Therapeutic touch (TT) is a four-step technique developed by Dolores Krieger, RN, PhD, and Dora Kunz in the early 1970s from traditional folk medicine.
TT practitioners make little to no actual physical contact with the person receiving treatment. Instead, they practice the technique by holding their arms at a short distance from the subject. The TT practitioner aims at detecting a person's energy field to fix any imbalances. Nurse Healers Professional Associates, Inc. offers primary training in TT and teaches a standard method. A formal certification course for this therapy is lacking.
There are four basic steps in TT: centering (focusing on the person to help calm them), assessment (detecting imbalances in the person's energy field), intervention (helping to produce a balanced flow of energy into the person's field), and evaluation (confirming and concluding treatment). Treatment sessions typically range from five to 30 minutes.
Several forms of the original treatment have been developed, one of them being healing touch and the Healing Touch Program®, developed by Janet Mentgen, RN in the 1980s. The goal of healing touch is to restore balance and harmony to a person's energy system. Other features of healing touch include empowerment, self-care, and the influence of the relationship between the practitioner and the person being treated.
It has been argued that the concept of TT, that there is a "life energy" or "life force," is a spiritual rather than a scientific principle due to its religious roots. Practitioners have been unable to provide a scientific explanation to support its potential effects, which has made it difficult for scientists to validate TT. But positive results in human trials, encouraging clinical experience, and case reports continue to lend support to the technique.
TT is commonly used in nursing practice for a wide range of health conditions. The strongest evidence supporting the use of TT is in the treatment of pain, anxiety, and stress reduction. There are inconclusive results in the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia, well-being in people with cancer, and wound healing. TT is generally recognized as safe, although its safety has not been proven.
Several studies have been conducted on TT; however, it remains controversial.
Bio-energy therapy, biofield therapies, direct body-to-body approach, energy healing, energy medicine, esoteric healing, external Qigong, gentle touch, healing touch, Healing Touch Program™, Krieger-Kunz therapeutic touch, laying on of hands, laying-on-of-hands, off-body energy field healing, reiki, relaxation touch, slow stroke massage, spiritual healing, touch healing (TH) therapy, TT.
Note: This bottom line focuses on therapeutic touch as an energy-based treatment. The following techniques have been excluded: healing touch, Reiki, and Qigong. Research examining the effects of physical touch in general, rather than as part of therapeutic touch, was also excluded.