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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK


That spiritual touch

Glenn Hoddle was criticised for listening to faith healer Eileen Drewery

By BBC Radio 5 Live Health Specialist Fiona Plant

Jack Coll and Kristin Johnson are both spiritual healers, and both had different experiences when they first started practising.

Alternative Health
"I started in a way I really don't want to go into too far - it was a spiritual experience I had and from that moment on it changed my life for me," Jack said.

"Not that I regard myself as any sort of saint, I'm an ordinary human being, I work for myself and I'm still able to work and willing to work in this way as long as I can."

Fiona Plant visits spiritual healers
Kristen said she first went to visit a healer when, as far as she was concerned, there was nothing wrong with her.

"I went to see a healer out of pure curiosity, not knowing anything about and not expecting anything," she said.

"I started clearing out, unblocking all my emotional and physical blocks. It was like having flu for days but I realised at the same time it was good for me because I felt so good afterwards."

They meet patients through word of mouth and through a referral service run by the National Federation of Spiritual Healers, which claims to have a growing membership, currently standing at 6,500.


Healers claim they are not necessarily religious, although many believe they are vehicles for some form of divine energy.

Fiona Plant on how spiritual healing felt when she tried it
They say that often people confuse them with spiritualists, or think that they read tarot cards.

But there is a growing trend for doctors to refer patients to healers for treatment alongside orthodox medicine.

So how does it work? I decided to see for myself and sat in on a session at a self-help group for people with HIV/AIDs with professional healer Ian da Costa who has been practising for 30 years.

Fiona Plant explains what the future availability of alternative medicine is likely to be
"What I try to do is to get a sense of attunement between myself and the patient, usually by putting my hands on or near the head. This immediately helps them to start calming down," he said.

"After a few seconds, if I've asked what's wrong with them I'll put my hands in that immediate area but if they're reluctant to say what's wrong or they're not too sure, I will just run my hands close to the body.

"I'll immediately get a reaction if there's something like a disharmony - my hand would vibrate."

Long-distance healing

Like many healers he says he can work on patients over long distances, and he usually charges £15 a session. He believes that the healer is a sort of conduit for energy.

Professor John Stein from Oxford on how he sees alternative medicine developing
"We are only channels after all and therefore we seek the very highest and the very best that's available to help that person cope sometimes improving the quality of life in some ways dramatically, in some ways quite subtly," he said.

The session goes on for about 20 minutes, although some can last as long as an hour.

Healers who believe they can see auras - bands of colour around patients - say that often these rainbows change their hue during a session and can even blend with a healer's aura.

Jonathan Monckton on why greater regulation is needed in the future
Some patients also claim to feel pins and needles, or a hot or cold sensation from the healer's hands.

Sceptics would say that a period of relaxation of any form is bound to make a patient feel better.

Believers would say that it is rare for healing not to help in some way - whatever the condition of the patient.

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