In summary, this chapter identified the study’s aim of achieving a more complete knowledge of holistic healing. Ultimately, understanding this human experience will assist in promoting holistic healing. The rationale for this study stems from the promotion of holistic healing, coupled with inadequate understanding and research regarding matters of people’s experiences of holistic healing. Asking people for their impressions regarding their holistic healing experience would reveal the importance of relying on the client as the most important information resource.
In spite of a thorough search of the literature, no studies have been found that relate directly to the focus of this study, the holistic experience of healing. The literature review is not the theoretical foundation on which the study is based, but is presented in order to illustrate the current state of the relevant literature. The majority of the review was accomplished after the data were analyzed and was guided by the findings. Literature from both the initial review and the later review have been combined in this section.
Connections between the literature and the results of this study will be explored in Chapter 4. Topics will also be discussed that might relate to the experience of healing, such as health status, recovery, and survival. In this related literature the independent variables such as social support, optimism, and hardiness are often well defined with reliable and valid measures. The dependent variables such as “being healthy, having minor health problems, suffering from chronic disease, being disabled, and being dead are treated as equally-spaced points on a continuum” (Hobroyd & Coyne, 1997, p.
364), and are not often well-defined or measured. Other measures sometimes defined as “healthy” are help seeking behaviours and compliance with medical recommendations. Attempts are often made to define personality characteristics that relate to health and survival. Krantz and Hedges (1997) believed that enthusiasm outweighs the evidence about how personality traits, psychological factors, and behaviours relate to disease. Nevertheless, there are some interesting studies in which attempt is made to measure the factors that might be relevant to holistic healing.
The popular literature claims much more knowledge than can be substantiated with valid research but this literature has stimulated a research interest that may lead to more knowledge about healing. Healing Techniques In the literature related to specific techniques, such as biofeedback, therapeutic touch, imagery, and hypnosis, holistic healing is discussed directly. Each of these areas has a body of research but the studies do not define healing and often do not give enough information for the reader to make a judgement on whether the outcomes are credible. Imagery is thought to be promising as a healing technique (Achterberg, 2005).
One type of imagery related to healing is the visualization of processes within one’s own body to healing is the visualization of processes within one’s own body that are used to promote specific physiological changes. Oncology has been the primary focus of healing through imagery, but research is being expanded into other illnesses, both chronic and acute. Achterberg believed imagery focused on activating some internal mechanism, beyond the physical process. Based on clinical experience, not empirical evidence, she identified the characteristics that relate to successful healing through imagery.
Increased hope, self-esteem, and positive feelings were thought to be important. Relaxation and ability to focus on the imagery were considered essential for effective healing. The images themselves were best if they came from a thorough knowledge of the disease but were not concrete (symbolic as opposed to anatomically correct). Ideally, images should incorporate visualization of the disease; effective medical treatment; and effective personal defence. The characteristics of successful imagery need to be tested empirically to gain more knowledge about the process of healing.