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#7460 - 04/19/03 08:46 PM Compassionate Touch
MrDon Offline

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
A book I just rec'd called Compassionate Touch by Dr Clyde W. Ford is one that I am reading for use in my term paper for school on Survivors and Touch/Massage Therapy. It is a very good book from what I have read so far. I'm not sure if it is in the bookstore section of male survivor or not, but it has some very good information.

This book gets pretty close to how I see myself using massage as I get into this field and as I continue my education for a master's degree. Plus it is something that registers with me because I struggle through so many of the issues it deals with. Believe me coming from paralysis several years ago, touch is not easy for me (getting better though). So this is a personal endeavor of healing and struggle as well as a term paper.

I've recorded several things as I have been reading this book so I can reference for my paper later on. I've included this and while it may be hard to get the full context of the quoted material, it will give you a sense of what this book is about. Of course to get a more clear picture, you would need to read the book as well. Anyway here are my highlited sections from the book so far. I will add to this post as I continue to read the book.

Title: Compassionate Touch
Author: Dr Clyde W Ford
Published: North Atlantic Books, (C) 1993,1999

(Pg 9) The body doesn’t lie. If a muscle is tight it’s tight. An underlying premise of Compassionate Touch is that we can work with the physical truth of the body to resolve any related emotional truths, regardless of the source or nature of those emotional truths. Simply stated, when working through the body we do not really need to know the source of trauma in order to help the client heal.

(Pg 11) Here is where compassionate work with the body takes on even greater significance, because the body-based methods of addressing psychological and emotional issues I’ve described throughout this book bypass the problem of encountering false memories in clients.

(Pg11) All that matters is the client’s awareness of the sensation, and the therapist’s ability to work with that awareness using the methods of Compassionate Touch.

(Pg 11-12) My standard response in such a case is to lovingly but clearly let these clients know that I am not Sherlock Holmes and do not feel that conducting such an investigation necessarily brings about much good. Often, searching the past for culprits wastes precious healing time. Instead I remind these clients what the goal of my body-oriented approach to emotional healing is: using awareness, touch, and movement to help them perceive, feel, and move their body in an unfettered way. I also emphasize that in pursuing this goal, spontaneous memories will often arise and these are gifts we can cherish in the process of healing.

(Pg 12) I end by asking them to always keep in mind the distinction between memory and sensation: memory focuses on the past, sensation focuses on the present. We can never go back and erase what has happened to us in the past, but we can actively work on healing the effects of the past as they manifest in our lives right now.

(Pg 15) Many survivors of abuse report similar feelings of numbness or vacancy.

(Pg 17) One message of abuse is that normal boundaries of body and mind are not sacred. They can be violated at will. The world is no longer a safe place. Physical and psychological growth are often arrested. The child within is frozen by this trauma. Working with the body is a way to help this inner child grow and heal.

(Pg 17) Survivors often feel the consequences of their abuse. These feelings are not abstract concepts, they are experienced through the body. Likewise, healing from abuse must also occur at this feeling level of the body.

(Pg 17) I have come to respect the tremendous wisdom and compassion that reside within our body – useful and powerful tools for healing and recovery. The body is a road map for the journey of healing and recovery. It can tell us where we have been, where we are, where we need to go, and how best to get there.

(Pg 17-18) When I began my career I often saw people with chronic physical problems.

(Pg 18) But on many occasions those who failed to respond to my care told me of other sensations from being touched. They would report strange alterations in perception:
“It felt as if time stood still”
”this hour long visit lasted only 20 minutes”
“I knew exactly where you were about to touch me before I felt it there”
“The dividing line between your hand my skin became blurred”
“I wasn’t asleep but I didn’t feel awake either”
“I felt as if I was floating, hovering above the table watching everything take place”

(Pg 18) Often, emotions simply surfaced during touch.

(Pg 19) After all touch is the language of the body.

(Pg 19) Our bodies can be our greatest ally or toughest adversary in the process of healing and recovery.

(Pg 19) Sexual abuse frequently begins before a child has the mental and muscular skills needed to speak. At this age we primarily relate to the world through our bodies – touch is the principal mode of communication, talk is secondary. A child’s reaction to abuse at this age has a definite bodily component. Unable to defend itself verbally or physically, the child’s body absorbs the physical and emotional insult of abuse.

(Pg 20) Touch and movement – the body’s native language – can be powerful therapeutic tools in recovery and healing.

(Pg 20) Touch, like talk, can be a therapeutic language. Body therapists do not have to become psychotherapists to help people with emotions expressed through the body. But body therapists and psychotherapists do need to understand the importance of the body in working with emotional and psychological experience.

(Pg 21) Mind-body healing is just what it says: the mind’s role in healing the body.

(Pg 21) Instead of asking how a particular thought, feeling, or image affects the body we’ll explore how a particular body sensation helps us understand a deeper emotional or psychological issue. Instead of considering anger or grief abstractly, for example, we’ll investigate our body awareness of these emotions. Instead of talking about the creation of boundaries, we’ll embody the creation of boundaries through touch and movement. The idea behind this type of work is straightforward: To heal and recover we need to ground emotional experience in the body, and we need to unearth the emotional and psychological issues unearth physical sensation. IN either case the body is the focus of the therapeutic work.

(Pg 22) We each use different sensory channels to process our life’s experiences.

(Pg 22) If we deal with emotions through talk, then language becomes a limitation. It becomes essential that everyone we talk to speaks the same language with all the subtleties, nuances, and idioms commonly understood. Touch and movement, on the other hand, are more universal.

(Pg 22) Dealing with emotions through mental images is also limiting.

(Pg 23) Simply being aware of the physical manifestations of emotional experience is sometimes enough to change the quality of that experience.

(Pg 24) I will often use the term somatoemotional therapy to describe this integrated approach to physical and emotional healing.

(Pg 25) In somatoemotional therapy we use the body as a doorway to our feelings.

(Pg 25) Somatosynthesis is not just for survivors of abuse. It can play a role in healing and recovery for us all. None of us came through childhood unscathed. Most of us have some wounds and scars from growing up in dysfunctional families.

(Pg 25) Our earliest emotional experiences, both good and bad, occurred first through our bodies. Only later did we process emotions mentally. What we learned through our bodies, as children became the foundation of our emotional life beyond childhood.

(Pg 26) Similar distance is maintained between therapists and clients in traditional psychotherapy where there has long been a touch taboo. It is believed that touch enhances feelings of sexual attraction between therapist and client, thereby derailing successful therapy. This belief is voiced even more loudly with abuse survivors in therapy. Here the notion is that touch reenacts the original abusive trauma and this damages the course of successful therapy. There is a measure of truth in all this, although I feel that excluding the body and touch from therapy is wrong.

(Pg 26) A major tragedy of sexual and physical abuse is that it strips away the body’s boundaries. Touching an abuse survivor might seem to reinforce this lack of boundaries and the powerlessness resulting from the original trauma. But boundaries are created through interaction, not isolation.

(Pg 27) The issue is how to work with emotions through touch, rather than avoiding touch because it elicits emotions. One fascinating aspect of human touch is that it is our only reciprocal sense. You can see without being seen, hear without being heard, taste without being tasted, and smell without being smelled. But you cannot touch without being touched.

(Pg 28) Is a hug good for everyone? When least expected, a hug can be the most healing gesture in the world. At other times I can be the worst thing possible for those with a history of being touched when they least expect or desire it. Skillfully using touch means knowing when to touch and when not to touch as well.

(Pg 28) We do not always need to touch to work with the body. Movement and body-awareness are two other important methods of bringing the body into healing and recovery.

(Pg 29) We needn’t be afraid when traumatic emotional issues are raised through touch. We simply need to learn what to do when they surface.

(Pg 33) Emotional experience is built upon the awareness of changes taking place in our body. Figure 1.2 is a schematic representation of how this occurs. Bodily events are all the changes taking place at the onset of an emotional experience – neurological changes, muscular changes, circulatory changes, and biochemical changes. Individual events may happen beneath our threshold of awareness, but together these events mount until we can feel change within our bodies. One way of describing our feelings then is our awareness of bodily change. Over time each of us accumulates a backlog of life experiences associated with our awareness of particular feelings, and this forms our unique emotional nature. It is impossible to separate body and emotions.

(Pg 33) Although we normally think our mind stores and recalls emotional experience, our body may have a more important role in this process.

(Pg 34) Our bodies are both a source of and storage site for our emotions.

(Pg 34) The body can store and recreate emotional trauma in much the same way the mind can store and recreate physical trauma.

In order to journey to new worlds, we must first be willing to lose site of the shore.

The Mind Body Thoughts Blog

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#7461 - 04/21/03 02:13 AM Re: Compassionate Touch
Wuamei Offline

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...

I saw a fellow male survivor with a copy of that book the other day. Sounds like really good stuff.
Kind of a practical "hands-on" therapeutic side of an excellent book I'm now reading called "The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease" by Dr. Robert C. Scaer (see post in books on "Things that go bump in the day").

Having recently been much helped by an excellent massage therapist & a chiropractor, I can affirm what Dr. Ford is sharing. My chronic pain is largely body memories of abuse, and therapeutic touch is working wonders for it.


"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck


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