I’ve always felt it is a privilege to be a massage therapist…to get to touch people with the intention of helping soothe their pain, relieve their stress, or just to make them feel pampered. I realized early on in my career is how special it is to touch someone in a way that is nurturing, compassionate, non-judgmental, noninvasive, and non-sexual, and how good that can make them (and me, as the giver) feel.
Touch is one of the first senses we develop. There is a lot of research showing that infants who are not touched fail to thrive. Many children who lack sufficient physical and emotional attention are a higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems as they grow up. (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/infant-touch/)
Dr. Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute in Miami, has pointed out that many people in the US suffer from touch deprivation.
According to research, most people in the United States have limited daily one-on-one contact with non-significant others, likely because they’re following—and responding to—ingrained social cues, says Peter Andersen, Ph.D., a professor of nonverbal communication at San Diego State University. Americans are less inclined to touch than people in many other cultures, says Andersen, who states “both our modern society and technology have introduced even more reasons for us not to touch.” School teachers are now warned that it’s inappropriate to touch children. Workplace policies often prohibit employees from touching each other, lest they be accused of sexual harassment, so be sure you’re not violating a school or company policy before offering someone a hug or a pat on the back in those settings. (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/healing-power-of-touch)
In going about our busy lives, we sometimes fail to take the time to even hug our spouse, much less make any physical contact with our friends, family, or peers. Taking the time for non-sexual, platonic touch can be a great thing…just a pat on the hand, back, shoulder or any touch-appropriate zone can convey caring, comfort, sympathy, empathy, congratulations, thanks, or any number of positive emotions, feed the need for human contact and increase our sense of personal connection, lower stress, and enhance overall well-being. We all deserve a soothing touch!