PTSD and Healing Touch Therapy

What is PTSD:

PTSD or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that most commonly occurs following the experience of or witnessing of a life-threatening event, for example military combat, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, serious accidents and physical or sexual assault. It is most common in military personnel or veterans but is not limited to this group.


The symptoms of PTSD can be very debilitating and are often associated with a high prevalence of other conditions like depression.

People with PTSD re-experience the traumatic event through recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections. They might experience severe distress when exposed to things that symbolize or resemble aspects of the traumatic event and they also avoid thoughts, feelings, conversations, people, places or activities that represent or remind them of the traumatic event.

Many sufferers also have difficulty concentrating, difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger and an exaggerated startle response.

PTSD Treatments:

Untreated PTSD can have a huge impact on people’s lives, increasing the odds of substance abuse and suicide in sufferers, but because of the societal stigma around mental illness and because of worries of medication side effects, many sufferers do not seek treatment.

Traditionally, treatments for PTSD have often involved medication similar to those taken for depression and other psychiatric disorders which tend to have a large number of side effects, but recently it’s been noted that some complementary or alternative therapies may be useful for people with PTSD and might act to reduce symptoms.

Researchers at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine found specifically that healing touch in combination with guided imagery (or visualizations) helped to decrease symptoms of PTSD and depression and also served to increase quality of life.

In another study by Camp Pendleton Military Base, Marines taking part in the study had a dramatic decrease in symptoms after 3 weeks of Healing Touch and Visualization therapy, with many no longer having severe enough symptoms to meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

Healing Touch involves practitioners using their intent and their hands to promote healing and health, most commonly used for pain and relaxation. Near-body or light touches influence the energy fields that surround the body. This coupled with the visualisation is said to decrease pain and ease anxiety.


Mil Med. 2012 Sep;177(9):1015-21.

Healing Touch with Guided Imagery for PTSD in returning active duty military: a randomized controlled trial.

Jain S1, McMahon GF, Hasen P, Kozub MP, Porter V, King R, Guarneri EM.