Ethical considerations regarding touching
as a therapeutic intervention

   Touch can be an essential element in the healing process of our clients. However, there are important considerations to bear in mind when using touch as a therapeutic intervention.
First, it's important to know that not all pacients respond positively to touch.
When we use it, we need to be aware that touch is a complex therapeutic intervention, imbued with cultural conventions, sensitive gender differences, and veiled power plays.
       Touch can sometimes trigger deep-seated emotional experiences that can quickly become over-activating. Therefore, it is essential that a psychotherapist is trained in the use of touch before using it as a therapeutic intervention.
     The ethical concerns, prohibitions, and even taboos surrounding the therapeutic use of touch reveal a general lack of awareness of its use as an important implicit language of healing.
The truth is that few of us have had the experience of healthy touch in our personal lives.
    Our fear of using touch as a therapeutic modality speaks to the pervasive dysfunctions of touch that many of us have experienced.
It speaks to the untold suffering that physical and sexual abuse, both dysfunctions of touch, have caused.
But equally, the fear of touch speaks to the deep longings and disappointments that the lack of loving touch leaves in our lives.
For clients who would need a restorative experience to rework the effects of early trauma and neglect and the resulting dissociative responses, it could be argued that avoiding touch re-enacts the original missing connection they experienced in childhood.

  From this perspective, the use of touch can greatly expand our psychotherapeutic horizons and add effective, perhaps critical, forms of reparative clinical interventions, particularly with early developmental issues and relational trauma.

I am Florica Motoc, an integrative psychotherapist specializing in somatic work with trauma, and I believe that healthy information can make a difference both for those who end up in a psychotherapist's office, but also for us, the specialists who have chosen to serve mental and emotional health, respecting the ethics of this profession.

(Text taken from Healing Developmental Trauma, Laurence Heller, PhD & Aline La Pierre, PsyD)

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