Talk about Touch

Listening to the radio this morning, I heard yet another story about a young person being told they had to wait forty weeks for treatment with CAMHS. (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) because they were not actually trying to kill themselves or self harming. In fact this person was doing themselves significant self harm by washing their hands for over half an hour at a time, several times a day.

Clearly the resources going into CAMHS  are not sufficient for the need that is out there and more is needed to take up the slack. Sadly some of this is private provision which I believe shouldn’t be needed in a caring society. Some is taken up by projects such as here now in social services in Huntingdon where I have been doing some aromatherapy work with young people over the past year.

I will also see young people in my practice but a parent must be there at least for the first appointment if under 16.

Touch is a normal part of life. Some establishments schools, mental health units and others have become afraid of it. What is actually needed is for appropriate touch to be normal and talked about. Does it make us feel safe, comforted, nervous, afraid or even aroused? If the culture we create allows us all, adults and young people alike to say this and what we think about the feelings we have, then it is possible to have a mature relationship with touch.

Of course this demands that as well as being able talk about it we also need to be able to listen to what the other is saying and respect it. Of course if a vulnerable person wants a boundary to be crossed, the person in a position of power such as an aromatherapist or massage therapist has to be able to say that something is not appropriate while still respecting the feelings and emotions of the client.

In my work with social services the client remains fully clothed at all times. (If you ignore shoes and socks which come off for a foot massage!) Some clients there just have a hand massage, others have hands feet and head and neck. Just as with the adults I see in private practice it is totally down to them.