The effects of touch in the psychotherapeutic relationship. Should physical contact be used in therapy?

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Curran, Antoinette
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Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Touch can be used as a form of communication. Especially in an intense situation such as therapy, touch can have a profound effect on the course of treatment. The significance of touch will differ depending on each individual. Physical contact between the Therapist and client is often debated among the different disciplines in psychotherapy and psychodynamic therapy. While Humanistic and Body Psychotherapy view touch as necessary and effective in the treatment of the client, Psychodynamic therapy opposes the idea of using touch. Psychoanalytic theory suggests that touch will hinder the client’s development and interfere with transference (Phelan, 2009, Wernicke, 2011). This dissertation aims to review the research regarding these opposing opinions and to look at the possible effects of using touch in the therapeutic space. Author Keywords: Touch, Physical Contact, Transference