by Gisele Rinaldi Siebold and Karen G. Meshkov
Kathy Fennelly has worked in medical settings her entire professional life. As a registered nurse for 30 years, she has worked in emergency rooms, cancer wards, surgical units, neurological and cardiac intensive care units, home health care and rehabilitation centers. In each setting, Fennelly’s motivation was the same: the profoundly intimate experience of supporting patients through their healing journey. After a second career in pharmaceuticals, Fennelly ultimately decided to return to patient care. This time, she extended her professional skillset to include the practice known as Healing Touch.
Healing Touch is a non-invasive energy healing technique that was founded and developed in 1989 by Janet Mentgen, a nurse who observed the positive effect of energetic touch with her patients. Involving 30 different hand techniques, it is now recognized by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association and is nationally accredited with the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a complementary therapy at hospitals, cancer centers, nursing homes and hospices across the country.
While Healing Touch is not a substitute for medical attention, examination, diagnosis or treatment, it is safe for all ages when used as a stand-alone wellness practice or as a non-invasive approach that integrates seamlessly with a conventional medical regimen. The practice is particularly supportive to cancer and hospice care—studies have shown it is effective for decreasing stress and anxiety, staving off depression, reducing pain and boosting mental clarity, all of which strengthen the immune system, speeding up surgical recovery and shortening hospital stays.
Fennelly, who offers her services to cancer patients and their caregivers at the Bryn Mawr Cancer Center as well as in her office, assisted living facilities, private homes, hospitals and outpatient facilities, explains that the power of Healing Touch is both parts science and spirit. A host of statistically significant data in peer reviewed medical journals leaves little scientific doubt that the practice creates the release of endorphins and oxytocin, and that those messengers positively impact the body’s healing mechanisms. Yet, it is the psycho-spiritual dimension of the work that inspires Fennelly most: “I focus on the heart, allowing feelings of compassion and unconditional love to inspire the intention in the client to move energy through. They are really healing themselves, and I am just helping them.”
“We have a subtle energy field, or biofield, that surrounds us, and energy centers within our body supporting us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” describes Fennelly. “The concept of this energy, often called chi or prana, is well-known in Eastern medical traditions. If this energy field becomes stagnant and/or congested, the energy is compromised and affects our entire well-being.”
During a session, Fennelly centers herself, becoming quiet, focused and relaxed, and sets the intention for the highest good, to be a conduit or facilitator for healing. The patient can be sitting or lying down. Using specific hand techniques, Fennelly works within a person’s energy system while lightly touching the body, stroking the skin or even working above the body to elicit the relaxation response. The movement toward healing in the client always comes from within the client. By restoring and providing balance and harmony, she bears witness to the beauty of clients transforming themselves because of the body’s innate ability to heal. While the most common recipients of the technique are cancer, surgical and fibromyalgia patients, the process can be beneficial to anyone experiencing distress in a clinical medical setting or suffering from an ongoing medical condition.
“We all carry energetic imprints from cultural beliefs or upbringing that we have to figure out how to release. With Healing Touch, the act of being present in the moment allows people to let go and release those energetic imprints,” explains Fennelly. “People share their story, and through story, we connect––we share, we learn, we live and, ultimately, we heal.”
Fennelly will offer Healing Touch at Empowered Light Holistic Expo, October 28 and 29, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, in Oaks; Fennelly is an Approved Wellness Provider for Unite For HER (UFH), participating in Breast Cancer Wellness Days. Visit UniteForHer.org for more details.
For more information, call 610-698-8643, email HealingTouchByKathy@gmail.com or visit HealingTouchByKathy.com. Locations: 1062 E. Lancaster Ave., Ste. 13-A, Bryn Mawr and 516 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown. October 2016.
Gisele Rinaldi Siebold is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings. Connect with her at Gisele@NALancaster.com.
Karen G. Meshkov is the Publisher and Director of Advertising Partnerships for Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Connect with her at Publisher@NABuxMont.com.