ISSN 1538-1080

Empathy, Intention, and Attunement in Healing Touch (HT): A Small Phenomenological Study

Empathy, Intention, and Attunement in Healing Touch (HT): A Small Phenomenological Study


Objective: To explore patients lived experience and process of receiving Healing Touch (HT) biofield therapy during serious illness. The intent was to document the full range of outcomes experienced by the patients; most notably, whether the use of energy healing transformed the patients self-perceptions, attitudes, thoughts, emotions and behaviors regarding their illnesses and recoveries. Setting: The setting for this study was The Rothfeld Center, an integrative medical practice located in the Boston metro area. Subjects/Sample: Four women, ages 25-60, who were current patients of The Rothfeld Center, and presently experiencing or recovering from serious illnesses. Design: The study was a single trial 6-session qualitative phenomenological study. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants during their last appointment to elicit information about their lived experience and perceptions of receiving Healing Touch (HT) during chronic illness. All data was subject to content analysis. Intervention: The treatment consisted of six thirty-minute Healing Touch (HT) sessions provided by a certified Levels 1 and 2 Healing Touch (HT) student. Treatments contained elements common to all sessions, and interventions were tailored to the individual subject based on information gathered during intake. Each session included fifteen minutes of patient intake/uptake in addition to the thirty minutes of treatment/intervention. Results: All of the subjects experienced notable quantitative shifts in physical symptoms (less pain, reduced medications), significant experiences of patient/practitioner attunement and empathy, and profound transformations in their attitudes and behaviors concerning their illness. A surprising finding of the study was that these experiences and benefits were not realized during subjects previous/other experiences of biofield modalities and holistic therapies. This strongly suggests that the patients transformational experiences in the study were not due exclusively to the application of the intervention itself, but to other factors within the sessions such as guided intention and/or the HT provided by the therapist. Conclusion: The findings of the study indicate that the use of directed intention, a conscious decision on the part of the patient to shift their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as a possible key factor in facilitating patient/practitioner attunement and empathy, initiating patient empowerment, and making the experience of biofield modalities transformational and effective for the patient.

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