Touch in Therapy
Having been a Massage Therapist with over 20 years experience, I know well the power that touch has to heal both body and heart. As a Licensed Clinical Counselor and Spiritual Counselor, I sometimes use touch in therapy to assist clients in their healing process. While no national mental health organizations (and very few states) prohibit the use of touch in therapy, many clinicians operate under the assumption that touch within therapy is inherently unethical. This assumption is primarily rooted in fears of litigation, cases of sexual boundary violations between therapist and client, our own low-touch culture in which adult touch is over-sexualized, and a lack of training on the ethics and appropriate use of Psychotherapeutic Touch.
My passion is less about training mental health professionals to use touch within therapy (though I do provide such training), but to provide unbiased information so that clinicians may make informed clinical decisions. I am committed to setting a standard for the language and definition of Psychotherapeutic Touch as it is not the use of Psychotherapeutic Touch within therapy that is unethical, it is the use of touch that is nonpsychotherapeutic which crosses ethical therapeutic boundaries. I provide training to Mental Health Professionals working in private practice as well as to mental health organizations and the clinicians who work there. If you’d like to keep abreast of latest research, articles, and thoughts about psychotherapeutic touch, please like the facebook community page https://www.facebook.com/PsychotherapeuticTouch
Fundamentals of Psychotherapeutic Touch Training for Mental Health Clinicians
Most therapists receive little to no training on touch as a clinical intervention. Moreover, clinicians are poorly informed about the current research related to touch in therapy. I offer 20-hour, weekend trainings designed to get mental health clinicians up-to-date on ethics, research, indications and contraindications related to psychotherapeutic touch. You will learn how to discuss touch with your clients and how to avoid potential lawsuits. You will also have an opportunity to explore how your own culture and experience shades your beliefs of and comfort with the use of touch within the psychotherapeutic container. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list for the next public training, please email me.
Mental Health Organizations and Psychotherapeutic Touch
Many (and possibly the majority of) mental health organizations have no-touch policies based on two main beliefs; 1) no-touch policies will prevent expensive litigation, and 2) touch within therapeutic settings is inherently unethical. Neither of these beliefs is actually true. To find out why no-touch policies can actually increase your risk, link here. If you would like me to speak to your organization, please contact me about your specific need. I can design an appropriate length training to meet your organizational needs.
Supervision groups are on hold at this time. Participants understand that though As an experienced clinician, spiritual counselor, and expert in the use and ethics of touch in therapy, supervision is the medium through which Psychotherapeutic Touch Training is deepened. Supervisees must complete the two-day Fundamentals of Psychotherapeutic Touch Training prior to attending supervision groups. Requires a six-month commitment.
Resources & Article of Interest
- National Professional Organizations’ Codes of Ethics
- Santa Clara, S. (2012). What’s Wrong with No-touch Policies? (page 6)
- Santa Clara, S. (2011). Clinical Validation and Application of Touch as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention in Public Mental Health Settings
- Zur, O. (2010). Ethical and Legal Aspects of Touch in Psychotherapy.
- Zur, O. and Nordmarken, N. (2011). To Touch Or Not To Touch: Exploring the Myth of Prohibition On Touch In Psychotherapy And Counseling.
- Zur, O. (2007). Touch in Therapy and the Standard of Care in Psychotherapy and Counseling: Bringing clarity to illusive relationships.