Therapeutic Touch

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Related to Therapeutic Touch: Reiki, Healing Touch

Therapeutic Touch

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Therapeutic touch is a modern variation on time-honored techniques of the laying on of hands, a healing method that is present in many cultures and religious traditions. Therapeutic touch was developed and named in 1972 by Dolores Krieger, a nursing professor at New York University. Krieger, a theosophist, had been inspired by the therapist and clairvoyant Dora Kunz (d. 1999), the former president of the Theosophical Society who had been studying the laying on of hands. Kunz introduced renowned Hungarian psychic healer Oskar Estabany to Krieger.

As a nursing professor, Krieger sought a means of introducing paranormal healing into nursing care in such a way that the scientific credentials of the nurses would not be compromised nor would a particular religious form of healing be introduced. Estabany, who had worked with researchers Bernard Grad and Justa Smith, was the healer utilized in what were the best experiments on psychic healing to date. At the same time, Krieger had herself run experiments on patients that indicated that such healing could have remarkable effects on patients. Her primary claims for her healing technique included its abilities to reduce pain and anxiety, promote relaxation, and stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

Krieger suggested that therapeutic touch worked on the theory of a flow of life energy in the healthy body, much as is suggested in Oriental understandings of the human body. In a healthy body, the life energy flows freely along established pathways. If the energy is blocked, illness is the result. Many healers claim to “feel” the energy flow. Therapeutic touch practitioners work with the energy field and inject new energy into people with stifled energy flows. Practitioners generally include in their sessions an attempt to feel the energy flow of the patient and direct their healing activity to bring it back to normal. Krieger suggests that the body’s energy field is a form of electromagnetic phenomena.

Once announced to the public and her colleagues, therapeutic touch underwent considerable criticism. Krieger’s own experiments suffered because of the complexity introduced by using human subjects in the healing incidents. Any healing effects of the kind claimed may have been due to other unreported factors, critics held. The suggestion of Oriental energy systems at work further distanced her ideas from accepted experimental methods. On the other hand, Krieger has referred to the work previously done by Estabany as setting the precedent for her own methods.


Krieger, Dolores. Therapeutic Touch: How to Use Your Hands to Help or Heal. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1986.
______. Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook. Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1996.
Macrae, Janet. Therapeutic Touch: A Practical Guide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
Sayre-Adams, Jean, and Steve Wright. The Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Touch. New York: Churchill Livingstone, Inc., 1995.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Both Therapeutic Touch and massage have in common caring intention and rhythmic movement within the continuous mutual patterning process of nurse and client.
Non-verbal communication methods the nurses use in the ICU Polish nurses (N=50) Turkish nurses (N=52) n (%) n (%) Non-verbal methods: Facial expression 32 (64.0) 47 (90.4) Eye contact 38 (76.0) 44 (84.6) Therapeutic touch 40 (80.0) 39 (75.0) [chi square] p Non-verbal methods: Facial expression 10.161 0.001 (*) Eye contact 1.200 0.273 Therapeutic touch 0.365 0.546 (*) p<0.05
No current evidence indicates therapeutic touch accelerates wound healing.
After assessing clients, RNs on the unit can then incorporate therapeutic touch as part of the plan of care for appropriate clients and it would be provided as part of the overall plan of nursing care for those clients.
Joseph's 4,500-square-foot emergency department has offered four holistic practices to patients over the past two years: music therapy (in the form of musicians who walk the common areas playing handheld harps), therapeutic touch (which he likens to hand massage), Pranic Healing therapy (a no-touch Asian energy work to cleanse the prana, or lifeforce), and aromatherapy.
"It's difficult to forecast revenues," he said, "but we had the history of Therapeutic Touch. We knew it was busy and what was in demand."
The therapeutic touch for approaching bioenergetic networks has either a sedating or tonifying quality.
In a similar manner, Brown reviews energy medicine techniques, such as Reiki and therapeutic touch, which also have non-Christian origins and have been marketed to be, at various times, Christian or part of mainstream medicine.
The issue becomes critical in the area of therapeutic touch, Gartlan said.
Some believe internal organs adjust to the sensory input of a therapeutic touch, and other theories include the possibility that reflexology releases endorphins and encephalins - the body's natural painkillers.
While Gruzelier covers studies dealing with Johrei and Reiki on health and mental health conditions, surprisingly he does not cover or mention "laying on of hands" or Therapeutic Touch, often used in the US by trained nurses.
The nursing staff has been trained in therapeutic touch for pain control.

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