Healing Touch is worth a try

Posted: Monday, November 08, 2010

An anxious patient comes to the hospital for surgery. After 30 minutes of Healing Touch, the patient is more relaxed.

A nurse on duty has a headache and neck pain. She receives a seven-minute Healing Touch treatment and her neck pain is decreased and her headache is gone. She returns to her patients.

Family members have been sitting at the bedside, watching their mother in pain after an operation. They accept an invitation to help give her a Healing Touch treatment. They are told where to put their hands and directed to "send love" through their hands. The whole family feels a sense connection. The patient experiences some pain relief.

An individual with work stress receives a Healing Touch treatment in a private practice office. After the session, he is relaxed and feels renewed.

A woman with a history of being abused as a child gently releases tears of emotional pain during a Healing Touch treatment. She later feels nurtured and more whole.

These are only a few examples of how an energy-based approach called Healing Touch can be used to assist people in reducing pain, anxiety and stress. The practitioner may use light touch to balance the energy field, or move their hands a few inches above the body to clear and energize the field. For those who are in too much pain to be touched, or who have personal boundary concerns, the non-contact approach is useful. There is no guarantee that Healing Touch will be effective in every treatment, but most individuals are relaxed and experience some degree of comfort. A major advantage is that there are no negative side effects.

As scientists develop more sensitive equipment for studying subtle energy, more is being learned about these extremely low frequencies (ELF) in and around the body. For example, Dr. John Zimmerman at the University of Colorado used a superconducting quantum interference (SQUID) device and other magnetometers to detect the biomagnetic field as well as the frequencies emanating from the hand of an energy practitioner. Energy healing has been described as "jump-starting" the healing process in a way similar to the way pulsed electromagnetic fields work in medical practice.

In the book "Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis," James Oschman, a biophysicist and biologist, describes much about the energy of the body and why energy approaches are beneficial.

Research studies have shown that Healing Touch can decrease pain and anxiety, promote the body's healing ability and even shorten hospital stays.

In addition to having physical and mental effect, Healing Touch also promotes spiritual support. Many recipients report peace of mind and a sense of well-being after a session. During life transitions, Healing Touch offers specific techniques for being more relaxed and peaceful about changes that might relate to jobs, relationships, family, releasing addictions or making new commitments. In the dying process, Healing Touch can provide comfort to individuals and their families. In one situation, a hospice volunteer found family members so distraught about an impending death, that they were arguing with each other. The volunteer gave each person a session, and they were able to be more at peace with each other.

Healing Touch differs from other energy modalities in that it is based in nursing practice. There is a Code of Ethics and Standards for Practice guiding practitioners. Healing Touch is not a substitute for necessary medical care.

While some Healing Touch practitioners provide treatments in private practice settings, others may do Healing Touch as part of their work in hospitals and clinics. Volunteers in Juneau have given Healing Touch treatments at the hospital, long term care facilities, the AWARE shelter, health fairs, at the Women's Health Forum, in homes and at a correctional facility.

Healing Touch can be learned by anyone interested. Bartlett Regional Hospital Staff Development Department will sponsor a Level 1 class on Nov. 13 and 14.

• Mary Szczepanski, BSN, MS, is a certified Holistic Nurse and certified Healing Touch Practitioner and Instructor. She and has a private practice called Healing Touch Alaska and coordinates the Healing Touch Program at Bartlett Regional Hospital. She served on the certification board for Healing Touch International for ten years. She has taught Healing Touch in 12 states as well as in Romania, Poland and Canada.

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