What are the Advantages of Touch?
Bloch Healing can sometimes have an advantage over the usual forms of psychological talk therapy in that it is very often easier for people to allow a Meeting, the goal of any Healing therapy, when not encountering the therapist in a situation of face-to-face relating that can seem to the Client to require that they explain and define themselves, until they can feel sufficiently understood and accepted to allow themselves to be contacted as a person, to be Met.
With BH, the conventions of dialogue with language - thinking, analysing and explaining - are bypassed by the directness of touch, offering an immediate and direct personal contact. There can be little doubt that there is something basic and fundamental about touch that makes it seem more natural for many people to allow themselves almost immediately to be touched in a way that permits a level of intimacy in relating that might take months, or even years, in psychotherapy.
Communication through touch provides an opportunity for certain Clients that might have a natural preference for this modality to benefit from the ‘person-centred’ approach, and for many people hands-on contact is intuitively more congenial. In addition, BH has proven to be effective with people not always considered to be good candidates for person-centred therapy, including people with communication disabilities, those who find eye-to-eye contact difficult and those who feel threatened by an offer to ‘Meet’ in the traditional psychotherapeutic format.
The sensitivity of the Healer to the finer details of the physical nature of the Client, including muscle tone, posture, balance, etc, provides a significant aspect of the therapeutic encounter in BH. BH may be of particular assistance to Clients suffering from chronic physical discomfort or pain, as well as to Clients who have experienced physical abuse, the contact being experienced as a direct ‘antidote’ to the earlier injury and abuse of trust. Some Clients have said that they have been waiting all of their lives to be touched in this way.
For the Healer also, touch has many advantages. It is well known, and established through philosophical discourse, that words lack the compass and uniformity of meaning ever fully to convey the near infinite layers of information that may potentially be communicated to another person. Even great poets generally struggle through a plethora of unsatisfactory drafts in order to settle upon an ordering of words that conveys their full intent. Although, it is true, the connection between therapist and client is facilitated through several modalities – gesture, tone of voice, breathing, etc, etc – nonetheless, where words are used, convention generally dictates that they be considered to contain the primary and principal information. With touch, on the other hand, communication is in a form more comparable with music in its potential for both immediacy and complexity.
And touch itself is therapeutic. There is a considerable body of modern research showing that touch is important in the maintenance of physiological and psychological health in adults and completely indispensable for the development and continued health of infants and children. Recent studies have demonstrated that touch triggers a cascade of positive chemical responses and a decrease in stress hormones that correlate well with the biochemical changes seen in a return to health after clinical depression and other psychological and physiological diseases.
Finally, in BH sessions guided movement is an opportunity for the Client to carry the sense of their fuller relationship with themselves, and between themselves and the Healer, into activity. The goal here is one of graceful movement, the full expression of oneself in communication with another person and with the environment in general. Clients usually report that the insights gained in this way are particularly helpful in their understanding of the principles and the practice of BH.
Potential limitations of BH compared with person-centred psychotherapy include less opportunity to talk through specific issues, and an unsuitability for certain Clients who have difficulties with being touched.