Appropriate physical contact is a basic human need. When I worked as a mental health nurse at a therapeutic community for adolescents, I worked with many who had been sexually abused. It was while working there that I trained as an aromatherapist and massage practitioner. Some of those I worked with over the ten years I was there were almost phobic bout physical contact and others reacted in the opposite way often seeking it in inappropriate ways – trying to provoke staff into play fights for instance.After discussion in the staff group, I started running sessions on a regular basis with a chaperone present where I would do back massages using essential oils.
There were a number of young people there for whom weekly massage became an important part of their healing process. I was reminded of this recently when I saw a client who had seen a Shiatsu practitioner who also did counselling but had only had counselling there recently.
As I was leaving the room to allow her to get undressed, she briefly burst into tears and said that she just craved the physical contact.
She told me that she really enjoyed the massage and I don’t know what her specific issues are that led to anxiety and depression. She may tell me in later sessions or not, that is up to the client. I just felt privileged to be a part of her healing process.