Ask the Doctor: What is Energy Healing, and Healing Touch?

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Note: This article first appeared on ProHealth on November 14, 2012.

Q:  I would like to find a way to help others, and I’m interested in the idea of “Healing Touch” that you mention in your Elder Healer Project. Can you tell us how this Healing Touch therapy works, and what kind of results it has?

A:  Healing Touch is a form of hands-on energy healing.(1) It is very subtle, and can be very pleasant and wonderful. It is derived from Therapeutic Touch and has a great deal in common with that, Reiki, and other forms of energy healing.

Healing Touch has been found to help people reduce pain, anxiety, and other symptoms, and to help elevate mood. One of its chief mechanisms, I believe, is helping the recipient to deeply relax, which in and of itself activates the body’s healing systems very nicely. [For more on this, see "The Healing Power of Deep Relaxation," and "Your Immune System and How It Works" (as part of the body's broader healing system).]

I started the Elder Healer Project in an effort to help regular lay people learn that they can develop their own healing abilities and that we don’t have to be dependent on professionals or professional training to receive this wonderful gift….

I would encourage anyone with an interest in developing their innate healing abilities to pursue training in any form of energy healing, including Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, Pranic Healing, etc. You might think you are doing this to heal others, but the reality is that by accessing these abilities within yourself, you promote your own healing as well.

In my ideal world I would have all people with ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, cancer, HIV and other chronic illnesses become healers in this way.

There are many good books available on simple healing techniques. Check out any book on Reiki or Healing Touch. Also, my book, Partners in Healing: Simple Ways to Offer Support, Comfort, and Care to a Loved One Facing Illness, has several chapters describing how to use some of the simpler techniques with family and friends. I also have a DVD program for caregivers of cancer patients that teaches simple massage and touch techniques (How to Give Comfort through Touch and Massage to a Loved One with Cancer). This may be of interest for a wider audience as well.

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This week's question & answer is from the transcript of a live chat with Dr. William Collinge, PhD. William has researched, developed and taught mind-body healing techniques for people with chronic illness and depression since developing the first self-help program for Dr. Dan Peterson's CFS patients after the Incline Village outbreak of the 1980s. For more information see www.Collinge.org.

1. Healing Touch, a therapy first championed by the American Holistic Nurses' Association and now employed in many hospitals and care facilities, involves gently moving the hands over a patient's body so as to induce relaxation. For profiles of the many leading healthcare facilities and systems that offer this therapy via staff and trained volunteers or family members, click here.

Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, Illness or disease.

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