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Touch in Psychotherapy II:
Advanced Standard of Care, Ethical and Clinical Explorations

6 CE Credit Hours - Online Course - $60.00

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Course fulfills the California and other states' ethics and law requirements. Course may qualify for insurance discount. Check with your insurer.

This course is also offered as part of a Somatics & Touch Certificate Program of 22 CE Credit Hours.

Course materials: text/webpage Articles

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General Course Description

This is an advanced course on touch in psychotherapy and counseling which sheds light on what the standard of care in psychotherapy and counseling is and clarifies how clinically and ethically appropriate touch falls within the standard of care. It briefly reviews the importance of touch for human development and healing practices and describes the ethical application of touch in psychotherapy as adjunct to verbal psychotherapy. It looks critically at the prohibition of touch in therapy and examines its historical, professional and cultural roots. The course extensively covers different ethical aspects of therapeutic touch and provides a rare but thorough exploration of the meaning of touch in psychoanalysis and the role of touch in the therapeutic relationship.

The course includes four extensive, ground-breaking articles by first, Ofer Zur, Ph.D., on touch and the standard of care; second, by Courtenay Young, ex-President of the European Association for Body-Psychotherapy (EABP) and an authority on the topic of the ethics and clinical aspects of therapeutic touch; third, a refreshing and unique look at the meanings of touch in psychoanalysis by Dr. James Fosshage; and fourth, a cutting edge article by Aline LaPierre, "Neuroaffective Touch and the Relational Matrix," with an introduction by Dr. Allan Schore. Finally, the course provides an ethical decision-making process and a summary of California law in regard to touch in therapy. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Disclaimer: This course is purely educational and does not intend to serve as a license (or permission) to mental health professionals to prescribe or practice any of the approaches discussed in this course unless they fall within the scope of practice of your profession. Check with your licensing board about the scope of practice of your profession to make sure you practice within that scope. It also does not serve as a permission to title yourself in any specific way.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach the participant to:

1.    Review the application of touch in psychotherapy and counseling.

2.    Clarify what the standard of care in psychotherapy and counseling is and how touch fits within the standard.

3.    Review the ethics of touch in therapy.

4.    Discuss the application and meaning of touch in psychoanalytic practice.

5.    Utilize ethical decision-making regarding touch in psychotherapy.

6.    Review professional organizations' codes of ethics on touch.

7.    Review the risk management concerns with touch in psychotherapy.

8.    Review the California laws and regulations and updates that are relevant to touch in psychotherapy.

Course Syllabus

Touch and the Standard of Care:

  • Forces and Influences in the Battle of Touch
  • Therapeutic Boundaries and Touch in Therapy
  • The Standard of Care: What It Is and What It Is Not
  • Touch in Psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic Touch and the Standard of Care
  • Risk Management, Slippery Slope & Sexualization of Touch
  • Risk-Benefit Analysis & Ethical Decision-Making
  • Touch in Context
  • Demonstrating Compliance with the Standard Of Care

The Ethics of Professional Touch:

  • Proper Boundaries

Overview of Clinical and Ethical Considerations:

  • Ethical Codes
  • Ethical Procedure
  • What is Touch: What? Where? Why? How? & When?
  • When to Touch and When Not to Touch
  • The Meaning of Touch
  • Consent, Autonomy and Touch
  • Inappropriate Touch
  • Therapist Abuse and Attraction
  • Supervision & Training

The Meanings of Touch in Psychoanalysis:

  • Historical and Theoretical Basis for the Prohibition of Touch
  • A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective
  • Research on Physical Touch
  • Reports of Touch in Psychoanalysis
  • Psychotherapy Research on Touch
  • Touch and Clinical Analytic Work

Codes of Ethics on Touch

California Law on Touch


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