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Types of Healing and Their Definitions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Allen Lawrence, M.D.   
Healing is not unidimensional, that is there is not just one way of healing or one thing we can think of, believe in, or give power too, that leads to or creates healing. Healing while omnipresent, is multidimensional, that is, there are many ways to create healing, types of healing, many pathways to healing and many results that can be called healing. Healing is al around us, all of the time and part of everything. The truth is so are illness and death, they too are part of us, surround us and are all around us all of the time. In this section however, we will look at just a few of the many types of healing which are known to exist. We cannot make any claims that this list is either all inclusive nor that it represents every type of healing which is possible or available. Our goal here is to educate and inform and to help the reader recognize that there are many ways to get to the same place, that there are many ways to look for and find, and be healed. We will also look at illness and death in other documents as understanding them is also essential in understanding healing.

Spontaneous/Instant Healing

When healing appears to occur suddenly with or without cause, with or without preparation, work, reason, logic, planning or a specific healing program.

Often this is an illusion as the individual has usually been consciously or unconsciously thinking about or taking action toward solving unresolved conflicts or problems for some period of time prior to the “healing.” In many cases, while the healing may seems to occur “right now,” the ground work and work needed for it to occur has been in process for weeks, months or even years.


Any healing that is accomplished by the individual, with or without help. All healing requires the consent or the permission and intention of the person who is being healed. This consent may be given before the process of healing by allowing the healing process or openly seeking it out, or it may be given after the healing has occurred. When consent is not given healing is either blocked or delayed. When healed spontaneously and consent is not allowed after the healing process has taken place, what often happens next may be refer to as “relapse,” the condition returns.

Whether or not an individuals uses the help of another person, a specific healing program, sacred healing objects, chants, potions is less important than the fact that they allowed the healing process to take place, they desired the healing, and they did whatever was necessary to facilitate it.

Complete spontaneous healing can take without conscious aware permission. It can also take place when the person resists healing, the healing process, the efforts of others, the use of objects, sacred or profane. This can happen when the higher levels of awake consciousness, or when the Higher Self, superego, Devine self or guardian angles mandate that it will happen. It can happen when the person is unaware or uncooperative, if it is the right thing to happen at that time. This healing may be permanent and complete, if it is what is appropriately determined by the individuals higher centers of being.

Medical Healing

This implies that the individual has sought the help of a medical physician or is undergoing medical treatment programs. To do this they must consult, consent and allow medical treatment, including but not limited to the laying on of hands, receiving medical, anatomical, physiologic information, medications, surgery, physical therapy, or any other treatment or treatments considered to be “medical” in nature or usually associated with a medical treatment program. The individual then allows and accepts the above treatment with the express intention of “getting better,” “returning to wellness,” of being healed” or “receiving healing.”

Alternative Medical Healing

The individual seeks out, consents, allows, encourages and participates in a one or many forms of alternative medical treatment programs, that is in a discipline or disciplines other than in a standard Western allopathic medical setting. This could include disciplines such as osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, use of herbs, Oriental medicine, etc.

In the above situation the individual allows and accepts treatments with the clear intention of “getting better,” “returning to wellness,” or of “being healed.”

Alternative Healing

The individual seeks out some form of healing which he or she has confidence in or some intention that it will cause healing or help them to “get better,” “return to wellness,” “heal” or “be healed.”

This could include self counseling, defense programs, meditation, shamanism, the use of jewelry, gemstones, colors, horoscopes, divinations or self created programs not related to a specific organized healing discipline.

Integrative (Combined) Healing

A combination of strategies, disciplines, teachings and techniques which embody elements, in whole or in part, of all other forms of healing including Western allopathic medicine, alternative medical healing and alternative healing systems. The individual on his or her own, or with or without the help of a healer, or as part of a medical or alternative medical treatment program creates a healing program combining and utilizing multiple healing disciplines and system for promote healing. The individual allows and accepts healing. Generally speaking the way this term is currently used there is generally some role that western allopathic medicine will usually play in the final healing program.

Healer Moderated/Facilitated Healing

When the individual contracts with, hires or accepts the help, support or design of another person who advertises, claims or considers him or herself to be a healer or offers a healing program, this is a healing moderator or facilitator. We often use the word “healer” to describe this person.

  1. The moderator may completely and totally design the healing program, then instruct and facilitate the use of the program.
  2. The moderator may work with the individual to co-design the healing program with approximately equal input on the end program created by both parties.
  3. The “patient” or “client,” the individual with the illness, may entirely design the program and use the moderator to facilitate or help with issues of design, implementation, or support for the healing program and its process.
  4. The individual and moderator may workout any relationship wherein both are comfortable. If one is not comfortable this will usually mean that the relationship is not working and the final ability to create healing will likely come into question.

Group Healing

An individual joins a group and a large part of the work toward healing is based on the dynamics of the group. The group can be simple such as a support group or complex such as an organized process with specific assignments and rules. A cult could qualify as a group. Alcohol Anonymous could qualify as a group. Groups designed for support such as cancer support groups, group therapy or group counseling could also qualify as healing groups. In the Hawaiian tradition the Ho’oponopono process, is a group process.

Prayer Healing

Any healing program based on prayer, either local, immediate or centralized, such as a church, at home, or in a group, or at a distance (decentralized) such as a loosely organized prayer group praying for a sick friend or parishioner would be consider to be a prayer healing process. Prayer healing could be an individual process where the “patient” prays on their own, a small group process such as friends and family, or a large group process such as a church or religious organization effort. Huna prayer is a non religious form of prayer frequently used for healing.

Religious Prayer Healing

When prayer is based around the beliefs, organization or auspices of a defined religious group, that is one based on the tenets of a formalized or organized religion, whether God based or humanistic.

Non-Religious Prayer Healing

When based on or around a non-organized non-religious form of prayer, such as Huna prayer, poetry, meditative reading, communing with nature, calling upon earth or nature spirits.

Spiritual Prayer Healing

When based around a self-defined, religious or non-religious construct of a higher power, higher universal intelligence, nature spirits or parental-family spirits. A spiritual based prayer system may be, but does not have to be, based on any organized religious principles.

Educational/Intellectual Healing

Creating a healing system based on knowledge and wisdom, intellect and seeking information, rather than a specific medical or religious doctrine or set of beliefs. The individual uses information and knowledge to create healing. Sometimes may be called a “scientific approach.” Healing through insight based on educational pursuits such as problem solving or learning how to communicate with others in a more appropriate and healthy way. Correcting misinformation and hence making better healthier decisions. One could include in this construct use of the information in the Bible, Koran or other works of literature as a healing tools, rather than for their religious doctrine.

Problem Solving Healing

The recognition that certain problems or unresolved conflicts are causing and or potentiating illness, stress or emotional, mental or spiritual turmoil hence leading to illness and that the resolution of these problems using problems solving techniques or simply solving the problems which have caused the illness, can lead to healing.

Shamanistic Healing

Healing through auspices of an individual or group designated as shamanistic, relating to an individual or group which acts as an intermediary or medium, a shaman, between the “real” or “visible” world and the “spirit” or unseen world of the spirits. Often thought of as magic, sorcery or divination. This might include African, Haitian, Siberian or Native American medicine and healing strategies and programs.

Dietary, Food Based, Healing

When healing is based principally around use of specific diet, foods, vitamin-mineral supplements or other nutrients which are used either in normal amounts or extreme dosages such as mega-vitamin therapy. This might include macrobiotics diets, use of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients, all green, red, or white foods only, vegetarian diet, fruit only diet, Pritikin diet, South Beach diet, elimination of certain foods or the manipulation of types and amounts of food eaten such as in a low salt diet or diabetic diet. When food is used as the main thrust of the healing program.

Healing At A Distance

When healing is not a direct action or choice is taken from or not made by the person to be healed. When action is taken by others, an individual or a group, through prayer, meditation or using “treatments” either known or unknown to the person being healed. When healing is accomplished over time and over a distance from the person who is being healed. When healing is not through direct contact with the person who is being healed.

Touch Healing

When healing is directly associated with some form of touching, direct manipulation or handling of the “sick” person. This can be through random touch, directed or purposeful touch, organized rituals, massage, psychic touching (mentally with no actual physical contact) such as sending out psychic “hands,” energy waves with or without mental contact.

Healing Touch

Healing touch is a controversial healing technique. It is considered to be an "energy therapy," which embraces a group of non-invasive techniques that utilize the hands to clear, energize, and balance the human and environmental energy fields. While these "energy fields" have never been proven to exist by Western medicine they stand as the basis of oriental medicine. With some similarities to Reiki, Healing Touch offers more techniques for physical, emotional and spiritual balancing. "Healers" claim the various "Healing Touch" techniques re-pattern and align the body’s energy field hence allowing our innate healing process to be triggered or work more effectively.

Ritual Healing

A ritual is any series of actions that are interpreted by the patient and the healer as having meaning and facilitating healing. These actions may be religious or non religious in nature. During the ritual one of two things happen: 1) the patients/client (the sick person), transfers power to the healer to facilitate or allow healing, 2) the patient/client takes power from the healer and the ritual to activate intrinsic healing mechanisms. Hence a “healing ritual” is any process Western medicine, alternative medicine, Oriental, or shamanistic healers uses as part of their healing or treatment program. While ritual are often thought of as being part of alternative, shamanistic healing processes they clearly exist as part of the main basis of Western allopathic medicine. Here the rituals have been cloaked in “science.”

In Western medicine, the patient must call and make an appointment with the doctor, fill out forms, wait in the waiting room until called, get his or her weight, blood pressure, pulse and respirations taken, take off clothing, sit on examination table and then the physician cloaked in the robes of his healing profession, the white coat or smock, he places a stethoscope on the heart and lungs, looks in the throat, feels various parts of the body and then makes a diagnosis. All of this is a type of ritual which is expected by the patient. If this ritual is not done, it may leave the patient feeling as if something has not been done, as if the visit (ritual) is incomplete, and healing this may block the healing process.

Hybrid Healing

Making all of this more complicated and exciting is the fact that any one technique or method of healing may be blended with any number of other types and techniques of healing. An individual working on self healing or a healer working with a client may use multiple techniques in random or specific order to accomplish planned or unplanned results. Hence one may use music with meditation, while holding a sacred gem stone on a day and time that the individuals horoscope said their planets was in the exact alignment to allow healing. This same individual may have just seen their medical doctor and had a prescription changed and then stopped off at their accounts or attorney’s office and arranged for a unresolved financial or legal issue to be resolved. Which of these is ultimately responsible for the healing that takes place is unimportant, all were, none were, the action of doing all of these things was, the intention to get well facilitated it, the actions taken supported resolution and healing. Without having done some or all of these healing may or may not have been possible. By doing any one thing or the exact combination of things done healing may well have been triggered. If healing was not accomplished this may mean that the individual did not have perfect intention or that something was left out or that it just needs to be repeated a few more times or that the combination is not yet right.

Ultimately healing occurs when you are ready for it to happen and when the time is right for it to happen. In the best of all worlds we would not worry about it, we would just do what was necessary. What your instinct, gut or heart tells you is right.

There are many other types of healing processes. If you use or know of ones other than what we have already listed please forward it on to us to add to the above list.