In a recent study, researchers found that by adding a short course of healing touch and guided imagery to the standard treatment of PTSD, the results were far better than with standard treatments alone. Imagine how well these therapies can work for you!
Stress, anxiety, pain, nausea and many other symptoms have been effectively treated with guided imagery and healing touch. You can combine them together (as in this study), you can use them with other helpful therapies (i.e. acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy, etc.) or by themselves.
What is healing touch (or therapeutic touch)?
Healing touch is an “energy therapy” (also known as a ‘biofield therapy’) in which practitioners use gentle hand techniques to clear, energize, and balance the energy field that surrounds the patient’s body to support and facilitate physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
The theory of how therapeutic touch works is that it removes “blockages and stagnant, harmful energy in the patient’s energy fields. The absence of free flowing energy or the presence of harmful energy is believed to cause pain, illness and disease. The practitioner is thought to serve as a channel of life energy by transferring his/her own excess healthy energy to the patient.”
In a healing touch session, the practitioner begins with a centering process to calm the mind, access a sense of compassion, and become fully present with the patient. The practitioner (most commonly practiced by nurses) then focuses intention on the patient’s highest good and places his or her hands lightly on the patient’s body or makes sweeping hands motions above the body.
There are no proven ways to measure this ‘biofield energy’ or the energy moving effects of healing touch practitioners. (read more about a question I am often asked: ‘what is the difference between healing touch versus reiki’?)
Practitioners of healing touch and their patients report that this therapy helps to reduce anxiety, stress and pain.
What is guided imagery?
Guided imagery is a visualization technique, referred to as a “focused daydream” by some practitioners, which helps patients to focus on positive images, sounds, and smells to help them with side effects and symptoms. Guided imagery practitioners will teach patients general relaxation exercises and help them build detailed images in their minds.
One of the visualizations I love to have my patients imagine is that of their cancer cells being destroyed by their immune system cells as they “gobble them up” like “Pac Man.” In fact, there is a great children’s’ video game that role plays a fictitious miniature character that travels through the body, fighting cancer cells.
Studies have shown that practicing guided imagery may be able to:
- temporarily increase numbers of immune system cells to keep the rest of your body healthy
- help reduce feelings of depression
- increase feelings of well-being (promote relaxation, reduce stress & anxiety)
- reduce pain & nausea
Guided imagery can be done in one-on-one sessions with a therapist, in group sessions or alone (using DVD’s, CD’s or your own imagination.)
Learn more about guided imagery by one of my favorite practitioners, Belleruth Naparstek. Check out the guided imagery products on her site (enter the keyword ‘cancer’ in the search box to find lots of great stuff.)
**Learn more about stress and cancer on our stress and cancer 101 article**