A No-Touch Therapy

Critics attack a mystical hand-motion treatment spreading through nursing schools and hospitals

Keeping her hands a few inches away from her seated patient, nurse Janet Quinn moves them around his body from head to toe, as if she were brushing away cobwebs. At the end of each sweeping motion, her eyes closed, she makes a dismissive gesture, as if shaking water off from her fingertips.

Quinn is giving "therapeutic touch" (TT), a controversial form of therapy that is spreading through the ranks of nursing and already claims tens of thousands of practitioners in the U.S. and many foreign countries. According to its proponents, TT not only comforts and relaxes patients, but also relieves...

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