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Is there real science behind healing touch? We asked an expert

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Summary: Experts say it works. Science says there are benefits. Discover what healing touch is and why it should be part of your wellness routine.

The reassuring squeeze of a hand. The silent understanding in a hug. A comforting arm around your shoulders.

Chances are, you know the feeling of warmth and solace these interactions bring. It’s at the heart of what “healing touch” is all about.

However, it’s not just any touch. Rather, it’s a type of energy therapy that can help balance and heal your body in ways you might not have imagined.

Everybody can heal themselves,” says Donna Eden, a pioneer in energy medicine and trainer of Mindvalley’s Energy Medicine Quest. And a great starting point is with the power of touch.

What is healing touch?

Healing touch is a nurturing energy therapy. A practitioner uses gentle hand placements to support a person’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being in a heart-centered and intentional way.

Unlike traditional medicine, healing touch focuses on the whole person, not just symptoms. It views us as energy fields interacting with the environment.

Our energies are electromagnetic. So if you align your energies up with somebody elses, you will move their energy.

— Donna Eden, trainer of Mindvalley’s Energy Medicine Quest

When this energy is imbalanced, it can affect our health, bringing about stress, anxiety, pain, emotional distress, and disturbed sleep, to name a few. Healing touch can help restore this balance, promoting a sense of peace and well-being.

What’s great about it is its flexibility—it can be used in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities. In massage therapy, for instance, it can help enhance the relaxation and healing effects of the treatment. And in sound healing sessions, it can amplify the harmonizing effects of sound on the body. 

Healing touch therapy vs. Reiki

Both healing touch therapy and Reiki share some core principles—they focus on manipulating the body’s energy field, believed to influence physical and emotional well-being. They also emphasize relaxation and stress reduction during sessions.

However, there are distinct characteristics that set the two apart. To give you a clearer picture, here’s a comparison:

FeatureHealing TouchReiki
ApproachStructured and varied techniques to assess and balance the human energy system.Focuses on stress reduction and relaxation, promoting the flow of life force energy.
TechniquesHands-on and hands-near-the-body methods to clear, energize, and balance energies.Practitioners channel life force energy to the recipient, primarily using hands-on healing.
PhilosophyBased on the interconnectivity of body, mind, and spirit and the healing potential of intentional touch.Emphasizes the self-healing ability of the body through the balancing of life force energy.

Both healing touch and Reiki offer unique benefits, making them valuable in their own right. And understanding these differences can help you choose which might be right for you.

A woman placing her hands on her heart

How does healing touch work?

The core idea of healing touch is to manipulate the energy field around the body. Practitioners use their hands to clear, energize, and balance the body’s meridians, helping the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

The thing is, we all have an energy field surrounding our bodies that’s capable of reflecting, absorbing, and emitting energy and light. And it’s believed to be interconnected with our physical health. So when it gets disrupted or unbalanced, it can lead to aches, pains, or even stress.

So practitioners do energy healing to restore that balance using various techniques, including:

  • Light touch: Gentle hand placements on or near specific areas of the body.
  • Scanning: Slow hand movements over the body, sensing imbalances in the energy field.
  • Non-touch techniques: Focusing their intention and directing energy from a distance.

Interestingly, there’s promising research suggesting the potential benefits of healing touch therapy. One study, for example, looked into the use of healing touch for patients recovering from laparoscopic bariatric surgery. It found that patients who received healing touch experienced significant reductions in pain, nausea, and anxiety compared to those who didn’t. 

This suggests that this kind of therapeutic touch can be a valuable tool to use alongside traditional medical care. It can help promote well-being and be a way to manage symptoms.

7 science-backed benefits of healing touch therapy

There’s a growing body of research exploring this holistic healing. Here are seven perks to highlight, backed up by science:

  • Reduces anxiety, tension, and stress
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves immune function
  • Eases the effects of trauma and PTSD
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Enhances sense of spiritual connection

The bottom line is, the body already knows how to heal, as Donna points out. “You just have to get the energy in alignment.”

It’s important to note that healing touch is not a replacement for conventional medicine. However, it can be a valuable complementary therapy to enhance your well-being and support your body’s natural healing abilities.

What to expect from a healing touch therapy session

Curious about what happens during a healing touch session? Here’s what it can look like:

  • The Setting: Sessions typically take place in a calming and comfortable environment, often resembling a massage therapy room. You’ll remain fully clothed throughout the session.
  • The Process: The practitioner will likely begin with a consultation, discussing your health concerns and goals. They’ll then guide you to lie comfortably on a massage table or sit in a chair.
  • The Touch: Unlike massage, this approach involves gentle hand placements on or near your body or even light-scanning movements to assess your energy field. Many people report feeling deeply relaxed or even falling asleep during the session. Additionally, it’s common to experience sensations like warmth, tingling, or a sense of release.
  • The Duration: Healing touch sessions typically last 45 minutes to an hour.

Keep in mind that this type of therapy is a collaborative effort. Feel free to communicate openly with your practitioner about any questions or discomfort you might experience during the session.

3 healing touch therapy exercises to try from energy healer Donna Eden

Energy is your life force, according to Donna. She would know, being an expert in energy medicine and all. As a matter of fact, it gives you “tools to stay happy, healthy, and vital.”

Here are three exercises she teaches in her Quest on Mindvalley:

3 Ways to Release Stress & Anxiety Using Energy Medicine | Donna Eden

1. Forehead Hold

When you get stressed, you can lose, well, you lose a lot of blood from your forebrain that goes into the body for the fight-or-flight response,” says Donna. So since the electromagnetic nature of your hand acts like a magnet, it can help pull blood into the area, helping you regain mental clarity.

How do you do it? It’s as simple as placing your palm on your forehead for a few minutes.

For deeper stress relief, consider placing both hands on your forehead, with your fingertips touching and your thumbs resting gently on your temples. These points, known as neurovascular points, can further aid in lifting you out of a stressed state when held gently while contemplating your stressors.

2. Heart Chakra Tap

Healing touch can go hand-in-hand with chakra healing. Your practitioner can use techniques to align your chakras, which ultimately will help balance your energies.

The heart chakra is the energy that bathes the heart,” says David Feinstein, a clinical psychologist and Donna’s husband. “And the heart is all about your deep emotions.”

Here’s how you do it: Place one hand over your heart chakra, located at the upper chest, and with the other hand, begin tapping between the fourth and fifth fingers on the outside edge.

This spot correlates with the meridian line for the “triple warmer,” which governs the fight, flight, or freeze responses.

By tapping it, it engages both the heart chakra and the triple warmer simultaneously. And as you do it while thinking about what stresses you, you interrupt the stress response, promoting a sense of calm.

3. Energy Blow-Out

When you get very stressed, there’s a buildup of stress chemicals in your body that you really need to move out of your body,” says Donna.

So start by thinking about your stressor while standing with your arms extended in front of you, fists clenched. Inhale deeply, then, with a forceful exhalation, throw your arms upwards and outwards, imagining the stress being expelled from your body.

This movement helps to clear your central meridian of negative energy. What’s more, it engages multiple energy systems, including your chakras and the penetrating flow, to facilitate a complete energy cleanse.

FAQ

Is healing touch effective?

Yes, healing touch is effective. Numerous studies and personal testimonials support the efficacy of healing touch in reducing stress, managing pain, speeding up recovery from surgery, and improving overall well-being.

It’s a complementary therapy, meaning it can be used alongside traditional medical treatments to enhance healing.

Is healing touch safe?

This approach is a non-invasive, gentle therapy. So it can be considered safe for most people.

However, like any therapeutic practice, there are instances where caution is advised, or it may require special consideration. Here are some scenarios where healing touch could potentially pose concerns or where specific precautions should be taken:

  • Individuals with severe mental health issues, such as psychosis or severe depression. While healing touch can promote relaxation and emotional balance, it’s not a substitute for psychiatric care or medications prescribed for mental health disorders.
  • Individuals with pacemakers or other electronic medical devices. Healing touch works with the body’s energy field. Although there’s no evidence it interferes with these devices, to be safe, talk to your doctor before starting therapy if you have any electronic medical devices.
  • Individuals who’ve had recent surgery or physical injuries. Even though healing touch is gentle, some techniques might involve touching certain areas. If you’ve recently had surgery or have injuries, let the practitioner know beforehand so they can adjust the techniques if needed.
  • Cancer patients. Healing touch can be helpful, especially in managing stress and side effects from treatments. However, talk to your oncologist first to make sure healing touch fits with your overall treatment plan and let you know if there are any times to avoid it.
  • Pregnancy. It’s generally safe in this instance, but your doctor can advise you on whether it’s right for you, especially if you have any pregnancy complications.

How much does healing touch cost?

Healing touch sessions can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 in the U.S., but the price can vary depending on a few things.

  • The practitioner’s training,
  • Their experience, and
  • Their location.

The good news is, some practitioners offer sliding scale fees, meaning the cost is based on your income. This makes this type of approach more affordable for everyone.

Additionally, some healing touch programs might partner with hospitals or clinics. This means your insurance might cover some of the cost, but only if a doctor says this therapy is medically necessary for you.

So here’s what to keep in mind before you book an appointment: ask the practitioner about their background. This includes which healing touch program they trained with. Knowing this can give you a better idea of their experience and what kind of techniques they’ll use during your sessions.

Live vibrantly, naturally

Healing touch is just one step into the realm of energy medicine. As you explore more into the side of holistic and energy therapies, you’ll find that it opens up new pathways to well and balanced life.

Energy is the language that your body speaks,” says Donna. And if you want to better communicate with this vessel your soul lives in, you can learn how to in Mindvalley’s Energy Medicine masterclass with Donna herself as well as her husband, David Feinstein.

Everyone has the ability to heal themselves, as Donna says. Even you.

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Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Donna Eden, trainer of Mindvalley's "Energy Medicine" and "The Energies of Love" Quests
Expertise by

Donna Eden, born with the unique ability to see human body energies, discovered her healing powers at 27 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Rejecting a grim prognosis from doctors, she healed herself through energy manipulation.

Donna has since dedicated over 40 years to teaching Energy Medicine, aiming to make it accessible to all. She co-runs the world’s largest Energy Medicine school with her husband, David Feinstein, Ph.D., and is a leading figure in the field in America. Her contributions include The New York Times best seller, The Energies of Love, among other books, influencing over 100,000 people, including healthcare professionals.

Donna also shares her expertise through Mindvalley’s Energy Medicine and The Energies of Love quests, further expanding her impact on those seeking holistic wellness solutions.

How we reviewed this article
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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.