In a therapeutic sense, energy healing describes any therapy that aims to affect and impact the energy field: the ‘invisible forces in and around the body’ that many term as ‘personal space,’ but with compassion and positive intention—often in an effort to encourage the body’s natural ability to heal. The practice of energy healing can take many forms, but often involves gentle touch and guidance on breathing regulation.
Quoted in U.S. News & World Report, Diane Goldner, an energy healer in Santa Monica, California, uses the analogy of fixing a problem on a computer document: not by clicking into the specific document, but rather by altering something broader within the computer’s infrastructure. “It’s like opening a zip file and all the contents of the zip file open up,” states Goldner, who was once a skeptical journalist covering the topic, before she changed careers after becoming firmly convinced of the power of energy healing.
Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson, an integrative family medicine physician and co-director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine’s fellowship in integrative medicine, asserts that research in adults indicates that energy healing can not only decrease pain, but also increase relaxation, and even improve dementia symptoms and alleviate emotional suffering & distress. While the evidence is more limited in younger children, a specific clinical report on pediatric integrative medicine penned by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Integrative Medicine included biofield and energy therapies like ‘healing touch, therapeutic touch, and spiritual healing’ among safe and effective complementary & alternative medicine therapies for children.
Moreover, a 2012 study focused on pediatric cancer patients demonstrated that children who received ‘healing touch’ reported decreased fatigue, stress, and pain, along with their caregivers and families. An additional 2015 study of infants in the NICU found that measures of oxygen content in blood, heart rate, and pain significantly improved after receiving healing touch and massage. “When used in conjunction with conventional therapies, children get the best of all possible outcomes,” states Weydert, the chair-elect of the AAP’s Section on Integrative Medicine.
One of the primary reasons that energy healing might prove effective lies in its use of touch: largely attributable to the hormone oxytocin, which promotes and increases trust and social bonding, and helps regulate the body’s overall stress response. Chiasson says that the “right quality of touch…creates oxytocin the fastest…it has to be compassionate or caring or loving touch.”