Holistic nursing, CAM and the role of ‘touch’
The conception of holism for a person is to posit his/her body as a container for emotions and experiences (Sointu, 2013). Holistic care implies the meaning of both patients’ diagnosed illness and their overall wellness and life circumstances, which is also referred to as an array of ‘complementary and alternative therapies’ (Jaimet, 2012). Bishop & Lewith (2010) reviewed 110 articles and found that populations that have chorionic healthy conditions and have dissatisfaction towards conventional medicine, appear more likely to be CAM users; and the use of CAM is not necessarily confined within life-threatening diseases. Moreover, the ...view middle of the document...
Leder & Krucoff (2008) consider that the three characteristics of touch: gestural, impactful and reciprocal, serve the roles of reaffirming the connection between self and the disrupted body as well as reintegrating self and the world. Kerr, et al., (2007) consider that touch healing treatments evoke changes in cortical map representation of painful body parts, thus, inducing beneficial reorganization of body maps (therapeutic plasticity). Furthermore, touch as a reciprocal healing method by bestowing the meaning of body physically and emotionally (Sointu, 2013), not only provides a satisfying feeling of being cared, but also is a way for nurses to demonstrate professionalism and to increase job satisfaction though touching back (Connor & Howett, 2009).
Contexts of tactile touch and therapeutic touch
Edvardsson et al.(2003) concluded that touch has been described either as conducts on physical body or as being a recipient in a scared space of energy change. Shared characteristics of touch healing methods include repeated sensory input, somatosensory attentional modulation, behavioral relevance, and relaxation, appearing to provide a meaningful pain relief (Kerr, et al., 2007). The main difference between tactile touch and therapeutic touch is the hand positions during healing processes. The general physical touch refers to all types of nursing daily interaction and care, whereas therapeutic touch has a specific healing objective (Gleeson & Timmins 2005). Another difference between general touch and healing touch pointed out by Leder & Krucoff (2008) is compassion from the practitioner, which also distinguishes the health-provider from a healer.
Taylor considers tactile touch (1991, as cited in Henricson et al., 2008, p.245) implying “slow stroking with firm pressure, mainly done with the flat of the hand with the fingers close together, of which originated from the word ‘ effleurage’. Tactile touch is one branch belonging to Swedish massage, however, should be differentiated from classic massage (Ardeby et al., 1996). This light massage without reaching deeper tissues, refers to a kind of gentle touch that includes putting pressure on soft tissues and underlying bone (Henricson et al., 2006). Tactile massage has been employed in athletics and sports rehabilitation, and tactile stimulation is associated to Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (Henricson et al., 2009). Tactile touch (Effleurage), which is an undervalued and under-investigated healing method, aims to achieve optimal mind-body wellbeing through reduced levels of anxiety, reduced stress hormones, increased sleep quality and better control over bodies (Henricson et al., 2006).
One branch of CAM is biofield therapies. Most biofield therapies share the same historical philosophy while differing in the hand positions during the delivery process (Anderson & Taylor, 2010). TT is the one which practioners’ hands do not have actual physical contact....