Healthy Touch

Resilient children grow into caring & compassionate adults softening hearts of stone.

This past May, I attended the Annual Roots of Empathy Symposium here in Toronto sponsored by Mary Gordon and her team of dedicated staff and volunteers https://rootsofempathy.org/2019symposium/. Mary’s work has a strong hold in most schools in the Greater Toronto Area, surrounding regions, and across Canada. She also has research affiliates in Ireland and the USA. Her work, career, and extraordinary dedication to children and early prevention strategies is inspiring. Having started a clinical social work career in early years services, I was very fortunate to learn theoretical and practical approaches to parenting that really work to grow healthy and resilient children over the long term. Dr. Clinton, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, division of Child Psychiatry reminded everyone about the essential nature of human touch and infant development.

Close to thirty years ago, the Hanen Approach was just beginning to reap the benefits of its piloted projects across this city. A unique blend of psychiatry, speech and language pathology, and social work, the Hanen Approach aimed to support healthy attachments between moms and babies. Research showed that a consistently caring and nurturing response style, eye contact, touching, and communication improved overall health and wellness in all children and adults, but especially in children with identified developmental delays in areas of speech, behaviour, and pretend & cooperative play http://integratedtreatmentservices.co.uk/our-approaches/speech-therapy-approaches/hanen-programme/.

Healthy human touch is essential and natural to human growth and emotional wellness. There are countless studies that reveal the negative impacts of significant caregiving relationships impoverished of human touch. People with histories of early trauma, emotional neglect, sexual, or physical abuse often develop problems with creating healthy boundaries in relation to personal body space. Some people may be overly vigilant and self-protective becoming touch adverse. Some people have loose boundaries standing too close to people waiting in line, rubbing a woman’s breast or a man’s bottom while standing or sitting next to them on public transit, or touching someone’s arm, baby-bump, or face without permission for example. There are social and cultural norms as well as professional training that shape how, when, why, and where people engage in human touch. The key here is speaking up honestly when you feel uncomfortable about someone’s unwanted touch.

More research is being explored about the prescribed use of touch therapy with patients suffering severe PTSD and other debilitating health conditions. It is imperative that clinicians feel comfortable with setting appropriate professional boundaries created with clients seeking counselling therapies from you. Clinical practice with children, adolescents, and adults do not require deliberate practices of human touch. There are other effective strategies such as voice tone, eye contact, and humour that help to reassure and co-regulate human emotion as people talk and/or process feelings about experiences or situations with you. Referring clients to therapeutic massage is suggested for people you assess would benefit from healthy human touching in a clinical milieu.

#wellness #healing #health #hugs #parenting

Visualization & Wellness

Visualization is an evidence-based strategy that works to reduce stress

Clinical Social Workers and Psychotherapists understand the importance of helping people to learn visualization strategies proven to reduce stress. Visualization techniques employ the imagination in the healing process. Breathing techniques are also highly valued strategies used to reduce the harmful impacts of stress, anxiety, and worry on the body. Breathing and visualization also help people sleep deeply and more soundly. Learning to relax is neither easy, nor quick. People often master relaxation techniques over several months and in most cases, over years of concentrated practice. There is ample evidence to support the use of visualization in elite athletic
programs and goal-oriented industries. The overall impacts on one’s sense of wellness is uncontestable when people sleep better, and engage in daily activities with more energy and calmness. There are several resources currently available that will help individuals learn the power of visualization techniques. It often merely takes the use of one practiced image such as clouds on a partially sunny day, or a warm beach for people to feel an immediate sense of relief. Many people practice visualization before presenting at a business meeting or professional interview. Do you feel confident about supporting your clients or patients to learn visualization techniques? What are your own experiences with breathing, visualization, or progressive relaxation techniques? When or how do you use your experiences with these strategies in counselling sessions, if at all? Have you reflected upon any ethical issues with your clinical or peer supervisors?

#wellness #stressmanagement #wellbeing #healthy #heal #breathing #visualization #progressiverelaxation

Healing Processes & Options

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

There are several forms of independent health practices in the Greater Toronto Area. Similar to other large cities across North America, people are interested in a variety of treatment options to heal. Over the past twenty-five years, the field of regulated independent health practices has grown. Individuals have direct access to a continuum of health services that are increasingly covered by employee assistance and personal health insurance benefit plans. Most survey data suggests that individuals prefer to direct personal healthcare for non-crisis or emergency-based health problems. People with persistent or episodic physical or mental health challenges report having a choice in a robust range of health modalities increases their sense of control over personal wellness. This empowering aspect of healing is critical to the getter better phenomenon. Having the option to see a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or osteopath for arthritic pain diagnosed by your primary family medical doctor for example, allows the patient, client, or person to self-direct their own options for treatment and healing. Many people are willing to pay out of pocket for regulated and alternative health care services due to this increased sense of wellbeing that derives from directing one’s own treatment plan under the care of credentialed experts. There is a strong network of professional colleges that regulate healthcare practice standards for each of these credentialed services. For those that are currently unregulated, efforts are being made to meet the eligibility criteria under the law in health depending on the area in which the service is provided. This regulatory function and the interface with insurance company coverage plans increases the level of trust and protection that individuals are receiving expert health care. Long gone are the days where people without the appropriate education, credentials, or supervised standards of practice are able to provide fraudulent services to the public without protection. When I entered the social services field in 1984, almost everyone was referring to themselves as a social worker. Today, the title is protected under the law and practices regulated, so that individuals engaged in services are also protected. Recently, the controlled act of psychotherapy was introduced to further protect the public from unregulated practices and the possible risks associated with treatments provided by uncredentialled practitioners. Do you have the education, experience, and membership in a regulatory college to claim your credentials? What are the ways you engage with your local professional associations to ensure that your treatment modalities and interventions are evidence-informed, modern, ethical, and effective? What more can you do to further ensure that members of the public are guaranteed access to a range of best possible health care options for their own healing?

#wellness #health #healthy #wellbeing #healthcare