Teaching Touch: A phenomenological study of how touch is addressed in clinical supervision

Title: Teaching Touch: A phenomenological study of how touch is addressed in clinical supervision
Authors: Kosierb, Samantha
Date: 2017-05-03
Abstract: The literature suggests that touch between a therapist and client is a relatively frequent occurrence. Touch, however, entails important ethical and legal implications. As such it is surprising to conclude that little to no training on the safe and effective use of touch is provided in counselor training programs (Strozier, Krizek, & Sale, 2003). Indeed, one study with social workers found that 82% of those that used touch with therapeutic intent indicated that they did not receive adequate training on how to use touch and often based their decisions on instinct, or unspoken cues from clients (Strozier, Krizek, & Sale, 2003). Furthermore, faculty members have reported being unclear, themselves, about the use of touch and consequently have reported anxiety about addressing this topic with their own students (Burkholder, Toth, Feisthamel, & Britton, 2010). Without clear guidelines and training, professionals who practice and those who teach are left without solid knowledge to inform their touch interventions, leaving them vulnerable to making mistakes and ultimately being at risk of harming their clients (Stenzel &Rupert, 2004). It is therefore important that we begin to look more closely at how touch is taught to begin to establish a knowledge base area that will help guide practice and ultimately to ensure safe and effective use of touch. While research suggests touch is a topic often left out of formal training, little is known regarding how touch is addressed in other training contexts such as supervision. Some studies have begun to explore the ethical issues surrounding touch and the implications for teaching and the practice of supervision (Bilodeau, in press; Hunter & Struve, 1995; Robinson, 2006). However, there is no research exploring the supervisor`s own reported experiences regarding touch in a supervisory context. This phenomenological study aimed to explore the experiences of supervisors regarding the issue of touch in the context of supervision. Specifically, we were interested in understanding whether or not touch was addressed in the context of supervision and how the supervisors made sense of their experiences. Four themes emerged from this research that can aide in the understanding of how touch can be taught in supervision. The first theme formed from the results was how supervisors viewed the use of touch in therapy. The second and third theme discussed the roles of the supervisee and supervisor when addressing the use of touch in supervision. The fourth and final theme discussed how the supervisors processed the use of touch in supervision.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/36029
CollectionThèses Saint-Paul // Saint Paul Theses