Touch Transforms Lives

Touching and being touched are fundamental means of human interaction. Physical touch is the foundational element of human development. At every stage of our life we need human touch and loving affection for healthy emotional and neurological growth. When touch does not occur in the course of our early development the physical, emotional and cognitive ramifications are far reaching and include the kind of failure to thrive and infant mortality found in the orphanages of the 1900s. People deprived of touch are prone to compromised immune systems, poor self -regulation, isolation, depression and violence.

Touch can be casual as in a passing pat on the back or a gentle touch of your hand or it can be more conscious and intentional such as hugging, comforting  or bodywork. Whatever way it arrives, the experience of being touched contributes significantly to our health and well being.

Unfortunately in the United States social touch is more limited than in other countries. As a culture we are touch-starved. There was a study in the 1960s by Sidney Jourard, whereby he observed the conversations of friends in different parts of the world as they socialized in a coffee shop.  What they recorded was truly fascinating. In England, during the same 1 hour time span the two friends touched each other zero times. In the United States, the friends touched each other twice.In France, however, the number jumped to 110 times per hour. And in Puerto Rico, the friends touched each other 180 times!

To the extent that the absence of touch is deleterious, the presence of touch can be equally as beneficial and even transformative.

Touch is experienced as a physical sensation and also affectively as an emotion.Touch communicates feelings.It soothes and signals safety and trust. A warm nurturing touch slows the heat rate and calms cardiovascular stress. Studies have shown that hugging produces oxytocin, the “ love hormone,” that reduces stress, lowers cortisol levels and increases a sense of trust and security. Touch also conveys compassion and opens our hearts. We say we are “touched”when we are moved emotionally by an experience.  There is also a need for psychological touch – attention,care, recogniton, love, – that is as great as the need for physical touch.

As we understand the effects of lack of touch and recognize the benefits of touch, it becomes clear that therapies  that use direct touch can have a depth and potency that can access healing that is not available without it.

Touch is the key that gives us access to the body’s knowings. Our bodies are  memory holders. It is in and through our five senses that we live our lives. Our bodies remember and are shaped by the events, feelings, and thoughts that we have experienced. It has been our constant companion and as such carries a record of our lives in its every cell. Touch is a direct doorway to this storehouse of knowledge.

People often think of psychological issues as taking place in the mind, however, over the past 30 years of seeing clients we know, and science has now confirmed, that there is no separation of body and mind; they are inseparable. Feelings take place in the body as well as the mind. The body is the vehicle for emotional expression and that happens primarily through movement. Sometimes the feeling can be expressed through a sad facial expression, an angry hand movement, a stomped foot or large jump for joy. There are also the chemical shifts in the body that are associated with emotions. Candace Pert in her research actually identified the molecule of emotion. Touch can access these emotions far more readily than talk alone. Touch that is accompanied by the compassionate dialogue of awareness promotes both physical and emotional healing

In Transformative Touch we touch with our words, our hearts and our hands guiding clients to full embodiment, transforming their lives, and awakening a sense of aliveness and joy.