Touch Therapy / Therapeutic Touch®

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How can Touch Therapy / Therapeutic Touch® help you?

You might use Touch Therapy / Therapeutic Touch® to:

  • Reduce pain.
  • Help relieve or reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Help wounds heal faster.
  • Improve immune system function.
  • Help reduce nausea, fatigue, and other side effects of chemotherapy.
  • Improve symptoms of chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and lupus.
  • Reduce fatigue and get better sleep. (HealthLine)
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According to the Oxford Dictionary, Touch Therapy (or Therapeutic Touch®) is a type of therapeutic treatment in which the Therapist or Practitioner “physically touches the subject in a specific way, including reflexology and various forms of massage.”

Touch Therapy belongs to the broad category of Energy Healing, which includes things Acupuncture, Tai Chi, and Reiki. These approaches all operate on the premise that the body has a natural energy field that ties into the mind-body connection and plays a part in wellness.

According to Energy Healing Theory, you’ll typically enjoy good health when energy flows easily throughout the body. Any imbalances or disruptions in the energy flow, however, can contribute to illness, pain, mental health symptoms, and other distress.

In Touch Therapy, Practitioners use their hands to manipulate and direct the flow of energy—known as the biofield—throughout your body in order to promote healing and restore your body’s ability to heal itself.

Is Touch Therapy the same thing as Healing Touch?

The terminology around Touch Therapy can be a bit confusing, and it can mean different things to different people. Some consider it an umbrella term for a variety of practices, including both Healing Touch (HT) and Therapeutic Touch® (TT). Others use it as a synonym for TT. Both HT and TT were developed by nurses and have similar treatment goals, but they differ in a few key ways.

Therapeutic Touch® was developed by Dolores Krieger in the 1970s.

Despite the name, Practitioners may not actually touch you during the session. Instead, they often hold their hands a few inches above your body, though they might use direct touch in some cases. (HealthLine)


Therapeutic Touch® is a holistic, evidence-based practice that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being. It is a consciously directed process of energy exchange during which the Practitioner uses the hands as a focus to facilitate the process.

Therapeutic Touch® was developed in the early 1970s through the pioneering work of Dolores Krieger, PhD, RN, a professor at New York University, and Dora Kunz, a natural healer.

Therapeutic Touch® is a scientifically based practice. Experimental research has been conducted at major hospital centers and universities by scientists in nursing and related fields. Some of this research has been funded by the National Institutes for Health (US). As scientists began to study various forms of healing in the mid 1900’s, the focus began to shift to more natural methods. In 1971, Krieger and Kunz conducted experiments to examine the effects of healers on humans in an analytical way…

Together, they developed the curriculum for teaching a method of healing which became known as Therapeutic Touch® (and later, also called Touch Therapy). This course, called “Frontiers in Nursing,” was initially taught to nurses at New York University’s Master’s program. Since 1972 it has been taught in more than 80 colleges and approximately 90 countries.

Therapeutic Touch® is simple, and creates a personal connection between the healer and the patient. It can be taught to anyone, and is often taught to the families of patients. Although it has been said that you must “believe” in it for Therapeutic Touch® to work, it has been used successfully with premature babies and patients in comas. In fact, patients coming out of a coma for the first time have spoken the nicknames of the nurses who practiced Therapeutic Touch® on them! There are now over 100,000 people trained in Therapeutic Touch® in the United States, Canada, and around the world. (Therapeutic Touch® International Association, US)

Based on ancient healing practices, Therapeutic Touch® is a safe treatment approach that works well with other Complementary and Western Healthcare Approaches. The goal of this practice is to help you relax, relieve your pain, and heal faster.

Therapeutic Touch® is thought to promote healing through restoring harmony to your energy fields. Therapeutic Touch is used in many settings, including hospice palliative care.

When beginning a session, the Practitioner first takes a few moments to get centered, calming his or her own mind, then accessing a sense of compassion to become fully present with you.

During the treatment, the Practitioner may place his or her hands lightly on your body or slightly above it. As the Practitioner seeks to bring your energy fields into balance, he or she often makes sweeping hand motions above your body.

Some people who receive Therapeutic Touch say they have a refreshed spirit, heal faster, and feel better.

Explore the Research

We believe you should have access to high-quality research to help you make informed health decisions. Below are four trusted databases you can use as tools to expand your healthcare knowledge.