YAKIMA, Wash. — Students at the Washington State University College of Nursing campus in Yakima have a unique opportunity to enhance their nursing skills using Therapeutic Touch, a summer school elective course being offered May 14 & 15 and May 30 & 31. Twenty students are enrolled in the four-day intensive course.

The concepts behind Therapeutic Touch, also known as TT, advocate the use of intentionally focused touch as a primary mechanism to convey caring, support, empathy, trust and reassurance to clients. This highly experiential and clinically focused approach is an excellent complement to the standard modern medicine traditionally taught in nursing classrooms.

More than 125 WSU College of Nursing students have participated in this popular course since first being offered in 1995. Students learn to use Therapeutic Touch to reduce different kinds of pain, accelerate wound healing, decrease anxiety, elevate mood and support immune function.

When the National Institutes of Health opened the office for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Therapeutic Touch was found to be one of the most researched of all classified complementary therapies. TT has become standard nursing practice in many hospitals across America and around the world. According to WSU College of Nursing Clinical Assistant Professor Pat Aamodt, MN, RN, who teaches the TT class, it is clear that a huge trend is underway for more natural therapies.

“Therapeutic Touch, like many other complementary/integrative therapies, is gaining popularity in use,” she explained. “TT is certainly is an effective method to assist the body’s own natural healing way.”

In teaching the course, Aamodt uses “Roger’s Science of Unitary Human Beings” to provide the nursing theoretical basis focusing on the concept within that theory of human energy fields. Students learn the Krieger-Kunz Therapeutic Touch procedure. Dr. Krieger, for whom the approach is named, is credited with the initial research on Therapeutic Touch demonstrating use and effect on hemoglobin levels in humans. Much clinically based research has evolved from Krieger’s initial studies.

Students enrolled in the class are required to practice skills to gain beginning competency and proficiency in Therapeutic Touch, and have had great success with patients and the use of TT. One student assisted his grandfather in avoiding amputation by healing a foot ulcer that was unresponsive to traditional treatment. Another student used the TT approach to treat her young child for an ear infection. Numerous students have observed an improvement in mood, decrease in depression and relief of pain using the TT approach to patient care. According to Aamodt, the TT approach has been shown to reduce pain and provide a peaceful sense during the dying process.

Established in 1968, the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing is the nation’s first, oldest and most comprehensive nursing education consortium. The College of Nursing offers baccalaureate, graduate and professional development course work to nursing students enrolled through its four consortium partners, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, WSU and Whitworth College. Each year, the College educates more than 600 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other educational institution in the state. For more information about the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing, visit the college Web site at nursing.wsu.edu.