It has not been proven how Healing Touch works. The theory is that all living beings, including humans, are energy systems, and that an individual's energy field is in constant interplay with the surrounding environment.
One nurse theorist, Martha Rogers, believed that the most concentrated part of a being's energy field is the physical body, but that the field also extends beyond the skin, even though it is imperceptible to most people. Living things are continually exchanging energy with each other and, according to Rogers, working toward a universal order.
According to Rogers and other theorists, because an individual's energy field extends beyond the skin, the Healing Touch practitioner can interact with the field. With the use of Healing Touch techniques, the practitioner can reorder the client's energy flow patterns and remove blocks to the flow of vital energy. This allows the client to absorb more energy from the universe, which helps healing to occur.
This has not been observed or measured. However, it is interesting to note that a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) can measure biomagnetic fields emanating from human hands, so this may provide a way to research Healing Touch in the future.
Another way that Healing Touch may help patients is simply the caring relationship between the practitioner and client. It may be that the sense of a loving presence and the reduction of social isolation reduces stress and increases general wellbeing. The therapy may also promote a relaxation response, which shows up as a drop in blood pressure and heart and respiratory rate, along with a reduction in the production of stress hormones, all of which can contribute to a sense of wellbeing.
How does modern physics relate to these concepts?
Theories emerging in quantum physics related to non-local consciousness and its effect on the healing process may apply to the Healing Touch practitioners' work with clients.
For more detailed information on subtle energies and consciousness research, refer to The Institute of Noetic Sciences and the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine.