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Introduction Touch is one of the most essential elements of human development, a profound method of communication, a critical component of the health and growth of infants, and a powerful healing force Bowlby, ; Harlow,; Barnett, Touch has been an essential part of ancient healing practices.
In his seminal work, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, Ashley Montagu brings together a vast array of studies shedding light on the role of skin and physical touch in human development.
He goes on to illuminate how the sensory system, the skin, is the most important organ system of the body, because unlike other senses, a human being cannot survive without the physical and behavioral functions performed by the skin.
Before Montague published his classic book inHarlow set the stage for our understanding of the importance of touch for emotional, physiological and interpersonal development in human and non-human infants.
In line with Harlow, Montagu concludes: Primarily Euro-American cultures in general, particularly that of North American white-Anglos, have developed a set of unspoken taboos in regard to touch.
Based on Cohen and Hunter and Struve's, work, following are short descriptions of these cultural, mostly unspoken, taboos: The sick and the elderly are often housed away in specialized board and care facilities, where much of time hospital staff do not value touch as an essential part of care.
Touch, in this article, refers to any physical contact occurring between a psychotherapist and a client or a patient in the context of psychotherapy.
Touch is one of many non-verbal modes of communications i. This paper looks at touch as an adjunct to verbal psychotherapy.
However, it also reviews the literature on body psychotherapies where touch is a key therapeutic tool. Touch is also likely to increase the sense of connection and trust between a therapist and a client Phalan, ; Smith et. The enhancement of the therapeutic alliance is of utmost importance, and as has been extensively documented, the quality of the relationship between therapist and client is the best predictor of therapeutic outcome Lambert, Touch, in this paper, refers primarily to touch initiated by the therapist.
However, when a client initiates or requests touch, the therapists must use his or her clinical judgment to ascertain whether providing or withholding touch is ethical and clinically advantageous in each therapeutic situation. Starting with Freud, traditional psychoanalysis looks at touch as an obstacle to analysis and cure of neurosis Fosshage, For a variety of reasons, the field at large has embraced the analytic hands-off stance.
More recently, risk management guidelines, attorneys' advice columns and ethical and legal experts have joined the psychoanalysts to warn us about the perils of touch. Touch in therapy has joined the list of modern risk management-inspired taboos: Even those who endorse risk management reluctantly agree that a courteous handshake may be unavoidable.
Viewing any non-erotic touch as the first step on the slippery slope towards sexual relationships is one of the major erroneous beliefs and obstacles to understanding the importance of touch in therapy. Some of the negative and frightening messages we have been inundated with come from prominent therapists, many of whom are psychoanalytically oriented.
One example is Menninger, who asserts that physical contact with a patient is "evidence of incompetence or criminal ruthlessness of the analysts" cited in Horton, et.
Simon, in a similar vein, instructs therapists to "Foster psychological separateness of the patient. Wolbergagrees: Similarly Karbelnig shockingly stated: He summarizes his list of nine arguments against physical touch by stating "Most likely, physical contact at the very least risks adversely affecting the psychotherapeutic relationship in any number of ways.
There are many different approaches to touch in therapy. One approach, often referred to as body psychotherapy, or somatic psychotherapy, sometimes uses touch as one of its primary tools while also employing verbal communication.
It is a commonly misheld belief that all somatic or body psychotherapists utilize physical touch in psychotherapy.
While many do, there are others who advise against touch. The concept that we are embodied beings, and the respect for the unity between psychological and bodily aspects of being, is common to all forms of somatic body psychotherapy.
These schools of thought recognize the body as a vehicle of communication and healing. Another approach, and the focus of this paper, employs touch as an adjunct to verbal psychotherapy or counseling.
Body psychotherapies include schools, such as Reichain Reich, and its numerous branches, Bioenergetics Lowen,Somatic Caldwell, or Hakomi Kurtz, These approaches focus on harnessing the healing power of touch.
There are numerous other psychotherapeutic orientations that have embraced touch.Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or timberdesignmag.com a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same timberdesignmag.com "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who.
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Touch is one of the most essential elements of human development, a profound method of communication, a critical component of the health and growth of infants, and a powerful healing force (Bowlby, ; Harlow, , ; Barnett, ).
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