Health: Healing therapy

Mar 7th '22

This section should be read in conjunction with the entry on ‘Health: Therapies (General)


What is healing therapy?

This is also known as, or can involve, spiritual or religious healing (faith healing), Reiki, psychic healing, intercessory prayer or therapeutic touch. Healers believe that they can act as a conduit for channelling energy to facilitate self-healing in the patient. Practitioners may scan the patient’s body with hands, usually without touching it.


What claims are likely to be acceptable?

The ASA is likely to accept claims that healing therapy can provide spiritual and emotional healing.  It is also likely to accept claims that spiritual healing can provide spiritual and emotional comfort & support during times of illness, grief and stress.


What claims are likely to be a problem?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have yet to see any convincing evidence that any form of healing therapy can be used to help with, or treat, physical or mental medical conditions and symptoms.


As such, marketers making claims that healing therapy can be used to treat symptoms and medical conditions would need to hold robust documentary evidence in the form of clinical trials, See CAP Guidance on the types and levels of evidence that the ASA would expect to see.


Where the ads relate to religious faith, claims to treat symptoms or medical conditions are likely to be considered to be irresponsible.


In 2012 the ASA upheld complaints about a leaflet that stated “NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY!” and listed various diseases. While the ASA acknowledged that the advertiser believed that prayer could treat illness, it concluded that the ad made unsubstantiated claims and could discourage people, particularly the vulnerable or those suffering from undiagnosed symptoms, from seeking essential treatment. It ruled the ad could encourage false hope in those suffering from the named conditions and was therefore irresponsible (Healing on the Streets – Bath, 13 June 2013).


What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?

Ads that refer to medical conditions which should be treated by a medical professional are likely to be considered to discourage essential medical treatment, unless that treatment is being carried out under the supervision of a suitable qualified health professional (Rule 12.2). See this CAP Guidance on references to medical conditions in ads for health, beauty and slimming products.


See ‘Psychics, Spiritualists, Fortune Tellers, Astrologers and Clairvoyants’ and ‘Therapies: Reiki’. See: Guidance on Health Therapies and Evidence


Source: CAP


Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.


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