Ease Cancer Treatment Side Effects with Therapeutic Touch

Monday, May 06, 2019, 04:55 PM

Approximately half of all Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer sometime in their life, and a quarter will die of the disease. Of those diagnosed, 60 percent will live at least five years after their diagnosis.

There are numerous treatments available that aim to kill cancer cells or stop them from spreading. These include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplants.

These treatments are extremely hard on the body because they have to be aggressive enough to target the cancer cells. Normal cells necessary for the healthy functioning of the body are usually killed along with the cancer cells.

Alternative therapies are recommended to help patients cope both physically and emotionally with the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. These holistic practices can help reduce fatigue and nausea and lessen the anxiety and stress that comes from a cancer diagnosis.

Therapeutic touch being practised on a prone client.

Some alternative therapies to explore include yoga, aromatherapy, massage therapy, meditation, tai chi, and energy therapies. Therapeutic Touch® is one holistic treatment that is recommended by the Canadian Cancer Society and supported by research.

What is Therapeutic Touch®?

Therapeutic Touch® is a holistic, evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote the balance and well-being of the client. The practitioner uses their hands to facilitate the healing process.

It is believed that Therapeutic Touch® can help clear, align, and balance the client's energy systems, promoting healing. It is effective in promoting relaxation, relieving stress, and decreasing pain, making it a positive choice for people going through cancer treatment.

To begin a treatment, the Therapeutic Touch® practitioner will focus on the client with the intention of bringing balance to the energy field. An initial energy assessment, done with the practitioner's hands several inches above the client's body, identifies areas of imbalance.

The remainder of the session can be done with or without physical contact. The practitioner uses their hands to clear and modulate energy, then to reassess the energy field for balance and flow. The return of balance and flow has been shown to support the healing process both in research and clinical practice.

Close-up of Therapeutic Touch on client.

Benefits of Therapeutic Touch® for People with Cancer

A 2016 review on the effect of Therapeutic Touch® in patients with cancer (PDF) reported that the practice had positive effects on pain, nausea, anxiety, and fatigue in people undergoing cancer treatment.

Beyond the physical benefits, the same review found that Therapeutic Touch® significantly improved mental heath and quality of life for people with cancer. The most notable affects of Therapeutic Touch® include:

  • stress reduction and increased relaxation
  • reduced pain and discomfort
  • decreased feelings of depression and anxiety
  • improved quality of sleep
  • greater sense of inner peace
  • improved mobility
  • improved interpersonal relationships

Overall, research has found that Therapeutic Touch® is an effective, non-invasive treatment that can promote the physical and mental health of people with cancer.


To find a Therapeutic Touch® practitioner in your area, use the NHPC Member Directory.

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