Safe Touch Therapy
Safe Touch Therapy (STT) was created by Dr. Pati Beaudion, an advanced, experinced licensed psychologist and myself , an advanced experinced licensed massage therapist in response to the need for a transition for psychotherapy patients who need to develop more body awareness and/or seem ready to learn to accept (and eventually enjoy) touch.
Licensed body workers (chiropractors, massage therapists, shiatsu therapists and others) are trained to think in a different way about creating safety for people who have difficulty tolerating touch.
Rather than being motivated by healing the body, STT therapists are trained to think in terms of healing the reception of touch. So, for example, in a massage session a therapist might sense a tense muscle in a relatively private area and say “Is it OK if I touch here?” But in an STT session the same massage therapist would not think of asking, because she knows that 1) even asking is off-putting, and 2) survivors of abuse sometimes can’t say no.
The session begins with the client making marks on an outline of a (genderless) human body, showing where touch feels safe. Therapist and client then talk about the room, with the therapist showing that the door locks to keep out intruders, and showing the client how to unlock the door so the client can leave anytime. The therapist and client then go over the paperwork and the outline. Actual touch takes about five minutes in the first session – if the client permits touch. Then the STT therapist invites feedback and does another five minutes if the client permits.
The long-term goals of STT include:
the patient’s comfort approaching body workers, including massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc.
increased confidence, especially in setting physical boundaries
enhanced overall sensing, including knowing where the extremities are in space and having a sense of what the facial expression is conveying.
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