Pain is the leading reason people go to doctors and it costs the nation upwards of $635 billion a year — more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. Healing Touch is an energy therapy that works well for both chronic and acute pain. Healing Touch practitioners look at pain from a holistic standpoint and understand that some physical pain might not have solely physical roots – but roots in the subconscious or stored at the cellular level that could be from challenging life circumstances, ruminating thoughts, unpleasant memories, emotional perturbations, or unsettling past experiences. From an energy medicine perspective a disruption starts in the individual’s energy field, pathology develops followed by the experience of physical symptoms, such as pain. Therefore, the symptom of pain is a feedback signal from somewhere in the human system indicating there is an issue or problem. Healing Touch, is an energy therapy that partners with an individual and uses heart centered intention along with touch to remove energetic blocks while connecting, opening and balancing their energy system restoring energetic balance and harmony which thereby elicits the person’s innate tendency for self healing. Although current science does not yet fully understand the exact mechanisms of energy medicine there are ample clinical trials supporting that Healing Touch reduces the intensity of pain in diverse conditions. The best evidence is to get on a table and experience a Healing Touch session for yourself!
Many cancer centers are now offering Healing Touch as part of an integrative approach for cancer care. It is important to note Healing Touch is not used as a cancer treatment but rather as a method to help improve quality of life during and after treatment. Healing Touch is effective with assisting a person to cope with the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments.
Benefits for People With Cancer
Healing touch has been reported to increase relaxation and support a sense of well-being. Some of these include:
Improved Immune Response
One study found that people who underwent healing touch had less toxicity to cells in the immune system (natural killer cells) that play a role in fighting cancer.
Less Depression, Anxiety, Stress and Grief
Studies suggest that people who have Healing Touch performed along with standard treatments for cancer are less depressed and experience shorter periods of grief through out their cancer journey and less anxious before and after procedures, surgery and treatments.
Improved Pain Management and improve Physical Functioning
Healing touch may decrease the intensity of pain experienced by people with cancer. This, in turn, may decrease the dosage and frequency of pain medication needed, and hence the side effects that pain medications can cause.
Improved Fatigue and Vitality
One study looking specifically at cancer-related fatigue in people going through radiation treatment found that Healing Touch was associated with a significantly reduced level of fatigue thereby, providing an increased quality of life during treatment. Additionally, reported was an increase with mental clarity associated with ongoing Healing Touch sessions.
Studies continue to document patients reporting less nausea associated with anesthesia from surgery and chemotherapy.
- Aghabati, N., Mohammedi, E., and Z. Pour Esmaiel. The effect of therapeutic touch on pain and fatigue of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2010. 7(3):375-81.
- Anderson, J., and A. Taylor. Effects of healing touch in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Journal of Holistic Nursing. 2011. 29(11):221-8.
- Coakley, A., and A. Barron. Energy therapies in oncology nursing. Seminars in Oncology Nursing. 2012. 28(1):55-63.
- Hart, L.et al. The use of healing touch in integrative oncology. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2011. 15(5):519-25.
- Jackson, E. et al. Does therapeutic touch help reduce pain and anxiety in patients with cancer?. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2008. 12(1):113-20.
- Jain, S., and P. Mills. Biofield therapies: helpful or full of hype? A best evidence synthesis. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2010. 17(1):1-16.
- Lutgendorf, S. et al. Preservation of immune function in cervical cancer patients during chemoradiation using a novel integrative approach. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2010. 24(8):1231-40.
- Mansky, P., and D. Wallerstedt. Complementary medicine in palliative care and cancer symptom management. Cancer Journal. 2006. 12(5):425-31.
- Pierce, B. The use of biofield therapies in cancer care. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2007. 11(2):253-8.
- Roscoe, J. et al. Treatment of radiotherapy-induced fatigue through a nonpharmacological approach. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2005. 4(1):8-13.
- Cook, C. Guerrero , Slater, V. Healing Touch Augments Radiation Therapy. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2004. 10 (3):34-40.
- 18 Nursing CEUs
- Curriculum: Theory / energy concepts / HT process / 11 HT techniques
- 17.5 Nursing CEUs
- Curriculum: Increase study of HT / interview process /10 HT techniques / sequencing
- 17.5 Nursing CEUs
- Curriculum: Cultivating and clarifying energy of the HT practitioner / 9 HT techniques
- 25.5 Nursing CEUs
- Curriculum: In-depth development and preparation of the HT practitioner
Criteria to Enter Level 5
- Actively participate in a mentorship for 1 year
- Complete and document 100 HT sessions
- Professional HT resume
- Read 7 books / write report
- Experience 10 different energy modalities from certified practitioners / write report
- 1 Community Service Project / write report
- Document 10 page Case Study
**All written criteria submitted for independent review**
- 24 Nursing CEUs
- Curriculum: Professional development / principle and practice components of HT
- Completion of Level 5: Healing Touch Practitioner
Submission to Healing Beyond Borders Certification Board
- Certification application
- Criteria from Level 5 and completion 2 new case studies
- Written recommendation from mentor
- Read additional 8 books / write report
- Await board approval: CERTIFIED HEALING TOUCH PRACTITIONER
** Certification must be renewed every 5 years with 75 CEUs**
** Endorsed by American Holistic Nursing Association**
You have an autonomic nervous system that is responsible for maintaining an internal environment within your body by controlling such involuntary functions such as digestion, respiration, perspiration, metabolism and blood pressure.
This autonomic nervous system has two parts: sympathetic and parasympathetic.
Sympathetic nervous system is your “fight or flight” – triggered by perceived or real danger and stress. This might be things like upcoming deadlines, balancing home and work responsibilities or simply being pulled into many directions. It is responsible for providing energy needed to cope with stressful situations. In response to such stress the sympathetic nervous system raises blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, releases stress hormones and suppresses your immune system.
Parasympathetic nervous system is know as “rest and digest”. Responsible for turning on your relaxation response by controlling, balancing, maintaining and restoring a state of calm in your body and counterbalance after fight or flight response. This allows your body to relax and repair lowering your sense of stress, reducing blood pressure, slowing heart rate and respirations, secreting calming hormones that support your immune system.
So here is where Healing Touch comes in …. Healing Touch promotes relaxation! It turns on the “relaxation response”! When your body relaxes endorphins are released from the brain, which helps the muscles to relax. When the muscles relax circulation is improved and the increased blood flow elevates oxygen levels throughout the body. This in turn allows nutrients to be absorbed more efficiently, enzymes are built to aid digestion, hormones are regulated, and toxins are released from the body. This promotes and assists turning on the parasympathetic nervous system providing a sense of well-being which then supports healing, relaxation and regulates the immune system.