A type of “energy medicine” in which the practitioner moves his hands over the person’s body in an attempt to strengthen or reorient the person’s energies. Energy medicine is a form of complementary medicine based on belief in a life force (such as chi in traditional Chinese medicine, ki in the Japanese Kampo system, and doshas in Ayurvedic medicine). Practitioners of energy medicine believe that illness is the result of disturbances in life force and that restoring the flow of life energy can restore a person to good health.
In therapeutic touch (TT), the practitioner’s hands are typically 2–4 inches away from the person’s body, which may be fully clothed. The practitioner focuses his thoughts on healing the individual and then moves his hands over the person’s energy field to feel where the healing is needed. The practitioner then uses rhythmic hand movements to redistribute the life energy to where it is needed.
A number of small studies of therapeutic touch have suggested that therapeutic touch may have beneficial effects on wound healing, osteoarthritis, migraines, and anxiety. In a meta-analysis that pooled data from 11 controlled studies on the efficacy of therapeutic touch, roughly half showed an improvement while half showed either negative or no change in the participants. Because the studies often lacked important information on participants and did not use the same therapeutic techniques, the authors of the meta-analysis strongly suggested that further research on the effects of therapeutic touch be done.
For more information, contact the Therapeutic Touch International Association (formerly the Nurse Healers–Professional Associates International), which also maintains a listing of therapeutic touch healers, by going to www.therapeutic-touch.org.