Therapeutic Touch (TT) is a form of “energy healing” popular in the American nursing community. In the words of its official organization, “Therapeutic Touch is an intentionally directed process of energy exchange during which the practitioner uses the hands as a focus to facilitate the healing process.” 1 TT is used by nurses in a variety of settings, from the office to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). However, there is as yet no meaningful evidence that it is effective.

Therapeutic Touch was developed in the early 1970s by two people: Dolores Krieger, PhD, RN, and a self-professed healer named Dora Van Gelder Kunz. At first, TT involved setting the hands lightly on the body of the patient, but the method rapidly evolved into a non-contact, “energy healing” method. Today certified practitioners can be found in virtually all parts of the U.S. and in much of the world. TT is available in mainstream health care facilities including hospices, hospital-based alternative health programs, and even ICUs.

Therapeutic Touch is sometimes described as a scientific version of “laying on of hands,” a technique practiced by faith healers. However, there is more spirituality than science to this method; it makes use of beliefs and principles common in spiritual healing traditions but alien to current science culture.

According to TT, the body has an “energy field,” and, without physical contact, the energy field of one person can substantially affect the energy field of another. The practitioner is said to heal, balance, replenish, and improve the flow of the patient’s energy field, thereby leading to enhanced overall wellness. However, there is no meaningful scientific evidence for any of these beliefs.