Is it ok to hug my therapist (we are both the same sex, both heterosexual) before session, after session, and side hugs on a couch sitting next to each other. I get only feelings of safety, no sexual feelings and leave the session feeling better. I must say I have deep issues with abuse in the past, deep borderline issues, aspergers, big anxiety issues, depression and so on. It's ok with me, is it ok with the medical community?
I have been diagnosed with bpd and have invested in a couple of clinical texts over the years to try and help me learn more about the disorder and myself.
Nowhere in any book have I seen anything about hug therapy or hugging as a therapeutic strategy.
I'm a bit confused by this behavior because on an emotional level I get it's significance to you. Rationally I clearly think that boundaries are being violated.
Personally I feel it is excessive and not OK. But then I'm the opposite and I choose to sit as far away from people and as close to the door as possible.
I'm surprised you haven't seen anywhere the therapy tool of hug therapy. It is all over the net and in several books I've seen. It is controversial when two people of the opposite sex do it because of the sexual abuse/inuendo, so it is rare for a male/female to hug. In DBT, or dialectical behavioral therapy it is much discussed. Hugging provides comfort, and transference so the borderline individual can feel the mommy figure she never had. That's in my case. It helps take away some of the depression(not enough entirely yet) while I learn to trust people, feel comforted for awhile and with no sexual feelings. It took a long while to feel comfortable for us to do this but I am beginning to understand "self", live with less self-hatred, and share difficult issues with her. I merely wanted to know if it was being overdone and what the medical community thought about it. I was diagnosed with bpd 5 years ago and am slowly feeling better. it's a long process to go through a lifetime of different abuses but my friends see progress.No one is the same even though we both have bpd. Jacuta, what part of the country do you live in?
Hi. I've had some trouble accessing medhelp and posting so I'm not sure if this will work. I posted this morning in response to your last post.
I did revisit my Marsha Linehan text which did talk about physical touch as being a stylistic strategy. I also copied out some dbt rules that she listed. In her book, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, under the heading Warm Engagement and Touch in psychotherapy, these are the rules.
1. Physical touch should be careful.
2. Physical touch should be brief.
3. Physical touch should express an existing therapeutic relationship.
4. Physical touch should be sensitive to the patient's wishes and comfort.
5. Physical touch should be within a therapist's own personal limits.
6. It should go without saying that sexual touch is never acceptable.
7. When inappropriate touch or a sexual overture is initiated by the patient, the therapist should "talk it to death."
8. Physical touch should be potentially public.
Other comments made:
-A problem with borderline patients is that it is easy to go overboard -to be too warm and too engaged.
-When it is responsive to an individual's need or request, however, touch can be healing in any interpersonal relationship, including the therapeutic relationship.
-When it is appropriate, it seems unreasonable to deny the request or push the patient away for arbitrary reasons. A good-bye hug can be particularly soothing for some borderline patients. The value of touch in these instances, at least with some patients, should not be underestimated.
That info is all in her book.
I have spoken to some people who believe they have bpd due to being born prematurely and lacking that physical contact.
Experiments have been conducted on monkeys regarding attachment styles.
The whole hugging stuff and justification for it seems a bit strange to me. I expect there are some therapists who would consider it entirely inappropriate. While others obviously perceive it is acceptable.
Personally, I would say it is excessive. I would also think that the medical community would be divided.
I guess what is most important is doing what works for you. If hugging provides a corrective emotional experience then it can't be all bad, can it?
It will be interesting to read the doctor's comments. Thanks for asking the question.
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