Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies

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Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

In your journal entry this week, reflect on the following:

How do you feel about using touch and hand-mediated therapies as healing interventions?

Submit a maximum of three paragraphs Using 3 Nursing reference article to support your paper


Introduction: Touch-based therapies (Reiki, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch) are the subject of study and scientific research and thanks to the numerous publications of the last forty years, they have been shown to have a positive effect on a wide variety of disorders. But why do they work? Discussion: The human being is a complex organism and in this brief communication it is divided into four fundamental parts, namely physical body, mind, emotions and soul. A fifth part considered is the self.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay In this brief communication it is theorized and explained, for the first time, how touch-based therapies act simultaneously on the four fundamental components of the person with different mechanisms of action, specific for each of these parts. These mechanisms of action emerge from the analysis of the main publications concerning touch-based therapies. Conclusion: Touch-based therapies have shown their effectiveness in numerous independent studies to be a useful complementary and complementary medicine therapy to stimulate self-healing mechanisms, prevent disease and improve overall health. The mechanisms of action reported in this brief communication are a theory that emerges from the analysis of what has been published and that wants to explain why touch-based therapies work. However, further studies and research are needed to more clearly define their various mechanisms of action.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

In Therapeutic Touch, therapists place their hands on or near their patient’s body with the intention to help or heal. In doing so, therapists believe that they are consciously directing or modulating an individual’s energies by interacting with his or her energy field. The focus is on balancing the energies of the total person and stimulating the body’s own natural healing ability rather than on the treatment of specific physical diseases.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

Energy-based healing practices have been part of various cultures throughout history. Use of these complementary therapies, referred to as biofield therapies, is gaining popularity in the U.S. The theory behind energy-based healing practices is that humans have an energetic dimension necessary for sustaining life. A healthy person’s energy field is symmetrical and balanced, allowing optimal energy flow. Imbalances in the energy field might result in pathological physical and psychological symptoms.

Scientific study of the biological mechanisms, effectiveness and safety of biofield therapists is limited. However, this month’s Massage Therapy Foundation research column reviews an interesting, systematic, evidence-based approach study of the biofield therapy Healing Touch that was conducted at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and recently published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

Healing Touch is a “hand-mediated” therapy involving the practitioner using his or her hands, either on or above the client’s body, to restore, energize and equilibrate imbalances in the client’s energy field, with the goal of health, well-being or to alleviate specific conditions. Healing Touch originated in the nursing field in the late 1980s as a patient-centered modality in which the practitioner and client both participate in the healing process. Reported benefits include reducing stress, anxiety, pain and depression symptoms, while increasing relaxation and an overall sense of well-being.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

This published systematic review evaluated data from randomized clinical trials (RCTs). The systematic review examined the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch as supportive care for medical conditions. Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, and were searched for peer-reviewed articles about Healing Touch. Of the 332 potentially relevant articles, five were included in the review (327 articles were excluded). The five articles selected, involved studies which used random assignment to the treatment condition. Some of the five articles were selected because they employed a blinded study design, which means the studies had data collectors or participants who did not know what type of treatment the participants received (e.g. treatment or control).

The five selected studies involve the use of imagery, stress-relaxation therapy, prayer, therapeutic massage, Healing Touch, mock Healing Touch and presence (as in the presence of someone with the participant, but who did not perform any type of treatment). The sample sizes ranged from 62 to 237 participants. The participants included both men and women who had a mean age between 50 and 65 years old. The studies included multiple conditions including cancer, coronary artery bypass surgery or surgery to enlarge coronary arteries blocked by plaque (percutaneous coronary intervention).Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

While one study had no significant results with Healing Touch alone, the other four studies show significant findings. One study showed that recipients had significant improvements in respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, pain and mood disturbance after receiving Healing Touch. Two of the studies showed that recipients who received Healing Touch had a significant increase in overall functioning, satisfaction, emotional role functioning, mental health and health transition and a decrease in worry. And the fifth study showed that Healing Touch recipients had a significant decrease in anxiety and the length of their hospital stay.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

More studies about the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch for improving health-related quality of life are required, given the inconclusive findings and limitations of the studies reviewed. Limitations included one study which did not include a “usual care alone” group, i.e. a control group, which is a group of participants that received only the usual medical care and no biofield therapy or other type of therapies. Usual care alone groups are essential when making comparisons with the standard of care. One study used a standardized Healing Touch method involving a “modified” chakra connection, but the modification was not explained. This makes replicating the study difficult. In another study, music was played during Healing Touch treatments; in this case, theoretically the music could have been the reason recipients felt more relaxed. Also, a standard Healing Touch protocol was not used and recipients had different types of cancer. Both of these factors could have potentially contributed to some of the variability in the results. Further, one of the studies used Healing Touch involving different lengths of treatment without the use of a standard protocol, again making replication of the study difficult.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

None of the studies justified the protocol or length of time chosen for the Healing Touch treatments. Additionally, because there are several levels of training, the experience of the Healing Touch practitioners should have been described.

Additionally, a limitation of systematic reviews is that studies with positive results are more often published than those with negative results which can lead to a bias toward the publication of studies that are more positive rather than representing all RCT findings.

Research in biofield therapies is difficult because there is a question about whether it can be analyzed using conventional scientific approaches, such as RCTs. Few clinical trials use adequate research methods, including the use of blinding and control treatments; which can result in exaggerated treatment effects. Sometimes trials do not have large enough sample sizes. Another issue is that biofield therapy practitioners are not always involved in developing research protocols and researchers might be unfamiliar with the language used in complementary therapies. Yet another potential problem is that many different types of subjective assessments can be used to determine treatment outcomes; this makes it difficult to compare studies. An approach using mixed-methods including both quantitative and qualitative data, might prove vital to understanding the effects of Healing Touch.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

How exactly Healing Touch has an effect is currently unclear. The biofield has only recently begun to be measured. Future research in biofield therapies such as Healing Touch should continue to improve in rigor and detail, as well as investigate whether the effects of these therapies are comparable to the effects of other complementary modalities such as massage therapy.

In closing, though inconclusive, the results of the effects of Healing Touch are promising. It is encouraging that research is increasingly being done to address the effectiveness of therapies based on ancient healing practices involving the human energy field. The current challenge in this field of inquiry is to develop rigorous and replicable scientific research protocols that will demonstrate both the effectiveness and therapeutic capabilities of biofield therapies such as Healing Touch.

Therapeutic touch (TT) is hands-off aura massage, actual touch not included. It is the most common form of “energy medicine” left in a scientific and technological world, nearly synonymous with Japanese reiki. Auras and meridians don’t exist and can’t be felt, let alone massaged (or otherwise stimulated) for medical benefit.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

In North America and Europe, most therapeutic touch practitioners are massage therapists and — oddly — nurses. Many years ago I believed in TT (but that’s true of Santa Claus, too) and routinely offered it to patients in my massage therapy practice. Eventually I decided it was nonsense based only on wishful thinking, laughably naive references to quantum physics, and wide-eyed exaggeration of ordinary social interaction effects.


TT is pure vitalism, the belief in a soul or animating force — exactly like the Force in Star Wars, and just as fanciful. It’s about as intellectually bankrupt a theory as there has ever been, and it went broke many decades ago. Scientifically and philosophically, vitalism is now as outlandishly wrong as young Earth creationism. But it is certainly still thriving in alternative medicine and popular culture! Mental images like Mr. Miyagi healing Daniel so he could finish the big fight are deeply embedded in our collective consciousness, and to this day you can hardly read a book or go to a movie without finding some vitalistic idea beating at the centre of the story.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

And yet auras and life energy do not exist and cannot be felt, let alone manipulated therapeutically. It’s utter nonsense. Just as dousers and psychics have never passed a controlled test, TT practitioners cannot detect a person by feeling their aura,1 which makes them look ridiculous.

Other “energy medicine” modalities
This article focusses mainly on therapeutic touch and Reiki, but these topics overlap strongly with other forms of “energy medicine.” The main example of energy massage with touch is shiatsu/acupressure — acupuncture without needles, massage intended to stimulate acupuncture points.

Acupuncture itself is the undisputed king of vitalism in modern health care — which gets far more credit for being evidence-based than it actually deserves.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

Homeopathy is widely perceived to be a kind of exotic herbal medicine, not energy medicine, but the core concepts of homeopathy are based on pure magical thinking about physics, way further out in left field than most people realize.

T’ai chi and especially qi gong are widely used as both tonics and treatments. These are basically vitalistic exercise therapy: massaging your aura with movement.

Chiropractic is a surprising member of the energy medicine club: . Although many modern chiropractors have left vitalism far behind, the profession remains sharply divided, and the a major faction of “straight” chiropractors still believe the original big idea of chiro: that spinal adjustment is all about restoring the flow of life energy. Chiropractors are also the primary practitioners of “applied kinesiology,” a diagnostic method relying on vitalistic principles (and a classic perceptual illusion).Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

How it supposedly works
Practitioners often clumsily attempt to describe vitalistic beliefs as either beyond science,2 or validated by bleeding edge physics, or a bit of both. It’s a strong theme in all the bizarre and medically illiterate “shit 💩 massage therapists say.”3 These “arguments” never go deeper than the word quantum, or a clichéd deepity4 like “everything is energy” (more on these ideas below). They are hopelessly bereft of any actual science, and all equally depend on the hypothesis of an unknown form of energy that can be felt and manipulated but not actually detected by any other means. Keith Eric Grant is a physicist and massage instructor — likely the only one! — and he has written at length about the extreme implausibility of any unidentified form of bio-energy:Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

All the known forces depend on virtual particles to carry them (hence carrier particle) across space. For the electromagnetic force, the carrier particles are virtual photons. Electromagnetic radiation also is carried by photons. There has to be a physical means to get from here to there. A proposed new form of energy, a form of energy that interacts strongly with matter (of which human tissue is an instance), would require such a carrier particle. Reorganizing particle physics to include a new energy and its accompanying particle presumes that something that should have been obvious was overlooked in all the particle experiments analyzed over the years. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

~ Science and Energy, by Keith Eric Grant

That whole article is well worth a read, if you want to delve into this topic.

Certainly not all massage therapists believe in magic life energy. In fact, many consider it to be a crying shame and critical controversy in the future of their profession:Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

Saddling a perfectly good naturalistic practice like massage with repeatedly debunked supernatural faith in energy medicine is the single fastest path professional massage therapy could take to total irrelevance.

~ Ravensara Travillian, MT

Massage therapists, and others in the holistic arts … seem to be a particularly gullible bunch. And there are a lot of people who have seized upon that, and marketed their products, their classes, their modalities, and their wild claims to us … and many of us have fallen for it, hook, line and sinker … and unfortunately, gone on to convince our clients to buy into it, as well. … Our profession has turned into the snake oil medicine show.Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay

~ Excuse me, exactly how does that work?, by Laura Allen

TT is a culturally neutral subset of other, richer vitalistic folk medicine traditions, particularly Japanese reiki, which has been successfully exported around the world.5 There’s also lots of prana in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, and “chakra” — prana hot spots — became a household term in the 1960s. And of course there’s traditional Chinese medicine, which is obsessed with meridians of ch’ior life force.6 TT practitioners borrow liberally and inconsistently from all of these cultural traditions, but TT itself remains curiously bland: mostly just hand-waving around the body Touch and Hand-Mediated Therapies Essay