of the idea that everything and everyone are connected.



            Healing Touch is used to energize, restore, and balance an energy field disturbance, or harm of the body, mind, and spirit.  The detected energy can be equalized by therapists who pass their hands over the patient’s body.  It is as if the practitioners take over as the human energy support system until the person’s own system can function.  Ultimately, when energy flows freely throughout the body, the person is healthy.  Typically, healing touch involves meditation, aromatherapy, sounds, and spiritual journeys.                                                  



During the 1970s, two women, Dolores Krieger and Dora Kunz, created the meditative healing practice of Therapeutic Touch (TT).  This practice was derived from the "laying on of hands" method in order to heal and help others.  One major variable found in TT is energy fields.  Krieger found that the practitioner facilitates therapeutic energy field encounters through motivations for wanting to heal, the willingness to confront non-altruistic self-motivations, and the intention to heal derived from sound knowledge bases.  Further, Krieger believed assessment and scanning was vital in attempting to conduct therapeutic touch.  This information gathering phase of TT allowed the practitioners to evaluate the patient's energy force.  The hands are able to sense the fluctuations in the flow of energy such as temperature changes or dissymmetry in the field, by holding the hands 2-6 inches from the recipient's body.  It was confirmed that the practitioner does not need to physically touch the subject to  feel the energy flow with in the body, because TT is an energy phenomenon.  Next, the healer assumes a quiet posture that involves an openness between all five body senses.  Each healer experiences different messages.  Healers may see colors or images, hear symbolic messages or inner voices during TT, feel sensations, vibrations, warmth, pain, or intuitive flashes that guide them.  Thus, the therapeutic touch allows the healer's intuitiveness to take over and consequently avoid rational analysis.  After the assessment, the Healer must clear the energy field.  This is crucial in order to free the field for use in the healing process or to mobilize static energy.  Clearing the energy field is accomplished by using the palmar surface of the hands in a sweeping motion.  This motion must be away from the mid-line of the body, and more laterally toward the feet.

            Further, Krieger found that the easiest way to transmit energy to the recipient is through visualization of colors.  As defined in the April, 2000 issue of the Holistic Nursing Practice Journal, colors are the "wavelengths of light energy discernible to the eye, and each vibrates at its own unique frequency."  Each color stimulates the standardization responses from most people.  It is found that over 90% of the population who receives therapeutic touch experiences a character relaxation response.  This includes a subdued voice level, slowed and deepened respiratons, audible sigh, and peripheral flushing.

Other methods or branches of this treatment include…

-Melchizedek Method ™                                                         -Reiki

-Magnified Healing                                                                   -Therapeutic Touch

-Martial Arts

-Healing: “laying on hands” or remotely thru prayer and intention. (


Healing Touch can benefit people with a multitude of illnesses, as well as take place in different settings.  Primarily, with practice and training, one can learn to store the subtle energy flow through the body to help heal oneself and others.  Chi doesn’t just aid the healing process, but it can help guide, protect, and increase the perception abilities of a worker.

            Typically, healing touch is practiced at Healing Centers, Delivery Rooms, Hospitals, Hospices, Accident Scenes, Homes, and Schools.  The following diseases are also closely controlled with Healing Touch:

-Pain Control, Neck and Back Problems

-Hypertension, Anxiety Reduction                      

-Skin Problems, Diabetes

-Premenstrual Syndrome, Wound and Fracture Healing

-Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis                    

-HIV and A.I.D.S.                                          

-Grief Management

-Heart and Lung Disease                                             

-Pre/Post Surgical Procedures

-Headaches/Migraines  , Autoimmune Disorders          

-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Arthritis

-Rehabilitation, General Well Being                           

-Disease Prevention                                                     

-Spiritual Enhancement (



            Skepticism is an everyday emotion felt towards the practice of Healing Touch.  While many people are supportive of the holistic approach, others neither understand or believe in this treatment.  In a response paper from Healing Touch International, Healing Touch practitioner Cynthia Poznaski Hutchison offers her beliefs to a recent article that seemingly dismisses Therapeutic Therapy.  Mrs. Poznaski Hutchison understands the skepticism behind Healing Therapy, but continues to practice anyways.  She says, “So why did I keep on practicing?  Because I could see that people I worked with were experiencing the relaxation response, pain relief, accelerated wound healing, mental clarity, emotional balance, and/or spiritual connection.”  She also describes how the article looks at only a piece of healing touch, “which is like studying a horse by only looking at its legs” (

             Another common debate about Healing Touch is the religious aspect.  In an article entitled, “Therapeutic Touch: Healing Therapy or Hoax,” a religious tolerance organization examines the two sides.  It claims that numerous studies have indicated healing therapy is effective.  On the flip side, it states that studies have yet to prove the practice is more effective than a caring, untrained individual. (

            Further, in an article from Skeptical Inquirer, journalists Carla Selby and Bela Scheiber investigate on the September 1994 military grant of $355,225 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Burn Center.  The study examined the human energy field techniques on burn victims.  Selby and Scheiber believe that healing touch is still unproven and “is a classic example of wasteful government spending” (  They believe that while healing touch can decrease a person’s perception of pain, it does little to advance the theory behind it.



            While Healing Touch therapy is highly controversial, documented studies have proven that hands-on work heal surgical wounds and sutures faster, clear burns up sooner, enhance the growth rate of premature infants, and breathing/circulation post surgery.  In the United States in 1995, 41% of the population used 1 or more methods of alternative healing as a substitute for traditional medical techniques.  Also, there are an estimated 30,000 practitioners in the world and roughly 80 Colleges/Universities that teach Healing Touch.  At the University of Miami’s Medical School, the world’s first Touch Research Institution was founded to document touch therapy.

            A myriad of organizations use Healing Touch to aid international causes.  The Healing Touch to Romania Project provides over 130,000 neglected children Healing Touch therapy by sending health care professionals.  Similarly, the Bosum Buddies of Hawaii Project provides referrals, emotional support, and healing touch therapy to first year breast cancer patients.  Thus, there are numerous evidences that support Healing Therapy and its purpose of healing and rejuvenating the body. (




            Continuing the study of therapeutic touch, Dolores Krieger investigated enzymes.  Enzymes, or the proteins responsible for catalyzing specific biochemical reactions in plants and animals, could be the key to explaining healing effects from the "laying on of hands."  In Krieger's first trial, she investigated the effects of technique on people's hemoglobin levels in 1974.  She divided the subjects into two groups.  The first group was the experimental group which received the TT.  The second group received the "simple touch required in routine nursing procedures."  Pre- and post-peripheral blood samples were taken and examined.  The conclusions reveled that the recipients of TT had significantly higher mean hemoglobin (P < .001) levels initially and after treatment, and follow-up hemoglobin levels in the control group were statistically equivalent.




            In this clinical trial completed in the Department of Psychology at Tennessee State University in Nashville,  the clinical effectiveness of healing touch was addressed.

            objectiveThere are two main objectives in this trial.  First, is to determine the clinical effectiveness of healing touch for health enhancement.  Second, is whether the healer training level moderates treatment effectiveness.

locationThe treatment takes place at the clients homes and/or at the practitioners offices.

subjectsThe subjects are 22 people who have never experienced healing touch

Three treatments applied:         

                                                                        -No treatment

-Healing touch standard treatment

                                                                        -Healing touch in addition to music and

                                                                        guided imagery


outcome measures:    -secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) concentrations in saliva

                                                -self reports of stress levels

                                                -clients perceptions of health enhancement

                                                -qualitative questionnaires about individual effects

resultsThe clients of healers with more training had statistically significant positive sIgA changes over the healing touch treatment series.  Further, the clients reported significant reduction of stress levels after both healing touch conditions.  The preceived enhancement of health was reported among 13 of the 22 clients (59%), while 6 of 11 clients (55%) experienced pain relief.

conclusionsThus, the data supports the clinical effectiveness of healing touch in health enhancement, the increase of sIgA concentrations, the decrease of stress perceptions,  and relieving pain.  This is not exclusively as a result of the placebo, or the clients beliefs/regards.


objectiveThe objective is to have a review of the available data on the efficiency of any form of "distant healing" as a treatment for medical conditions.

data sources:  The studies were collected through an electronic search on MEDLINE, PsychLIT, EMBASE, CISCOM, and the Cochrane Library databases from the interception to the end in 1999 and by contract with researchers in the field.

study selection:  Various types of studies were performed including random assignments, the placebo/adequate control, clinical investigations, publicaton in peer-reviewed journals, and human participants.

data extraction:  Two people independently extracted data on sample size, study design, type of control, type of intervention, nature of the outcomes, and the direction of effect.

data synthesis:  There were 23 trials conducted with a total of 2,774 patients.  Each of these patients were chosen through a precluded trial through meta-analysis.  Among the 23 trials, 5 trials used prayer as a distant healing intervention, 11 trials conducted noncontact  therapeutic touch, and 7 trials used other forms of distant healing.  Thus, of the 23 trials, 13 trials (57%) yielded statistically significant treatment effects, 9 trials showed no effect, and 1 trial had a negative effect.

conclusionsUltimately, given 57% of the trials yielded positive treatment effects, the evidence far merits further study.



            Objective:  The objective of this trial is to examine the possibility that a theoretically proposed and confirmed form of electromagnetic field emission from living beings appears to modify physical characteristics of water (Acupunct Electrother Res).

            Experiment types:  There were three different experiments performed.  In the first experiment, the scientists examined in what way water exposed to growing and dying spruce seedlings through a quartz test tube, influences the germination of seeds and the growth of seedlings of the same species.  The second experiment dealt with in what way distilled water, equally exposed to growing and dying spruce seedlings, as well as two different ontogenetic phases of mealworm beetle, can be modified.  This modification later reproduces through a specially developed method of eletrophotography.  The last experiment attempts to find out if an emission from human hands can non-chemically modify the physical characteristics of distilled water (Acupunct Electrother Res).

            Results:  The evidence provides proof for two different groups of people; people capable of imprinting some form of highly reproducible radiation into water and those at most capable of imprinting only some sort of highly variable radiation (Acupunct Electrother Res).

            Conclusions:   The experiments represent indirect evidence for a form of electromagnetic emission from living beings.  This emission alters water in a yet unknown way.  Future research could provide a scientifically based testing of the capabilities of the biotherapists to perform a kind of unconventional healing.


Ultimately, Healing Touch is surrounded by both skepticism and support.  While there is yet to be substantial evidence found to fully credit Healing Touch, this therapy proves to aid people in achieving a toxic free lifestyle.  Overall, by adopting holistic approaches to re-energize your body, allows you to engage in Healing Touch, or the ability to clear and balance the human energy field.












  7. Holistic Nurse Practitioner 2000; 14 (3): 1-13.  Therapeutic Touch. Colorado:

Aspen Publishers, Inc.

  1. Astin, J.A. & Ernst, E. & Harkness, H.  Ann Intern Med 2000. Jun 6;132 (11):

            903-10.  University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.

  1. Barbour, N. & Chatman, J.E. & Johnson, T.L. & Knox, P.L. & Myles, Y. & Reel,
    1. & Wilkinson, D.S.  J Altern Complement Med 2002. Feb;8 (1):33-47.

Department of Psychology, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee.

      10. Berden, M. & Jerman, I. & Skarja, M.  Acupunct Electrother Res 1997;22 (2):

                  127-46.  BION, Institute for Bioelectromagnetics and New Biology,

                   Ljubljana, Slovenia.



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