The Healing Power of Touch

Human touch is almost as necessary to life as air, water and food. Some people might argue that it is as important. We need to be held by our parents or a caregiver when we are newborns and as children we look for hugs when we fall and scrape our knees. As adults, we still need to be touched–in appropriate and healthy ways, of course.

Perhaps that’s why many hospitals worldwide have started incorporating therapeutic touch, Reiki, and other forms of healing touch into hospice care. As an example, the The Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire has provided well over 8,000 Reiki treatments to patients since 1995. Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) is a Japanese healing art that involves laying-on of hands to channel universal healing energy through the practitioner to the recipient. The word “Reiki” is Japanese for “universal life energy.”

The highly successful Reiki program, started by Patricia Alandydy, BSN, RN, offers Reiki treatments in every department of the hospital. Now, patients can have Reiki alongside more conventional surgeries, radiation, and other treatments.

And research is documenting the positive healing effects of Reiki and healing touch on diseases like cancer, heart disease, endocrine disorders, immune disorders, orthopedic conditions and injuries, pain, post-operative recovery, and psychological disorders. In one study at St. Clare’s Center for Complementary Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Oncology Complementary Medicine Pilot Porgram, complementary therapies of meditation, healing touch, reflexology, Reiki, massage, and acupuncture were administered to outpatients. Patients who received Reiki or healing touch showed an average reduction in pain by 48 percent.

In a study of 48 patients who had total knee replacement surgery, along with pain and mobility impairment, those who experienced healing touch showed 30.6 percent greater mobility only 2 days after the surgery than those who had only conventional therapy, and 27 percent greater mobility than those people who experienced a placebo-type version of healing touch therapy.

The power of touch to heal is immense. In a world driven primarily by work and responsibilities, touch therapy has the capacity to help us slow down, experience the compassion of another human being, and heal our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Ready to Try Healing Touch?

Here are some tips to help you get the most from your healing touch session.

1. Speak to the therapeutic touch, Reiki, or other type of healing touch practitioner before going for a session. Ask for insight into the practitioner’s background, approach, and what the session will entail. You want to be sure that you are comfortable with the person.

2. Ask what approach the practitioner takes (hands on or off the body, whether he or she incorporates music, chanting or silence) and decide whether you are comfortable with that approach.

3. Reiki treatments are carried out with the client fully clothed. You may want to ask for a blanket before starting the session, though, because it is common to feel cooler while experiencing these types of therapies.

4. For some people, healing touch evokes an emotional response. If so, do not suppress it. Most practitioners realize that a person may be moved to tears during a session.

5. Go slowly when your session is finished. Take some time to integrate the therapy.

6. Drink plenty of water afterward. Most healing touch practitioners feel that the body needs more water than usual after the session to assist with detoxification and integration.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, ROHP, RNCP is a best-selling and six-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan. Learn more at:

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Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

Yuk! I hate physical contact!

Ana R3 years ago

Thank you, Michelle:)

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S.3 years ago

I think reiki is complete BS...tried it once and felt nothing....

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M.4 years ago

good summary

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Philippa P.
Philippa P.5 years ago

Personally, reflexology is my choice for massage.

George Collip
George Collip5 years ago

just finished my first visit to the biannual conference of the Reflexology Association of America held in Denver have never met so many caring and dedeicated healers my partner and i were therw to publisize her new book Gentle Touch Reflexology for Babies and Children designed for mothers ,grannies and Reflexologists we sold all the books we were able to bring to the states with us .
How i wish we could all work together to at least aid the very young i feel that by using ALL holistic healing s we can create a healthyier future for the children of the world

Julie F.
Julie F.5 years ago

I'm glad we are moving toward natural therapies.