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Healing Touch Plus Guided Imagery Swiftly Reduces PTSD, Depression, In Returning Marines

25 Sep

In looking for quick and effective treatment for PTS for returning service members, Scripps Hospital Center for Integrative Medicine, in conjunction with Camp Pendleton and the Samueli Institute, conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine whether a complementary medicine intervention (Healing Touch with Guided Imagery [HT+GI]) reduced PTSD symptoms, as compared to treatment as usual (TAU) with returning combat-exposed active duty Marines with significant symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

Active duty military (n = 123) were randomized to 6 sessions (within 3 weeks) of either Healing Touch plus Guided Imagery (Healing Trauma by Belleruth Naparstek) or Treatment as Usual.  Outcomes measured were PTSD symptoms (the PCL – i.e., the PTSD Check List) and depression (Beck Depression Inventory), quality of life (SF-36), and hostility (Cook–Medley Hostility Inventory).

Repeated measures analysis of covariance with intent-to-treat analyses revealed a statistically and clinically significant reduction in PTSD symptoms (p < 0.0005, Cohen's d = 0.85) as well as depression (p < 0.0005, Cohen's d = 0.70) for HT+GI vs. TAU.

HT+GI also showed significant improvements in mental quality of life (p = 0.002, Cohen's d = 0.58) and reduction in cynicism (p = 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.49) vs. TAU.

The investigators conclude that the Healing Touch plus Guided Imagery intervention resulted in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD and related symptoms in a returning, combat-exposed active duty military population.

Further investigation of these and like approaches is warranted for mitigating PTSD in military populations .

Citation:  Jain, Shamini; McMahon, George F.; Hasen, Patricia; Kozub, Madelyn P.; Porter, Valencia; King, Rauni; Guarneri, Erminia M. Healing Touch With Guided Imagery for PTSD in Returning Active Duty Military: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Military Medicine, Volume 177, Number 9, September 2012, pp. 1015-1021 (7)

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award