What is professional cuddling therapy?
What is it NOT? And what are the benefits for survivors of abuse?
Prior to 2020, the experience of therapeutic touch was pretty straight forward.
- clients submitted a state issued ID so a copy could be kept in the therapist’s files
- cuddler and client discussed beforehand what the goals of the session would be
- the session began with conversation about how things would go
- clear communication followed
- the cuddle therapist guided the client in and out of cuddle positions at a rate pleasant to the client
- there may have been talking, silence, music, or a combination of all three
- the cuddle therapist never gave advise but listened attentively and reflectively
- the client left the session feeling seen, heard, accepted, relaxed, and at ease
Clients sought the services of professional cuddlers to
- lessen the symptoms of depression, PTSD, and anxiety
- decrease stress and lower compulsive cravings
- improve immune system function
- increase pain threshold and faster recovery times from illness and injury
- increase pain relief and better sleep
- lower blood pressure and heart rate
- improve self-esteem and decrease social anxiety
- increase social skills and increase relaxation
The same benefits of professional cuddle therapy are still in effect today but the delivery may be a bit different in 2020.
Professional Cuddling Can Be In Person or Virtual
In-Person Professional Cuddle Therapy
Professional cuddle therapy began as an in-person practice. Clients reached out to a local practitioner who was recommended by a friend or found during an online search.
After completing the initial paperwork, satisfying the payment requirement, and participating in the intake call, a client would meet the practitioner in the designated spot.
- at the cuddler’s home
- in the client’s home
- at a cuddling studio
- in an agreed upon public place
The cuddle therapy session that followed would include conversation, cuddling, and work toward specific healing goals. The sessions lasted anywhere from 60 minutes to 9 hours, depending on the agreement made prior to the start of the appointment.
That process ground to a halt when public reaction to COVID-19 shut down in-person anything all across the globe.
Clients all over the world had to discontinue participation in professional cuddle therapy.
Virtual Connection Sessions
Professional cuddlers met (virtually) and discussed how best to serve their clients when in-person sessions were no longer an option for an underdetermined amount of time.
Clients called and emailed and asked how they could still receive professional cuddling services, feeling more in need of connection than ever before.
Professionals and clients embarked on a new and uncharted course: virtual connection sessions.
After following the same first steps of the in-person session (paperwork, payment, and intake call), the cuddle therapist and the client met . . . virtually.
Virtual sessions are conducted using laptops, tablets, or cell phones. Lasting anywhere from 60 minutes to a few hours, they include conversation, meditation, mirroring and breathing exercises, and other techniques agreed upon between cuddler and client (such as steeping tea together or popping corn and sharing a watch party experience through a movie streaming service).
Post-Initial Pandemic Reaction
Today, depending on where a client lives and the health risks associated with person to person contact, a professional cuddle therapy session can occur in-person or virtually.
Clients can connect with a safe person, learn boundary setting, experience acceptance, get a healthy dose of oxytocin bliss, and practice platonic touch during either in-person or virtual session, or both.
Professional Cuddling Therapists Are As Varied As Their Clients
No session is identical to another. No cuddler is the same as another. And every client is different.
Why do abuse survivors seek out professional cuddling therapy? And how exactly does the professional cuddler help?
The following are sample reasons why clients seek out the services of cuddle therapists. Included in the list is a small sample of the way a cuddle therapist can help.
(This is by no means an exhaustive list. Clients call on cuddle therapy to help in countless ways. And cuddlers have a multitude of methods for helping their clients. This is just a sample.)
A client who is scarred by physical abuse or physical assault
- wants to experience safe touch
- hopes to create more memories of healing touch than she currently has of harmful touch
The cuddle therapist will give very clear expectations of the session, may yield direction of the session to the client to increase her sense of empowerment, and will speak affirming words throughout the cuddle session.
A client who is lonely after mistreatment by family and the end of a long-term dating relationship
- wants to be heard and seen
- wants to be held without the touch leading to sex
The professional cuddler will listen with focused attention all throughout the session, may point out self-defeating words she hears the client using, will commend the client for taking the time to focus on caring for herself, and will offer cuddle positions that are especially nurturing.
A client who has been told by a mental health specialist that she needs to reintegrate her mind-body connection to aid in trauma resolution
- hopes to learn to be in the moment she is in without her mind roaming
- hurts so much emotionally that she finds it overwhelming to feel
The professional cuddle therapy sessions will include education in and practice with consent, may include times when the client is held like a baby and rocked. Space will be given for the client to cry. The therapist will use a soothing voice to speak comforting words and lead the client in breathing exercises.
A client who has a major decision to make
- needs to be heard without experiencing judgment or advise
- desires a witness as she speaks out loud to help her clarify and organize her thoughts
The cuddle therapist may encourage the use of essential oils to aid in clarity of thought. The client will not only share her words but also listen as the professional cuddler speaks back what she has heard the client say. There may be little or no touching, or the client might feel safer sharing while resting in her favorite cuddle position.
Professional Cuddling Is Non Sexual
Whether the session takes place online or in a physical space shared by cuddler and client, professional cuddling is purely platonic.
Sadly, due to the way touch is taught in the media and experienced through trauma, the idea of two adults meeting with the intent to touch immediately makes you think that the touch they give each other will end in sex.
Not only is the end goal NOT sex in a cuddle therapy session, it is never the intention of any of the touch that occurs during a session. Cuddle therapy is non-sexual, not romantic, non-erotic, purely platonic touch.
(If you are struggling to believe that, you would benefit from a cuddle session as soon as possible.)
- Allow a professional cuddle session to teach you that touch can be safe, nurturing, and healthy.
- Learn how important touch boundaries are and how to set and maintain those boundaries with other adults.
- Experience the curative nature of being held and caressed the way you ought to have been as a child.
There is nothing sexual about professional cuddling therapy.
Instead, it is a healing modality, a healthy practice, and a human honoring experience.
Make an appointment today. See just how beneficial cuddle therapy will be to your abuse recovery.