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Healing Touch defies skepticism, gains credibility

by: Elizabeth Ussher Groff, Constance Hammond has used Healing Touch therapy for years to help people with pain or injuries, headaches, anxiety, or stress. Here, she’s shown with Bill Henry, Woodstock resident and member of All Saints, who was skeptical, having had painful past experiences with kidney stones – but after a fifteen-minute session with Hammond, he later passed a third stone with no pain.

When nurses, doctors, and scientists study and work to heal the skeletal, circulatory, digestive, and nervous systems of our bodies, we don't blink an eye. But what about working with the body's energy system?

Energy fields within the body have long been recognized by some cultures. For example, the Chinese believe that balancing a person's 'chi', or energy, can enhance physical, mental and spiritual health.

However, it is only in the past twenty years that energy therapy has gained increased credibility within the medical and scientific communities in this country. Today it is used with increasing frequency by nurses, doctors, massage therapists, hospice workers, chaplains, and lay people to complement conventional medical practices.

Kaiser Permanente, for one, utilizes between 40 and 50 'Touch' practitioners in the Portland area.

Constance Hammond, an Episcopal priest and a certified Healing Touch practitioner and instructor, is conducting - with other practitioners - a free monthly Healing Touch energy therapy clinic at All Saints Episcopal Church at S.E. 41st and Woodstock Boulevard.

What is Healing Touch?

The practice evolved from Therapeutic Touch, begun by nurses in the late '70's. Drawing on ancient traditions of healing, it is a practice in which practitioners use their hands to manipulate the body's energy fields. As explained by its practitioners, in Healing Touch the hands may touch the body or move close to the body using the energy that we all have in our 'bio-field' to help the body heal itself.

Even those who are skeptical have experienced improved physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual health as a result of the technique. The program is certified internationally by Healing Touch International, Inc. and was endorsed in 1996 by the American Holistic Nurses' Association.

With diverse interests and experiences and extensive world travel, Hammond, a native Oregonian, was working in the mid-'80's as chaplain and assistant head of pastoral care for the University Hospital in Boston when she saw a poster about a Therapeutic Touch class. She took the class, and became fascinated by the benefits she saw.

Research, as well as Hammond's own experiences, have shown that Healing Touch is beneficial to people going through surgery and chemotherapy or undergoing a major change or transition in life, she says. It can enhance a weak immune system, or help people who are seeking additional support for substance abuse withdrawal or a deeper spiritual connection.

Hammond hesitates to use the word 'miracle', or to call any healing miraculous. 'The only thing I ever guarantee people is that they will be more relaxed.' Nevertheless, unexplainable and wonderful things do happen.

One Sunday, not long after she first began practicing Healing Touch, she noticed a man in church who seemed to be in some distress. He told her he had a migraine coming on. When she offered to help him, he told her that they didn't have time, as church was starting. She said, 'That's right, but I have five minutes. If you want me to try, I can work on you.'

Hammond recounts that, after the service, the man's wife rushed up to her and exclaimed, 'Constance, he's now a true believer. He doesn't have a headache.' The man, a Boeing employee whom Hammond describes as a 'linear thinker', was proclaiming that the therapy wasn't 'woo-woo crazy', and that 'it really worked.'

After her ten years of experience with Healing Touch, Hammond is pleased that All Saints has agreed to offer space in the church for a free class every fourth Thursday of the month.

Sessions are held at 6 pm and 7 pm, and are by appointment. Donations are accepted to help the church with electricity and heating costs. Contact Constance Hammond at 503/ 230-2331 for more information about Healing Touch therapy, or visit the Internet website: www.healingtouchprogram.com.