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In general, persons who are interested in Breema, qigong, or any form of energy therapy that involves vigorous physical exercise or bodywork should seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner before starting such a program. This precaution is particularly important for persons with chronic heart or lung disease, persons recovering from surgery or acute illness, or persons with arthritis or other disorders that affect the muscles and joints.
Some forms of energy therapy may produce unexpected or startling psychological reactions. For example, a type of psychospiritual energy referred to as Kundalini in Indian yoga sometimes produces experiences of spiritual crisis that may be interpreted by mainstream psychiatrists as symptoms of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. Practitioners of Reiki healing have reported instances of patients feeling tingling sensations, "spaciness," an "out of body" sensation, sudden warmth,
Brief descriptions of some of the better known energy therapies follow.
Therapeutic touch, or TT, is a form of energy therapy that developed in the United States. It is a noninvasive method of healing derived from an ancient laying-on of hands technique. In TT, practitioners alter the patient's energy field through a transfer of energy from their hands to the patient. Therapeutic touch was developed in 1972 by Dora Kunz, a psychic healer, and Dolores Krieger, a professor of nursing at New York University. The principle behind TT is restoration of balance or harmony to the human energy field, or aura, that is thought to extend several inches to several feet from the body. When illness occurs, it creates a disturbance or blockage in the vital energy field. The TT practitioner uses her/his hands to discern the blockage or disturbance. Although the technique is called "therapeutic touch," there is generally no touching of the client's physical body, only his or her energetic body or field. TT is usually performed on fully clothed patients who are either lying down on a flat surface or sitting up in a chair.
A therapeutic touch session consists of five steps or phases. The first step is a period of meditation on the practitioner's part, to become spiritually centered and energized for the task of healing. The second step is assessment or discernment of the energy imbalances in the patient's aura. In this step, the TT practitioner holds his or her hands about 2–3 inches above the patient's body and moves them in long, sweeping strokes from the patient's head downward to the feet. The practitioner may feel a sense of warmth, heaviness, tingling, or similar cues, as they are known in TT. The cues are thought to reveal the location of the energy disturbances or imbalances. In the third step, known as the unruffling process, the practitioner removes the energy disturbances with downward sweeping movements. In the fourth step, the practitioner serves as a channel for the transfer of universal energy to the patient. The fifth step consists of smoothing the patient's energy field and restoring a symmetrical pattern of energy flow. After the treatment, the patient rests for 10–15 minutes.
Although therapeutic touch has become a popular alternative or complementary approach in some schools of nursing in the United States and Canada, acceptance by the mainstream medical community varies. Many hospitals permit nurses and staff to perform TT on patients at no extra charge. On the other hand, however, therapeutic touch became national news in April 1998 when an elementary-school student carried out research for a science project that questioned its claims. Twenty-one TT practitioners with experience ranging from one to 27 years were blindfolded and asked to identify whether the investigator's hand was closer to their right hand or their left. Placement of the investigator's hand was determined by flipping a coin. The TT practitioners were able to identify the correct hand in only 123 (44%) of 280 trials, a figure that could result from random chance alone. Debate about the merits of TT filled the editorial pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association for nearly a year after the news reports, and continues to this day.
Author Info: Rebecca J. Frey Ph.D., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, 2003
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