By: Carol Maleki
Reprinted from FMOnline
Carol Maleki is a certified healing touch practitioner at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif. Recently she took some time to talk with the National Fibromyalgia Association about her work, and how healing touch affects her clients.
Q. What is healing touch?
A. It’s not massage. In massage, the therapist kneads the tissues and the muscles. Healing touch is just a very light touch, and sometimes no touch at all.
Q. Who do you think benefits from healing touch therapy?
A. There are so many people that can benefit; I’d like to say ‘Everybody!’ But not everyone is open to it. Most people can benefit from healing touch; certainly it reduces anxiety and stress, but it doesn’t always reduce pain in all situations. It varies from person to person.
Most of the people I see are patients that are coming in for surgery. I see quite a number of these patients after surgery as well. I work with cancer patients, diabetics, amputees, stroke patients. While they’re in the hospital, generally I’ll see them every day until they’re released.
Q. What is a typical session like?
A. I go in and introduce myself to the patients, tell them what I do, and ask them if they would like a treatment. Usually it lasts between 15 and 20 minutes — not longer than that, because often we get interrupted by the anesthesiologist.
I focus on shoulders and head. I put my hands at the top of the chest — one right behind the other, right around the collarbone — and I apply very light pressure with slight pulsation, like a heartbeat. Then I put one hand under the head and another on the forehead, and place my fingers right behind the skull, right at the top. Then I place my hands right on top of the head, right around the crown. I have two hands right across the forehead. Merely resting the heel of my hand right at the top of the forehead, I let my fingers cup the eyes without letting them touch any skin on the face. I sweep both sides of face down towards the chin three times, then hold their cheeks. From that point, I hold their shoulders. I end right at the collarbone area.
When I’m upstairs [in the hospital], generally what I do is full-body treatment. I start by holding a person’s feet. I put one palm right underneath the ball of their foot. Another hand is on top. I apply very light touch, a very light pulsation, almost like a heartbeat with my hand. Once I am done with the foot, I move to the ankle, to the knee, from the knee to the hip, and work up the front of the body. I also work with the arms and hands, and around the head. Each hand position is very specific and aligns with the meridians, the acupressure points. That particular treatment lasts about an hour.
Q. How do people react to the treatment?
A: When presurgical patients come in, they’re very, very afraid. Oftentimes they’re tearful. I ask what their pain and anxiety levels are after healing touch; usually we see a significant drop in anxiety, at least half.
We also get very significant drops in blood pressure. If their blood pressure was high due to their anxiety, it’s not at all unusual for their blood pressure to drop 10 to 20 points. So that’s significant.
Q. Why does healing touch achieve such impressive results for some clients?
A: There’s an intentionality that’s a part of this, like a prayer or a wish that you are putting onto this patient for their best interest, their health, their well-being: that their body can recall its ability to self-heal.
It isn’t my energy that I’m using. I’m tapping into something bigger — you want to call it God-force, you want to call it universal energy, whatever. I’m tapping into that force, and I’m merely a conduit. We all have the ability to heal one another, and we can do wonderful things for one another.
Q. How does healing touch affect people with fibromyalgia?
A. There was a small pilot research study on people with fibromyalgia — five women, 10 sessions. After reading the whole thing over, [I thought] it was kind of inconclusive.
Some people received more benefit than others. One particular individual … reportedly received the least quantitative benefit, but she said that the sessions had been very relaxing; … she often slept through the session and often felt spiritually uplifted as a result of the session. [She also said she felt] more mobile and able to do more housework.
All benefited and reported they felt better for at least four to five days.
Q. How did you first get involved in healing touch?
A. About five years ago started having health problems. I have a thyroid condition, and started having severe vertigo. I went to the doctor and got diagnosed and was put on medication, but my symptoms were not going away. After about a year of going along with traditional programs, I was doing a lot of research on the computer, and I found a workshop at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.
They had their massage tables up and I immediately thought, “This looks like so much hocus pocus!” [But then I thought,] “It’s noninvasive. I have absolutely nothing to lose. I’m going to get up there and have a treatment.” I was completely dumbfounded at how wonderful I felt. Every cell in my body had been activated and was alive. It was an unbelievable experience.
I was so amazed by how I felt, and how I continued to feel days after the initial treatment, I signed up for classes. [I thought,] “If I feel like this, imagine how people with really serious illness would feel!”
Q. How can people find a healing touch therapist near them?
A. Go to http://www.healingtouch.net/ – it includes many of the certified healing touch practitioners available across the world, but not all of them are in it (I am not on it!).