Therapeutic touch

In many cultures, energy plays an important role in the health of human beings. Therapeutic touch is based on the concept of human beings being energies in the form of a field. In a healthy person, the energy flows unrestricted and in a balanced manner. Whenever there is an imbalance or disorder which block the flow of this energy, a disease is born. In Therapeutic touch, the practitioner follows five steps to rebalance the energy field:

  • Centering – bringing the body, mind, and consciousness into a focused state.
  • Assessing – sweeping the hands over the body of the patient at a distance of around 2-6 inches away from the body and assessing the blockages.
  • Intervention – helping the energy to flow symmetrically through the field.
  • Balancing/Rebalancing – attempting to re-establish order in the system.
  • Closure – reassessing the field continuously and ending the treatment at the right time.

The Therapeutic Touch® International Association (TTIA) defines this energy therapy: “Therapeutic Touch® is a holistic, evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being. The association also describes Therapeutic Touch® as “a contemporary interpretation of several ancient healing practices…an intentionally directed process of energy exchange during which the practitioner uses the hands as a focus to facilitate the rebalancing of another’s energy field in support of healing.”

The therapy was developed and researched by nurses, and most of its practitioners are nurses, although many non-nurses have been trained. It is a discipline that requires practice, and the Therapeutic Touch® International Association has established criteria and provides credentials for practitioners, mentors and teachers.

Usually, the treatment lasts for around 10-20 minutes with the patient sitting on a chair or lying on a table, fully clothed. Some benefits of Therapeutic touch therapy are as follows:

  • Facilitates relaxation and an overall sense of well-being.
  • Restores balance in the energies of a person
  • Enhances the body’s healing processes
  • Relieves stress
  • Supports the immune function
  • Decreases some side-effects of cancer treatment

Therapeutic Touch and Cancer

  • In a laboratory study, it was found that Therapeutic touch promoted bone formation in normal cells and decreased formation in bone cancer cells.
  • Although some trials suggest that therapeutic touch might reduce pain and fatigue while improving the overall well-being of a person, the evidence is inconsistent.
  • Some early clinical research shows that therapeutic touch can have a moderate effect on stress-related conditions, pain, and healing.
  • In a randomized control trial of 90 male cancer patients, it was found that therapeutic touch had a positive impact on pain management.
  • In another trial of patients undergoing chemotherapy, it was found that therapeutic touch was effective in reducing pain and fatigue associated with the treatment.
  • In another trial of therapeutic touch in patients with terminal cancer in palliative care, it was found that patients experienced improved well-being.

While there are some studies suggesting the effectiveness of Therapeutic touch in managing the symptoms and side-effects of Cancer, the results are inconclusive and requires further study.

Key Points

  • Therapeutic Touch® is a holistic therapy derived from ancient healing practices.
  • TT incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being.
  • The Therapeutic Touch® International Association has established criteria and provides credentials for practitioners, mentors and teachers.
  • One study shows positive effects of TT on bone cells.
  • Although much of the research shows methodological problems, early clinical research in TT shows moderate effect on anxiety, stress-related conditions, pain and wound healing.
  • TT poses no known safety concerns.

References & More Information

  1. Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
  2. Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
  3. Therapeutic Touch International Association: The Process of Therapeutic Touch.
  4. Potter PJ. Energy therapies in advanced practice oncology: an evidence-informed practice approach. Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology, 2013 May-Jun; 4(3), 139–151.
  5. Jhaveri A, Walsh SJ, Wang Y, McCarthy M, Gronowicz G. Therapeutic Touch® affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture. Journal of Orthopaedic Research. 2008 Nov;26(11):1541-6.
  6. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer: Therapeutic touch. Viewed October 2, 2018.
  7. Peters RM. The effectiveness of Therapeutic Touch®: a meta-analytic review. Nursing Science Quarterly. 1999 Sep;12:52–61.
  8. Winstead-Fry P, Kijek J. An integrative review and meta-analysis of Therapeutic Touch® research. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. 1999 Jan;5:58–67.
  9. Tabatabaee A, Tafreshi MZ et al. Effect of Therapeutic Touch® on pain related parameters in patients with cancer: a randomized clinical trial. Materia Socio-Medica. 2016 Jun;28(3), 220–223.
  10. Aghabati N, Mohammadi E, Pour Esmaiel Z. The effect of Therapeutic Touch® on pain and fatigue of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. eCAM. 2010 Sep;7(3), 375–381.
  11. Giasson M, Bouchard L. Effect of Therapeutic Touch® on the wellbeing of persons with terminal cancer. Journal of Holistic Nursing. 1998 Sep;16:383–98.
  12. Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies
  13. Susan G. Komen: Therapeutic Touch

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