Healing Touch Heals PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition often experienced by individuals who have experienced or witnessed a tragedy. The events leading to PTSD can be anything from experiencing injury in an automobile accident to participating in combat in a military zone.

The symptoms, ranging from anxiety and depression to recurring flashbacks, can be difficult to treat. However, a new study by researchers at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine shows that using a touch intervention may help patients with PTSD recover more quickly than using more traditional treatments.

The study provides evidence that healing touch therapy in combination with guided imagery significantly reduced the occurrence of PTSD in Marines returning from active-duty.

When military personnel received the complementary interventions, they were more likely to experience an improvement in the quality of daily life, in addition to a reduction in both cynicism and depression, when their outcomes were compared to those of soldiers who received only treatment as customary.

The randomized controlled trial, designed by Dr. Mimi Guarneri and Rauni King, R.N., was conducted at Camp Pendleton with returning active-duty Marines, in California between July 2008 and August 2010. The soldiers were placed randomly into one of two groups. The first received treatment as usual (TAU) for symptoms of PTSD, while the other received TAU in addition to healing touch (HT).

Healing touch is a treatment conducted by a practitioner, with a goal of eliciting the patient’s own response for healing. It is combined with guided imagery (GI), which is a therapy that aims to help the patient learn relaxation while developing self-esteem and trust.

The study showed that those who participated in the guided imagery and healing touch treatment had a significant reduction with PTSD symptoms following only six sessions with a Scripps practitioner. This occurred within only three weeks.

The therapy not only improved PTSD symptoms among the 68 who received touch therapy and guided imagery, but improved them to a degree that they no longer met criteria for PTSD diagnosis. The therapy made a significant difference.

In order to qualify for participation, the individuals screened had to exhibit a minimum of one major symptom of PTSD, such as the re-experiencing of trauma through flashbacks, exaggerated emotional responses, insomnia, or nightmares.

Healing touch is a non-invasive type of treatment that relies on energy-based treatment to restore balance to the human biofield. This can help decrease the experience of pain and speed the healing process. It is frequently used following surgery and to encourage relaxation and decrease anxiety.

Guided imagery is the use of the imagination in reducing stress and improving overall well-being, in addition to relieving pain.

The use of healing touch and guided imagery may offer new alternatives to help speed the process of healing following a tragedy that introduces symptoms of PTSD.