Clients of UK healers: A mixed methods survey

In 2015, The Confederation of Healing Organisations (CHO) carried out a survey of healing practices in the UK in order to gain information about the demographics (age and sex) of both clients and practitioners; the reasons why clients seek healing; the types of healing practice being used by practitioners; and the benefits experienced by clients.

The purpose of collecting these data, in line with the aims of the CHO, was to:

  • Help familiarise both the public and health care professionals with the nature of healing practices in the UK
  • Make the public and health care professionals more aware of the size, popularity, diversity of use, and benefits of healing today.

The findings were analysed by the University of Exeter Medical School and have now been published in the peer reviewed publication “Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice”. 

This study shows that the majority of recipients had a positive experience and felt instant benefit or immediate improvement. 

  • The main reasons for consulting were mental health issues and/or pain; many had multiple health problems.
  • 93% reported immediate benefit. Outcomes included relaxation, improved wellbeing and less pain
  • 27% of respondents reported some unusual sensory experience whilst receiving healing. 

These findings are important because they imply that healing could offer significant benefit, in particular to those people experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, or chronic pain, adding weight to the case for an integrated approach to healthcare, with Healing offered alongside more traditional treatments.

The research also highlights that clients visited the healer for their ability to provide relief on mental, physical and emotional levels holistically. Many reported some sort of sensory experience whilst the healing took place, which suggests that something special is happening as the healers work. Professor Paul Dieppe, who conducted the research, feels that this will "make life more difficult for those who are sceptical about healing and dismiss it as 'just placebo effect' - although a safe, good placebo should never be dismissed."

The findings are an important addition to research around Healing because they focus on what clients experience, rather than whether or not Healing works. It builds on earlier meta-analysis research commissioned by the CHO (which showed that healing can work).

You may download the full report here: Download file