The Healing Effects of Touch Therapy

With the gradual close of a long dark winter, many of us are hoping to see the return of flowers, birds, green grass, and are anxiously anticipating picnics and other outdoor activities.  In Montana, we still have some time before those things fully arrive, but that doesn’t stop us from anticipating them. 

Even though this is a month where we might want to get outside, it is still cold and although the calendar says it is Spring, Montana doesn’t easily let go of Winter.  One of the things you can do for yourself any time of the year, is engage in touch therapy.  It is said that “the body remembers” and this is the foundation of many touch therapies within the psychotherapy field. 

Humans require touch to thrive.  While it is generally accepted that massage helps heal aching muscles, massage also releases endorphins, helps us detoxify, improves lymph and blood circulation, and even helps respiration.  So why does a psychotherapist care about this?  Well, regardless of how much I would like to imagine that we can just work with a brain without a body, or emotions without physical interference, the fact is that the brain and body are interactive.  So, when massage reduces lactic acid buildup, it also chemically reduces anxiety.  And it is easy to imagine that if pain is reduced, mood is affected.

Touch Therapy.png

There are many types of touch therapy.  Massage is one, but there are many types of massage as well.  There is Acupuncture, Acupressure, Cranial Sacral, Cranial Electrical Stimulation, Reflexology, and others.  Each of these have different modalities, teachings, and histories and practitioners will engage in different training to become proficient.  We can engage in these forms of therapy in a myriad of ways from asking our significant other for a back rub or foot massage, to researching professional practitioners and making regular appointments for treatment.  It can even be as simple as a hug or holding hands.  But if you have been waiting for permission to indulge, you have permission now.  Give yourself a foot or hand massage, give one to someone special, or head to the professional of your choice for acupuncture therapy, reflexology, or a massage, and do something nice for yourself while improving your physical and mental health this month.