Dr. Hofrath

Published On: November 30, 2022

Is Touch in Psychotherapy Taboo?

The taboo imposed on touching clients in psychotherapy has no legal basis. It is a prohibition established in times long past, a taboo that is currently being reevaluated, due to the substantial current and growing scientific research. The incorrect belief that using touch in psychotherapy is illegal obstructs its acceptance as a valuable psychotherapeutic approach and interferes with the restorative healing potential that therapeutic touch offers.

Neuroscience research provides rock solid evidence of the critical role the body plays n cognitive and emotional development. There is now reliable research indicating that attuned touch is critically important for normal brain maturation and for socio-emotional and cognitive development. Touch has proven particularly important in helping to repair unfulfilled preverbal needs.

NeuroAffective Touch is a way to communicate through sensation that engages the language of the body at a level where we all have received our first imprints. NeuroAffective Touch therapists begin by addressing the three essential states necessary for secure attachment and the healthy foundation of self: “I exist,” “I am loved,” and “My needs are important.”

By addressing what to do when there are no words, when words are not enough, or when words get in the way, NeuroAffective Touch transcends the limitations of talk therapy for healing early relational wounds.

Why is it important to include the body in psychotherapy?

The body cannot be touched without engaging the mind, and the mind cannot be engaged without affecting the body. Continuous loops of information travel bottom up from the body to the brain-mind, and top down from the brain-mind to the body. An important focus in NeuroAffective Touch is the support of this bidirectional flow of information.

Bottom Up: The term bottom up refers to how what happens in the body affects the brain-mind. Bottom-up bodily processes are involuntary and unconscious. By connecting directly with the body’s bottom-up, nonverbal sensations and emotions, NeuroAffective Touch® speaks directly to the body in its own language.

Top Down: The term top down refers to how the brain responds to the information it receives from the body, and the behavior generated based on that information. Top-down responses are voluntary and conscious.

Bottom-up bodily processes and top-down brain-mind mental processes form a whole. One is incomplete without the other. The lack of reciprocity can be likened to a relationship in which only one partner participates.

Rather than privilege top-down processes as does psychotherapy, NeuroAffective Touch® invites the mind and body to participate as active partners in the mind-body information loop. By highlighting the importance of the body and emphasizing its equal importance to the mind, NeuroAffective Touch invites a conscious collaborative dialogue between body and mind.

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