After three sessions of Healing Touch, 12 of 13 people with chronic headaches experienced an improvement in frequency, intensity or duration of pain, and 11 of these people reported “transformative changes,” according to recent research.

The study, “An HMO-Based Prospective Pilot Study of Energy Medicine for Chronic Headaches: Whole-Person Outcomes Point to the Need for New Instrumentation,” involved 13 people with chronic pain, recruited from the Kaiser Permanente Northwest Pain Clinic.
Subjects involved in the study reported an average duration of pain of about 14 years. Participants had been treated for chronic pain at the Kaiser Permanente Northwest Pain Clinic, which is also where they received the Healing Touch sessions.

Each subject received at least three of these energy healing sessions at approximately weekly intervals. All sessions were provided by the same Certified Healing Touch Practitioner, who had also been “deeply engaged in a personal spiritual practice for more than a decade.” According to the researchers, “this is considered important in energy healing, although its impact is still being established.”

Each Healing Touch session involved several consistent approaches, as well as energy healing tailored to the subject’s individual state. These sessions began with a brief “mind clearance,” followed by a “full body connection.”

After this, the sessions were customized to the subjects. The Healing Touch consisted of both on-body and off-body energy work, conducted mostly in silence, lasting about 30 to 40 minutes.

Assessments took place before the first Healing Touch session, to collect baseline data, and also after the last session and three months later. The assessments involved the collection of qualitative data, obtained through open-ended, audiotaped interviews lasting roughly one hour.
“The overall goal of this content analysis was to obtain direct information from study participants regarding their experience of the healing process, and to begin to assess the effectiveness of the therapy,” state the study’s authors.

In the interviews, 12 of the 13 subjects reported improvement in headache pain following the third Healing Touch session. Eleven of the subjects also reported experiential changes at this point in the study, such as shifts in self-awareness and attitudes toward life.
“A brief Healing Touch intervention by a spiritually attuned practitioner resulted in improvements in headache pain, as well as potentially transformative shifts and whole-person outcomes,” state the study’s authors. “The challenge for future research is to develop instruments to collect consistent outcome information on the various aspects of whole-person, transformative change.”

Authors: Elizabeth G. Sutherland, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, Susan J. Kiley, Nancy Vuckovic and Charles Elder.

Sources: Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, Oregon; University of Arizona Department of Family and Community Medicine, Tucson, Arizona; Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, Oregon; Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, Oregon. Originally published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2009) 15(8): 819-826.