The Ethics of Touch – a course for health professionals

  • Type:
  • Seminar/workshop
  • Time:
  • 4 hours
The ethics of touch 4 hour workshop/ course for health professionals Covering : -negotiating consent, -client- therapist transference and counter transference, -dealing with previously traumatized clients, -and self awareness. Workshop summary Working with boundaries and touch is maybe a new area for courses to cover, but it is imperative for any health professionals who touch their clients, to be aware of the ramifications, trauma or transference related, that may come up while either negotiating the work to be done with the client, or while the client is actually on the table. A good self awareness, and ability to be both cognizant of ourselves as therapists and of the subtle cues of the client, beyond both verbal and written consent, is helpful in negotiating healthy boundaries and a clear professional relationship in today’s highly charged society. Many unclear messages and social conditionings can mask a client’s real feelings and ability to give true consent in a setting where there is a clear power differential between therapist and client. This course offers a chance for professionals to discuss, learn about, and explore their own physical, emotional and mental responses, which in turn allows the therapist to hear and honour a client’s whole self in treatment. The Polyvagal theory (Stephen Porges) of touch, Peter Levine’s work on trauma, and my experience in the field of bioenergetics, will form the basis of this workshop. What participants will learn and experience: - To be aware of what our touch and our intention transmits to a client - To be aware and therefore more in control of our own needs and desires, and how to put these aside to really be present for our clients - How working with touch can serve clients, and help their healing process - How all human beings need touch, and how this can help a client learn to ‘feel’ - How to set and communicate healthy and professional boundaries, and create a sense of safety for our clients to fully enter into their own process of healing. - How to take care of our own needs for touch, and to know when we need to take time for our own self-care - A method for understanding and working with the different types of touch in a more profound way, in both a giving and receiving role, and developing a method of explaining this to clients, to facilitate transformation and healing - This is an experiential workshop, participants will remain clothed, and everyone will have full choice around each of the exercises presented. Schedule of instruction: total 4 hours of instruction and hands on practice 30 mins. - Lecture: review of importance of touch, Stephen Porges ‘polyvagal theory’ 30 mins - Discussion with whiteboard notes – How do we as touch professionals have the opportunity to heal, and conversely the opportunity to re-traumatize clients, and what can we do to keep our touch safe and healthy? 60 mins - Creating Boundaries and safety with clients – somatic exercises and communication skill building and reflection/ discussion 1) Finding a sense of yes and no in the body - learning how to find and feel our own authentic ‘No!’ Is an exploration of self. Centring yourself in your body and with the breath, find a sense of the word No in your body. How does it feel? Can you explore the different feelings of No when you are angry, soft, tentative, apologetic, straightforward, casual, emphatic? Can you speak these different NO’s out loud. If you can’t find a no for yourself, can you find it on behalf of someone else? Someone to whom injustice is being done? A child perhaps? Express it physically with movement and also with voice. Shake out. Then explore a Yes! In the same way. Is it hard to access a yes? Or a no? What might this tell you about yourself? Where might a client be afraid, unwilling, unaware of their own yes and no? Discuss. What empowers us to follow the inner yes and no? - slowing down and being attentive - clarity of communication - safety and agreement not to shame What takes us out of full heart with our answers and ourselves? - managing expectations of others (therapist, parent, spouse, friend) - low self esteem - lack of confidence - power imbalance Catch yourself when you slip into following your usual scripts for touch, welcome any new input or change of mind. Welcoming a no - can you allow a client to say NO without judgement? For a client to ask for what they want of a boundary they want makes them feel vulnerable. They could fear being shamed for having these boundaries or feelings, they may have been shamed in the past. We as therapists may fear that putting a request or a suggestion of treatment will put someone in a position where they feel they ‘should’ conform to our wishes. Can we, as therapists, honour and respect the client in their own authenticity? Practice with a partner - person A suggests a treatment option, person B says “no, I’m not comfortable with that”, person A says “Ok, thanks for taking care of yourself.” Repeat a few times and notice how it feels to accept and honour a NO. Discuss how to make a new client feel empowered as soon as they walk into your treatment room. Ie. allow a clear path to the door, don’t block their perceived ‘escape’ route to the door, ask if the lighting is to their liking, if there is anything about the surroundings that makes them uncomfortable, address their concerns as much as possible. Give them options for undress, draping, positions of treatment. Practice and or discuss Peter Levine’s exercises with the fight, flight or freeze response. A practice ‘fight’ using yes and no, a visualization of running away from a scary animal, and the dissociation response in the body would be useful here. 15 mins - break 60 mins - Exercises in touch – 1 minute game (taking-allowing, giving-receiving) This ‘game’ allows the participants to feel into the differences between giving and taking or allowing and receiving. IN partners - person A asks “how would you like to be touched on your hand for 1 minute?” Person B replies with what they want. Here person A is ‘serving’ and person B is ‘receiving’. Then the partners switch. After a few reps, person A asks ‘How would you like to touch me on my hand for 1 minute?” And person B replies with what they want. Here person A is allowing and person B is Taking. Giving a massage is an interesting combination of these taking and serving. We, as therapists have to ‘take in’ information, therefore we ask to touch certain body parts in order to do this and the client ‘allows’ this (with consent). A massage therapist also offers ‘service’ to what the client wants and asks for, so this dynamic also shows up in the treatment room. 30 mins- Self and group reflection – journal, and dialogue in partners around when and how we can stay present to the needs of our clients as a primary focus, and put aside our own needs and desires while in the role of ‘therapist’. Brainstorm on large paper. 30 mins - review and discuss in the larger group Ailsa has been a practicing therapist for over 7 years. She works with clients using the vehicle of myofascial release, as well as other massage modalities to bring awareness and connection on all levels of mind, body and spirit. She brings her knowledge and relevant material from her study of trauma, consent, ethics and Bioenergetics. Ailsa is passionate about helping other therapists clarify and learn skills in negotiating boundaries and consent so that work with clients can be a positive and healing experience.
Ailsa Keppie
Inner Waves Centre, suite 635, 5991 Spring Garden Road,
Halifax , NS
  • Units:
  • 2
  • Approved by:
  • NS
  • Prerequisites:
  • NONE
  • Category:
  • Primary
  • Course Target:
  • ALL
  • Course Class:
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