A Doctor's Guide to Therapeutic Touch

A Doctor's Guide to Therapeutic Touch

by Susan Wager
New York: Perigee Books/Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996. Pp. xix + 154. Paper.

Therapeutic Touch is a concept of which I have been aware since its inception. It is such an intriguing, practical and simple system for helping those with illness that I have followed its growth with great interest and am delighted to see this book come out. While it is titled "a doctor's guide," it is really very appropriate for anyone who is interested in the subject, lay or professional.

Therapeutic Touch has been likened to the laying on of hands, but is quite different both in its basic concept and its application, as you will see when reading this book. The fact that there is healing energy all around us which can be applied universally when understood is the theme of the system, This energy can be transmitted to an ill person through properly trained individuals who allow it to flow through them and our their hands to the energy fields surrounding the person in need.

This healing technique is done selflessly with total lack of feeling of any power on the part of the practitioners, who see themselves as only the instrument or conduit for the energy. In the last twenty years since the practice was formally started by Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger, its spread has been quite phenomenal and scientific studies to validate its authenticity have been widespread.

Susan Wager has written a book which is dear, easy to understand, and thorough in its description of the system and its application. Its purpose appears to be to expand awareness and understanding of the concept, and it is written in a way which is simple yet profound. Her references are well documented and the personal experiences of various authorities whom she quotes make the reader feel an actual participant in some of the events.

Too often we are prone to pass over or skip entirely the opening section of a book in order to get to the "meat" of it. The introduction (written by Dora Kunz), the preface, and chapter 1 of this book are very important, and a careful reading of this scene-setting beginning will enhance what follows. The fact that the practice is becoming so widely accepted both in the United States and in other countries, and in so many situations, seems to validate its worth.

Briefly, the aspects covered in the book are the presence of energy fields in nature, .present-day ideas on healing, methods used in applying Therapeutic Touch, effects that have resulted, and special areas where results seem most helpful.

Throughout history, whenever a new method of approaching problems has been introduced, there has been conflict of opinion as to its worth among specialists in the field; Therapeutic Touch is no exception. I am sure that is why Susan Wager has waited this long to publish her experiences and understanding. She has allowed sufficient time for scientific studies to be conducted, so she can include their results in her presentation.

No claim is made that Therapeutic Touch provides a miracle cute in any situation. It is made very clear that the recommendation is for the practice to be combined with and supplementary to medical treatment. In this framework it is fast becoming an accepted method of contributing to the growing ability to assist individuals with their health problems.

The central idea of Therapeutic Touch is that human beings are whole entities comprised of physical bodies, thoughts, and feelings. For quite a while, the medical profession not only fragmented the three areas, treating them as mutually exclusive, but also separated organs and functions of the physical body, not considering their interrelatedness in treatment. Recently this has changed, and it is now widely accepted that all aspects of the person affect each other.

In keeping with the new medical view of wholeness, this book describes how Therapeutic Touch recognizes this wholeness and may help the patient on all levels. Even when cure is not possible, this treatment often assists in relieving stress and mental anguish to an extent that the physical pain is much more bearable. It also seems to strengthen the link between doctor and patient and to provide a greater feeling of personal worth in those involved.

The book ends with this statement: "These different approaches to healing need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, as we move into the future and medicine becomes even more high-tech, Therapeutic Touch becomes an important addition to our care of the sick, because it maintains the human connection between practitioner and patient. Health care practitioners can use both the best of medical care, together with Therapeutic Touch as an adjunct, to reduce suffering, relieve pain, and promote healing."

-Willamay Pym

April 1997