News Article Details

Local Practitioner's PTSD work recognized

Lincoln News Messenger - 4/9/2018

Many people in Placer County know Donna Arz, Ph.D., as the founder of Auburn's Healing Light Institute and the Forgotten Soldier Program.

But her groundbreaking work with veterans has recently been getting some recognition further afield, as well.

At the American Heart Association's EPI|Lifestyle 2018 Conference in New Orleans last month the effects of treating veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with Empathetic Touch, a holistic therapy developed by Arz, was presented to medical and science professionals.

EPI|Lifestyle is short for "Epidemiology and Prevention|Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health" and the conference focuses on a broad spectrum of factors relating to heart health.

Dr. Sachin Shah, associate professor of pharmacy practice at University of the Pacific in Stockton, who has been working with Arz and a team of medical professionals to analyze the effects of Empathetic Touch, presented the team's findings during a conference session entitled "Behavioral and Lifestyle Intervention Trials."

Empathetic Touch draws upon practices from across the medical spectrum, including energy healing, acupressure, craniosacral therapy, shamanic healing, aspects of Chinese medicine and spiritual care to treat common symptoms of PTSD such as stress, anxiety, pain and depression.

In 2016 Dr. Joseph Sky, M.D., a physician at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, heard a presentation Arz gave on Empathetic Touch therapy and was intrigued by her successful outcomes, as PTSD and coronary artery disease both cause chronic chest pain.

Sky was hopeful that PTSD in patients who suffered from both PTSD and coronary artery disease could be successfully treated with Empathetic Touch therapy, allowing physicians to focus on treatment of heart disease. Once Sky got in touch with Shah, a research team was formed.

The team, comprised of Arz, Sky and Shah, along with Michael McClain and Kathy Quach, both doctor of pharmacy candidates at UOP Stockton, and Dr. David Steinhorn with the PANDA Palliative Care Program in Washington, D.C., analyzed data collected from treatment through the Forgotten Soldier Program of more than 400 veterans suffering from PTSD.

Because a link between PTSD and cardiovascular disease has been established, Arz and the team wanted to get the word out to medical professionals about their findings on the benefits of Empathetic Touch therapy. They decided to share their findings with people who would benefit from learning about it ? medical practitioners and other medical professionals ? and they were thrilled to learn that their topic was accepted for presentation at the EPI|Lifestyle conference.

It is very exciting to have someone in our own community recognized by a national organization such as the American Heart Association for their contribution to our veterans. It is also incredibly gratifying to know that our returning soldiers are seeing positive results from this unique therapy.

For more information on Empathetic Touch therapy or the Forgotten Soldier Program please visit

Jim Holmes is the Placer County supervisor for District 3, which covers Loomis, North Auburn, Ophir, Newcastle, Penryn and most of Rocklin. To contact Holmes, call (530) 889-4010 or email


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