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Touch in Therapy:   Advanced Course and Recent Developments

Clinical Update
By Zur Institute

View a complete list of Clinical Updates.

 

Our advanced Course, Touch in Psychotherapy, Level II (6CE),
fulfills Law & Ethics Requirement: fulfills the Law/Ethics Requirement:

 

We have been told by ethics experts, attorneys, continuing education instructors and supervisors never to touch our clients beyond a handshake. Touch has been increasingly perceived as a risk management issue to be avoided rather than as one of the most powerful ways to connect with and heal our clients. The paranoid notion that non-sexual touch is likely to lead to a sexual relationship, is countered by greater understanding of the importance of touch for human connection and bonding and in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. In spite of a half century of extensive knowledge on the emotional, relational, physiological and behavioral benefits of touch, many therapists still shy away from appropriate non-sexual touch due to fear of boards, attorneys and lack of training.

Even though most therapists touch their clients by patting them on the back, holding a hand or giving an appropriate hug at the end of sessions, they do not write or talk much about it. The good news is that more clinicians are open to looking at the benefits of touch. Even though US culture tends to sexualize all forms of touch, clinicians are increasingly aware of the importance of touch with those who are depressed, anxious and stressed, as well as with children and women who were sexually abused.

Our advanced Course, Touch in Psychotherapy, Level II consists of the following articles:

TOUCH AND THE STANDARD OF CARE:
This is one of the first articles to describe how clinically appropriate touch clearly falls within the standard of care in psychotherapy and counseling. This includes ritualistic or socially acceptable gestures, such as a handshake or hug, conversational markers, such as a touch of the hand or a consoling or reassuring, grounding touch. Then there is body psychotherapy or somatic therapy touch, such as Reichian Therapy, Bioenergetics, Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi and Rubenfeld systems, that also clearly fall within the standard of care. The article articulates measures one should take to document, when to obtain consent, and how to assess the affect and effectiveness of touch in therapy.

THE MEANING OF TOUCH FOR THE THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIPS. BY JAMES FOSSHAGE, Ph.D.:
This is a truly ground breaking article, which articulates the many ways that touch can be used in psychodynamic and other psychotherapies. It emphasizes the importance of touch for therapeutic alliance and how touch increases trust and openness between therapists and clients. Dr. Fosshage discusses the clinical use of touch not only in Psychodynamically oriented therapies but also with women who have been abused and other populations and modalities.

FROM FELT-SENSE TO FELT-SELF: NEUROAFFECTIVE TOUCH AND THE RELATIONAL MATRIX BY ALINE LAPIERRE, Psy.D., with an introduction by Allan N. Schore, Ph.D.:
Dr. LaPierre discusses recent neurobiological research indicating that critical levels of tactile input of a specific quality and emotional content in early postnatal life are important for normal brain maturation. Based on her argument against Field and other researchers, she discusses the importance of touch for human development and its role in the therapeutic environment, including Psychodynamic oriented therapies. She summarizes her short article with, "From this perspective, the touch taboo and resulting touch illiteracy limit our psychotherapeutic horizons and rob us of effective, perhaps critical, forms of clinical reparative interventions and interactive couple and caregiver education."

ABOUT THE ETHICS OF PROFESSIONAL TOUCH, BY COURTENAY YOUNG:
The author, Courtenay Young, is the President of the European Association for Body-Psychotherapy (EABP) and is a leading authority on the topic of the ethical and clinical aspects of therapeutic touch. He extensively covers the ethical and clinical aspects of touch in therapy as very few other articles do.

ETHICAL AND LEGAL ASPECTS OF TOUCH IN PSYCHOTHERAPY:
Provides a review of the codes of ethics on touch, an ethical decision-making process and a summary of legal aspects in regard to touch in therapy.

 

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