Healing has a remarkably long tradition – reaching far back beyond the origins of Christianity.

Some healers describe themselves as ‘spiritual’ and believe that their healing power comes directly from a god or superior being of some kind. Other healers say that they are merely a channel through which natural healing powers can succeed.

The difference between ‘healing’, ‘spiritual healing’ and ‘faith healing’ causes a considerable amount of confusion among both practitioners and patients. The fact is that there is a considerable amount of overlap between the different types of healing. These, however, are the definitions that are widely accepted:

Faith healing

The patient trusts the healer and allows his will power and energies to be marshalled in such a way that he can make best use of his body’s self-healing capacities. The patient must trust the healer and there is a powerful link between the patient’s mind and his body.

Spiritual healing

The patient may or may not know that the healing is taking place. He may or may not be receptive and enthusiastic. The healer transmits energy from himself to the patient in some mysterious way.


The word is used very generally to describe the whole phenomenon. In many instances when healing takes place the patient will be required to believe in some strong, supernatural force, some god or some religious being, who will offer a cure – usually in return for some form of prayer, supplication or pilgrimage.

However, despite the popularity of places like Lourdes most healers claim that healing isn’t necessarily mystical and certainly doesn’t need to be associated with any religion or religious group.

The majority of healers claim that whereas the world ‘faith’ implies that healing must always come from some sort of religious power or divine intervention, their experience suggests that there is absolutely no need for an individual to have any faith. On the contrary they claim that healing is a natural phenomenon that all of us can benefit from.

‘Healing,’ one healer said, ‘is not a special gift. It is just that the full-time healers practise a lot and get quite good at it.’

Today healing (in all its varied forms) has become a thriving alternative medical speciality.


Healing is a therapy and there are not usually any diagnostic skills associated with it or its practitioners.


Healers work in a wide variety of different ways. Some healers lay their hands on their patients. Some put their hands just above the patient’s body. Some healers claim that they can heal a patient without the patient being present (this is, not surprisingly, known as ‘absent healing’). Some healers pray, some mutter incantations and some remain completely silent. Some encourage their patients to visualize an improvement in their bodies. Some healers claim that they act on behalf of special healing forces. Some healers charge their patients a fee. Some do not.

One thing that most healers agree on is that anyone can become a healer. Mothers can heal their children, orthodox doctors can heal their patients and we can all heal ourselves – some of the time at least.

The advantage of visiting a professional healer is that you benefit from that individual’s strength of personality and enthusiasm. The good healer can give even the most cynical and timid patient vigour, energy and strength.

Loving someone, and wanting them to get better, are, it seems, part of the healing force. But there is more to it than that. The effective healer must want to help his patients but he must also be prepared to transfer some of his own healing energies to the minds and bodies of his patients.


Apart from the risk of a patient being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous healer there are no special hazards associated with healing.


Healing can be used in just about any physical or mental condition. The help of a professional healer is particularly useful in the treatment of conditions where the patient is weary and exhausted and has insufficient energy to use his own self-healing powers without outside support.

Sudden ‘miracles’ are, naturally, extremely rare. Healing is usually a gradual process. But it is certainly true that a remarkable number of patients do make a recovery after intervention by a healer.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that all the healers I have spoken to insist that healing should be used together with other forms of treatment. Most healers prefer to work alongside orthodox medical practitioners. And, returning the compliment, most orthodox medical practitioners seem happy to work alongside healers.