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Therapeutic touch

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Title: Therapeutic touch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Energy medicine, Reiki, List of forms of alternative medicine, Vitalism, List of MeSH codes (E02)
Collection: Biofield Therapies, Energy Therapies, Parapsychology, Pseudoscience, Spirituality
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Therapeutic touch

Therapeutic touch
Energy medicine
NCCIH classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Mind-Body Intervention
  3. Biologically Based Therapy
  4. Energy Therapy
See also

Therapeutic touch (commonly shortened to "TT"), known by some as "non-contact therapeutic touch" (NCTT),[1] is a pseudoscientific energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. "Therapeutic Touch" is a registered trademark in Canada for the "[s]tructured and standardized healing practice performed by practitioners trained to be sensitive to the receiver's energy field that surrounds the body; touching is required."[2]

Practitioners of therapeutic touch state that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the patient's energy field.[3] One highly cited study, designed by the then-nine-year-old Emily Rosa and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998, found that practitioners of therapeutic touch could not detect the presence or absence of a hand placed a few inches above theirs when their vision was obstructed.[4][5][6][7] Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst concluded in their 2008 book Trick or Treatment that "the energy field was probably nothing more than a figment in the imaginations of the healers".[8] The American Cancer Society has noted, "Available scientific evidence does not support any claims that TT can cure cancer or other diseases."[9] A 2014 Cochrane review found no good evidence that it helped with wound healing.[10]


  • Origin and foundations 1
  • Scientific investigations 2
  • Therapeutic touch and nursing education 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Origin and foundations

Dora Kunz, a theosophy promoter and one-time president (1975–1987) of the Theosophical Society in America, and Dolores Krieger, now Professor Emerita of Nursing Science, New York University,[11] developed therapeutic touch in the 1970s.[3][12][13][14] According to Krieger, therapeutic touch has roots in ancient healing practices,[15] such as the laying on of hands, although it has no connection with religion or with faith healing. Krieger states that, "in the final analysis, it is the healee (client) who heals himself. The healer or therapist, in this view, acts as a human energy support system until the healee's own immunological system is robust enough to take over".[16]

Justification for TT has been sought in two fields: Martha E. Rogers' contemporal "Science of Unitary Human Beings", and quantum mechanics, in particular Fritjof Capra's mystical interpretation of the latter. A 2002 review found that neither justification was tenable: Rogers' theories were found to be inconsistent with the tenets of TT, while the overlap in terminology between the two could be ascribed to a lack of precision in Rogers' works, making them multi-interpretable. The quantum physics justification holds that the possibility to heal at a distance is possible due to a "global interconnectivity" of the universe, which is connected by TT adherents to an interpretation of Bell's theorem and the possibility of quantum nonlocality; this interpretation is not supported by experimental evidence. The 2002 study concluded that "the theory TT possesses is deprived of explanatory power" and "evidence that supports the current picture of physical energy should be regarded as evidence against the theory of TT".[17]

The healing in TT takes place via a supposed physical process called "electron transfer resonance", which physicist Alan Sokal describes as "nonsense".[18]

Scientific investigations


A systematic review on the effectiveness of various distance healing techniques concluded that "The methodologic limitations of several studies make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the efficacy of distant healing. However ... the evidence thus far merits further study."[1]

A Cochrane systematic review found "[t]here is no robust evidence that TT promotes healing of acute wounds."[10]

The American Cancer Society has noted, "Available scientific evidence does not support any claims that TT can cure cancer or other diseases."[9]

Therapeutic touch and nursing education

Sokal, in 2006, reported estimates of over 80 colleges and universities spread over 70 countries where therapeutic touch is taught, as well as some 80 hospitals in North America where it is practiced. He added that "[s]upporters and critics of TT are in general agreement as to these basic facts; [...] [n]evertheless, these figures should be taken with a grain of salt, inasmuch as both advocates and detractors [...] have an interest in exaggerating its incidence".[18]

Owen Hammer and James Underdown from the Independent Investigations Group examined nursing standards in California, where the California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN) can award registered nurses taking classes in therapeutic touch with continuing education units (CEUs) required for licensure renewal. In 2006 Hammer and Underdown presented the Board with the scientific evidence refuting the validity of therapeutic touch as a legitimate treatment, but the Board did not change its policy.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Canadian Trade-marks database, Registration No. TMA580182.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c Why Therapeutic Touch Should Be Considered Quackery by Stephen Barrett, M.D.
  13. ^ Theos-Talk Archives (April 2005 Message tt00332)
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ Therapeutic touch, on season 8 , episode 2 of Scientific American Frontiers.
  20. ^

External links

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