I have over the years worked with a few people who are quite aversive to touch. Many of these though not all have been adolescents at an an-patient adolescent mental health unit. Nearly all of these have been because either another professional or a friend have suggested that massage might be helpful. A significant number of these clients have had abusive experiences.
With nearly all of this group of clients the first appointment has been with another professional or a friend in the room with myself and the client, sometimes at my own insistence and sometimes at the wish of the client. This enables the client to feel safer especially if the reason for the aversion to touch is abuse.
I have been really pleased with all of these clients that they have been able to enjoy the experience and many of them have gone on to be able to have massage without a third party present.
With this group of clients I am even more careful than normal to always tell them that if anything makes them feel uncomfortable they should say so at once and I will not feel offended. With these clients it can happen even when the touch would be seen by an observer as completely innocent. It is important that I can respect the client’s wishes, experiences and boundaries. It is only in this way that they can learn to trust and to be discriminating in that trust.