The internal process of therapeutic touch as nursing action

Denise Ann Coppa, University of Rhode Island


Therapeutic Touch (TT) is a complementary healing modality utilized by health care providers to reduce anxiety, accelerate relaxation, decrease pain, and boost the immune systems of clients. Although there is a standard in the literature as described by Krieger (1979), very little has been written about whether the core process of TT conforms to the standard and whether there are differences between the process as practiced in adults compared to children. ^ The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the core process of TT in adults and children as practiced and perceived by five professional nurses who had extensive experience as TT practitioners. This study applied the fieldwork techniques of in depth, semi structured interviews and focused participant observations to obtain the data, which led to a detailed description of the core process of TT in adults as compared to children. ^ Five nurse informants each treated one adult and one child for the study. The findings of the study demonstrate that there is one core process in adults and children with qualitative differences, which adheres to the standard practice described in the literature with the addition of the step of terminating or disconnecting. Preconditions for the treatment are identified. There are three phases depicted in the core process. Phase I includes the preparation for the treatment. The informants identified the practices of connecting, centering, and intentionality as necessary to prepare for TT. Phase II was the treatment phase, during which there are the most notable differences between adults and children. There is an orienting period, during which the nurses prepared the clients for the treatments. This is followed by assessing, treating, and reassessing the adult client. In children the assessing, treating, and reassessing occur more simultaneously than in adults, although in both age groups there is overlap within the treatment phase. The treatment ends with phase III, which the nurses described as disconnecting from the clients. Consequences and extraneous factors influencing the process are also identified. ^ Treatments in children were much shorter than in adults. Implications for future research, nursing knowledge development, and clinical nursing practice are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Denise Ann Coppa, "The internal process of therapeutic touch as nursing action" (2002). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3053099.