Who hasn’t wished they could help their hurting pet simply by touching them? Well, that might just be possible thanks to a holistic energy-based healing therapy known as Healing Touch for Animals (HTA). The treatment, an offshoot of Healing Touch (HT), uses the science of energy medicine and biofield noninvasive therapy to stimulate healing responses in patients.
HT was developed in the late 1980s by Janet Mentgen, a nurse who shared her energy-based hand healing methods with other medical professionals. She eventually found the Healing Touch Worldwide Foundation, which taught the technique to others and supported the program’s research. In 1996, a veterinary technician and HT Certified Instructor/Practitioner, Carol Komitor, realized the same methods could also be used on animals and launched HTA.
The Spy recently sat down with Blair Hope, HTA Practitioner, and area Training Coordinator, to talk about her experience with this method.
At first glance, Hope is not someone you would expect to see in this field. With a degree in Psychology from Virginia Tech, she worked in social work/human services and then as a pre-school director and teacher. “To me, it was a natural progression,” she said. “I have always been passionate about working with children and animals.”
Currently living in Royal Oak, she was inspired to explore energy work to help her dog, a lab named Bear. He had just turned 12, and she wanted a holistic way to keep him healthy. Her research led her to HTA and an intro class in Baltimore. “It was the most amazing experience,” she said. “I could physically feel something in my hands; I didn’t quite know exactly how or what that was at the time. But I could feel some tingling, and that something was happening, and it felt good.”
Hope began to ‘play’ with that experience, practicing and seeing health improvements both in her dog and on animals of friends who would allow her to ‘experiment’ on them. After a couple of years, she decided to take an additional class. By this time, Bear was having mobility issues, and she brought him with her. They learned a technique that worked on the energy of the spine. “He had limped into the class,” she said, “and when I took him out for a potty break, he was walking like a young puppy.” There was no other explanation for it; this stuff was real, Hope thought and began her study for certification in this field. At first, she started offering her services on a volunteer basis, and when referrals started coming in, she knew it was time to make it her life work. She now offers sessions to a variety of animals and, for now, only through distance healing, as it allows her to help more clients.
Hope told us that people are most curious about how energy healing works: “Energy exists in each of us. We’re made up of electromagnetic energy and have energy fields around us. If you’ve ever felt somebody come up behind you, and you didn’t know that they were there, that’s the energy fields interacting with each other. Also, if you’ve ever walked into a place and get a strange feeling and don’t know why, it’s again the energy field working.” In her practice, Hope begins by assessing that energy system in the animal and then uses various techniques to clear, strengthen, and balance it.
You can see it happen, Hope says. There is a noticeable physiological response to the healing in animals. Most often, it will trigger a relaxation response where the animal might lie down, yawn, and maybe fall asleep. This happens in combination with the owner’s feedback that their animals were changed in some way; they were moving, behaving, eating better, or otherwise improving. “I love working with animals,” she says, “because people can explain away anything. But animals don’t have that preconceived notion that they should feel different because they received energy work. And when they are different, it’s just confirmation over and over again that it’s working.”
So who are Hope’s clients? Usually, she told us, they are people who have a strong bond with their pets and consider them part of the family. They want to understand and help resolve whatever pain or distress their animal may be in. “Majority of the people who reach out to me have gone to the vet, a trainer, or a behaviorist and feel there’s still a piece missing. So many people who come to me have tried something else already.”
It’s important to note that HTA does not replace traditional medical or veterinary health care. The teaching promotes a cooperative model that bridges holistic animal care with conventional veterinary medicine. “I feel like my job is to help provide another way to find pieces of the puzzle,” says Hope. “A different perspective and additional information to try to find the solution for your pet.”
That solution, at times, might take an unexpected form. There is one more feature to Hope’s healing which came about quite unexpectedly and much to her surprise. It happened while she was working with a dog that was quite ill and whose owner was upset and didn’t know what to do. “I did some Healing Touch techniques just to give the animal support and help with comfort and pain whether he needed to heal or if it was his time to pass. While working on him, I kept seeing a picture of a golden key. As I was leaving, I mentioned this golden key, telling the owner I didn’t know what it was about but felt it was really important. An hour after I left, she called and said, ‘you’re never going to believe this. I went to my room to put something away in my jewelry box, and there was a key in it that I don’t even know how long it’s been there.’ The key was engraved with the words: ‘Let Go.’ And she knew looking at the key that he had sent her this message and it was his time. She understood what needed to be done and felt at peace.”
That was the beginning of that aspect of her practice—communicating with animals, a connection that comes to her in various ways. Sometimes it’s like a picture or a movie, she says; sometimes, it’s a thought, a word, or even several words. A lot of times, those words are ones she usually does not use or images she doesn’t have any personal experience with. For instance, she recounts the time when the owner wanted to know how to get their sick and stubborn horse to take their medicine. The horse, Hope said, asked for the remedy to be put on the ‘sticky stuff.’ Hope had no idea what that meant, but the owner did, and the problem was solved.
There are many stories like this and many clients who are thankful she got involved.
Just ask Krystle Smothers from Chicago. She’ll tell you about her dog Java, a nervous rescue with anxiety issues. “Blair worked with both of us to get us balanced. She’s given me little phrases and things to use with him when things set him off, to help pull him back into reality and let him know he’s safe. She’s helped me understand how my words, emotions, and thoughts affect him. And it’s helped me stay grounded, as well.”
But not everyone is a believer. At least not at first. We spoke to Jane Brown, who lives on the Eastern Shore and owns Charlie, a Yorkie who was born brain-damaged and who, at ten weeks old and unable to eat, was still being fed through a syringe. “Even the vet said he wouldn’t make it,” said Brown. A friend told her about Hope, and when Brown expressed skepticism, she offered to pay for the session. “So Blair called and did what she does. She worked with Charlie and told him he had to eat so he could thrive and grow. After she hung up, it was almost like a light bulb went off in him. He got up, went to his food bowl, and started eating. She saved him, and yes, I’m a believer now.” Charlie will turn five years old this year.
Hope is no longer surprised by these stories. What still astonishes her, however, are the changes she has experienced since starting her practice. More specifically, the unique understanding she now has of life and death, something that her beloved dog Bear first taught her. “He was 17 and getting weaker and weaker. I saw how much physical comfort the energy work brought him and how much peace it brought to both of us. And it was such a gift to be able to give back to an animal who always gave me such unconditional love. That’s why I love working with senior pets, end-of-life, and hospice. I knew I wanted to share that peace and that comfort with other people and their pets.
I have learned something from every single animal I work with. They have so many lessons to teach us, and I’m in awe of how much better than us they are at understanding unconditional love and the whole process of life.”
For more information, Blair Hope may be reached at: https://www.blairhope.com
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.