Check out other articles about complementary therapies and palliative care. The first was on the power of music at the end of life, the second was on the role of art therapy in palliative care, and a final post on the comforting touch of palliative massage therapy.

Our series on complementary therapies and palliative care continues with a post from Marion Cameron, a Therapeutic Touch practitioner.

Therapeutic Touch (TT) is an energy-based therapy in which practitioners use their hands to interact with the energy to restore wholeness to the field. It is used for persons with many different conditions, but the basic approach and theory is the same in all sessions. TT has been used for many years and is very effective during the end of life process.

I learned about TT in the 1980s while nursing in North Vancouver, B.C. It intrigued me right away, as the R.N. during the in-service spoke about reducing pain and anxiety in her cardiac patients. Her demonstration also seemed like a rather simple process. It has been a part of my life ever since. I use it in my nursing practice almost on a daily basis but also in many other situations.

I love TT because the practitioner does not have to touch the person physically. The exchange or interaction is through the energy field which is scanned with the hands a few inches away from the body to sense where the blockages are. Anyone has the innate ability to sense the energy, as universal energy surrounds us and each living thing is made up of a complex mesh of energy.

Dis-ease is caused by blockages in the energy field. The TT practitioner through learned techniques and a conscious desire to help someone else, facilitates the energy to flow freely and restore balance physically, emotionally and spiritually. A TT session is very effective in eliciting the relaxation response, relieving anxiety, and helping with pain control.

TT is a gentle approach and you don’t need any equipment – just your hands and the intention and compassion to help someone else. During a session you can see the facial muscles relax and many fall asleep. Responses to a session can vary. Sometimes the person doesn’t want to be touched so TT is the perfect therapy. It doesn’t interfere with any medical happenings at the time.

In palliative care, basic techniques can be taught to the family who often want to be “doing something” for their loved one. TT brings a sense of calm and peace to the bedside for patient and family. TT is used in many hospices across Canada to promote quality of end-of-life care.

Written by Marion Cameron. Marion has been a practitioner since the 1980s and was on the executive of the Therapeutic Touch Network of Alberta. To learn more:

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