1st Edition

The Touch Taboo in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life

By Tamar Swade Copyright 2020
    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    Touch has been a taboo in mainstream Western talking therapies since their inception. This book examines the effects on us of touch, and of touch deprivation – what we feel when we are touched, what it means to us, and the fact that some individuals and cultures are more tactile than others.

    The author traces the development and perpetuation of the touch taboo, puts forward counterarguments to it, outlines criteria for the safe and effective use of touch in therapy, and suggests ways of dismantling the touch taboo should we wish to do so. Through moving interviews with clients who have experienced life-changing benefits of physical contact at the hands of their therapists, the place of touch in therapy practice is re-evaluated and the therapy profession urged to re-examine its attitudes towards this important therapeutic tool.            

    This book will be essential reading for therapists, counsellors, social workers, educators, health professionals and for any general reader interested in the crucial issue of touch in everyday life.

    Introduction SECTION 1: TOUCH IN EVERYDAY LIFE 01. Animal touch research 02. Human touch research 03. Negative touch 04. The tactility scale 05. The origins of attitudes to touch; how tactile habits are formed 06. Touch in everyday life; what ‘ordinary’ people (non-clients) said about touch SECTION 2: TOUCH IN PSYCHOTHERAPY 07. Can touch help or hinder therapy? Clients’ experience 08. Wisdom from the literature 09. Origins of the touch taboo in psychotherapy 10. Counterarguments to the touch taboo 11. Criteria for the successful use of touch in therapy 12. Dismantling the touch taboo 13. Overall summary, conclusions and final thoughts


    Tamar Swade has sustained several parallel careers, as psychotherapist, teacher, musician, entertainer, and creator of ‘Theatre in Education’ plays. She loves dancing, singing, being and running in nature, singing songs with small children, and often protests against injustices.

    "This is a highly readable and fascinating book and long overdue. It makes a vitally important contribution important for both lay persons and professionals. All of us, but in particular psychotherapists, need to examine closely the critical role of touch in our own lives. And this book provides both understanding and tools to do precisely this. Its power derives from its amalgamation of both scientific evidence and personal experience both of clients and others. The author brings her own insights to bear based on her original research. She explores the origin of why touch has been so proscribed for psychotherapists and how negative this can be for the client. She provides sensitive guidance for the therapist who wants to incorporate touch more effectively in their practice."

    - Dr Richard Stevens, former Head of Psychology at the Open University and Chair of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, author of several books on psychology and occasional broadcaster on psychological topics.