Energy therapies are also called biofield therapies. They are based on the belief that there are energy fields that flow through and around your body. When energy is flowing freely through your body, you have good emotional, physical and spiritual health. When you are ill, the energy flow is blocked.
The most common types of energy therapy are:
Reiki has the most spiritual focus of all of the energy therapies. Reiki practitioners believe that channelling spiritual energy through their hands can help in healing.
Therapeutic touch does not actually involve touching the body. Practitioners use their minds to communicate with a person’s energy fields. They put their hands just above the body to find the blockages, remove the harmful energy and replace it with their own healthy energy.
Healing touch uses gentle touch on the body to help it heal its own energy fields.
Magnetic healing therapy uses magnets placed on different parts of the body. Practitioners believe these magnets help unblock the energy flow around the body.
In an energy therapy session, you lie fully clothed on a flat surface, such as a massage table or bed. An energy therapist uses gentle pressure or places hands in or through your energy fields to change, move or unblock the energy flow in your body. Sometimes they touch you or they may move their hands just above your body. Most sessions are 45–60 minutes long.
There is no evidence at this time that energy therapies can treat cancer itself. They have mainly been used to try to ease symptoms of cancer or side effects of treatment such as anxiety, fatigue, pain, nausea or vomiting. Some studies show that people feel that energy therapy treatment improves their quality of life. Many people say that they feel very relaxed, calm and peaceful after an energy therapy session.
Some studies suggest that energy therapies work because the person experiences the focused and caring presence of the practitioner, rather than a change in energy flow. More research is needed to understand the role of energy therapies as a complementary therapy.
Talk to your healthcare team if you are thinking about starting energy therapy. Energy therapies are generally thought to be safe. Few side effects have been reported.
Energy therapy practitioners are not regulated in Canada. Some practitioners belong to organizations that promote different types of energy therapies. They provide listings of practitioners who meet their guidelines.