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Psychology Research & Methodology

Touch in the Helping Professions

Research, Practice and Ethics

edited by Martin Rovers, Judith Malette & Manal Guirguis-Younger

University of Ottawa Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2018
Research & Methodology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
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    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
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Touch may well be one of the least understood or talked about subjects in the helping professions. A discussion on the importance and ethics of positive, caring, and appropriate touch in professions such as teaching, nursing and counselling is long overdue. Touch in the Helping Professions delivers just that, weaving together scholarly evidence, research and clinical practice from a wide range of perspectives encompassing philosophy, theology, psychology, and anthropology to challenge assumptions about the role of touch in the helping professions. 
The contributors to the volume focus not only on the overarching roles of gender, age, culture and life experience, but go beyond to encompass canine-assisted therapy, touch deprivation, sacred objects, as well as key ethical considerations. The prevailing lack of dialogue, due to fear of contravening ethical boundaries, has stood in the way of an open and responsible discussion on the use of touch in therapy. Touch in the Helping Professions is a welcome and much needed contribution to the field—a window onto a fundamental need.
This book is published in English.
Cet ouvrage offre un ensemble de données probantes et de résultats cliniques à l’appui du toucher dans le développement physique et émotionnel. Il est structuré selon trois axes : la théorie sur le toucher; la pratique du toucher dans un contexte de thérapie, et les questions éthiques. Il aborde la question du rôle du genre, de l’âge, de la culture et de l’expérience de vie, des sujets comme la zoothérapie, la privation sensorielle, des objets sacrés, et des considérations d’ordre éthique. Les approches variées – philosophie, théologie, psychologie, anthropologie – remettent en question les présuppositions, offrent un contexte historico-culturelprofessionnel, et font appel à des données primaires. 
Les collaborateurs soutiennent que le toucher sain et non sexuel n’est pas suffisamment enseigné dans le cadre de la formation professionnelle. Cette absence de dialogue – engendrée par la crainte de dépasser des bornes éthiques, fait en sorte qu’une discussion ouverte et responsable sur l’utilisation du toucher dans un cadre thérapeutique ne peut avoir lieu, alors même qu’elle contribuerait aux balises théoriques de notre compréhension de cet enjeu fondamental.
Ce livre est publié en anglais.

About the authors

Martin Rovers is a professor at the Faculty of Human Sciences, Saint Paul University, Ottawa and an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists Approved Supervisor. He is the author of several books, including Healing the Wounds in Couple Relationships (Novalis, 2005).

Martin Rovers' profile page

Judith Malette is a certified clinical psychologist and full professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences at Saint Paul University (Ottawa).

Judith Malette's profile page

Manal Guirguis-Younger is Full Professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences at Saint Paul University. Her research focuses on homelessness, palliative care, and alternative models of health service delivery to vulnerable populations.

Manal Guirguis-Younger's profile page

Excerpt: Touch in the Helping Professions: Research, Practice and Ethics (edited by Martin Rovers, Judith Malette & Manal Guirguis-Younger)

We are not angels but human beings with a physical body and a sense of touch. […] To live in a world where there is the absence of caring touch or very limited touch can produce physical death as well as emotional and spiritual death.

Editorial Reviews

"This book is an exploration of touch in the context of psychotherapy, considering a range of perspectives, the appropriate use and the influence of both social and cultural values. (...) The collation of ideas is embedded with scholarly evidence, research and expert perspectives creating an interesting and thought provoking read."

Ibadete Fetahu

This collation of ideas is embedded with scholarly evidence, research and expert perspectives creating an interesting and thought provoking read. (...) I have recommended this book to a number of different people from a variety of backgrounds and professions. This book can aid medical professionals in their consideration of touch and both its therapeutic and detrimental effects.



Nicole South, Senior Lecturer, Canterbury Christ Church University

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