Ellen Gecker, Orion Wellness
When I was in graduate school to get a Master’s degree in nursing, we had a class on therapeutic touch. The students paired up and gently hovered our hands over the assigned partner from head to toe, not actually touching them, just feeling the heat and energy they emitted in different parts of their body. I was amazed to find that I could tell where they were feeling some symptoms.
I have to admit that although I was impressed by the technique, I didn’t do anything with it in my career. But many decades later, I was officially trained and certified in Reiki, one of the therapeutic touch methods. Actually, there are quite a few different methods under different names, but they all are similar.
What’s done is that the person doing the technique, called the practitioner, holds their hands, palm down, over the person’s body or actually touching their body very lightly. They hold their hands still for several minutes over each part of the body, then move it down to the next part. If they feel that there is something abnormal, they can focus on that body part for extra time. During this time, the client lays on a massage table fully clothed, closes their eyes, and listens to peaceful music. They may be asked to do some deep breathing exercises and some visualizations of something very peaceful or healing.
So, what does it do for the client? Well, there are conflicting reports about it and scientific studies are still being done. It is supposed to bring the person’s energy field into better balance. Some claim that it helps with healing, pain, and anxiety, although the client’s own body makes the changes, not the person doing the therapeutic touch. It also seems to help people who are dying. What it doesn’t do is treat specific diseases and it isn’t a substitute for traditional medical care.
So, let’s take the example of Roger, who has bone cancer. He probably has pain, anxiety, tension in his muscles from stress, side effects of the treatments and medication, and poor energy and stamina. Do you think he could use something that will bring him some relief? Therapeutic touch sessions could help him with pain, tension, anxiety, and possibly some of his other symptoms.
Let me tell you about my personal experience with Reiki. Quite a few years ago I was having tension headaches every single day, which is a miserable way to live. A friend of mine was in the process of being trained in Reiki, which I had barely heard of and didn’t know anything about. I asked her to give me a short sample of it, just so I could see what it was. She did Reiki on my head and neck for less than ten minutes. It felt really nice, but the best part was that my headaches went away for a month. Not one tension headache during that time. You can bet that I became a fan of the technique.
Since that time, I have had several trainings in Reiki. I personally have never felt anything as relaxing and calming as the therapist’s hands lightly on my head, arms, legs, upper chest, and abdomen over my clothes. And I mean never. I’m not as much of a fan of the method of hovering the hands over the body and not actually touching, but each to our own.
Reiki or other therapeutic touch techniques are generally not covered by insurance, just like massage sessions. But if you can afford it out of pocket, I highly recommend that you have a session, or better yet, do it once a month. It’s good for your mental and physical health.