A New Approach to Sexual Harassment TrainingBy: Adam Lippin and Kassandra Brown
Many companies offer sexual harassment training but there’s limited research to show that the training is working regardless of the industry. In fact, some trainings have been shown to have negative consequences. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that as many as 75% women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, but three out of four cases go unreported. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see how the #MeToo campaign has picked up steam so quickly and so widespread that the EEOC is recommending Consent and Respect Based Communication Skills Training over trainings that focus on legal compliance and company procedures. To quote the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace “Workplace "civility training" that does not focus on eliminating unwelcome or offensive behavior ..., but rather on promoting respect and civility in the workplace ... may offer solutions.” In other words, teaching people specific skills for respect and communication works better than educating them about company policies and legal pitfalls to reduce harassment. At Cuddlist, we believe that consent, communication, and intention must be the focal points of effective trainings. Consent-based and respect-based interventions are actionable, practical, and verifiable. They are skills that can be learned which not only reduce or eliminate harassment but also increase the effectiveness of each employee and team. Wouldn’t you like the time and money you invest in trainings to be effective, not only at reducing harassment but also at increasing performance? Here are two problems and two solutions to help you do just that. Two Problems and Two solutions: Problem 1: Men are feared as creeps. Most men do not want to be creeps yet they don't always know if they are crossing a line or not. Men receive conflicting messages about what it means to be strong and effective that don’t agree with messages about how to be nice and considerate. It can be really confusing. Solution 1: Applying consent and respect-based communication can help you be both assertive and sensitive. Asking for what you want - rather than demanding, bribing, or threatening - is a key skill in respect based communication. It puts you in a powerful position. Unfortunately, without training and practice in using this skill, most people think asking is weak. Clearing up that misconception is part of an effective training. Problem 2: I could get fired and not even know I was doing anything wrong. This “no tolerance” environment can be scary. A new normal is emerging as the #MeToo movement gains momentum and what might have been tolerated before is now being called out and prosecuted. It might feel like the ground has shifted underneath you and indeed times are changing. How can you position yourself to be a competent leader and coworker? Solution 2: Learn how to communicate clearly, confidently, and with emotional intelligence. The wonderful thing about learning these skills is that it puts you on the right side of the #MeToo movement without pitting you against anyone else. Stating clear, confident requests and boundaries are ways of communicating that empower everyone rather than blaming victims or harassers. A new paradigm is emerging and you can help shape it. Do you need a plan of action at your business to implement effective trainings? Cuddlist can help:
- A) Attend a Cuddle Party, which is essentially a workshop on consent using touch and our voices as the vehicle. www.cuddleparty.com
- B) Have a session with a Certified Cuddlist Practitioner—learn how to practice asking for what you want, setting boundaries, and respecting the answers. Find Cuddlists in your area.
- C) Host us for an actionable workshop that allows your employees to learn the valuable skills of consent, communication, respect, and effectiveness.
Cuddlist and Veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts: Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans. As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans. 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan.
Emotional BenefitsPromotes calmness, connection, and self-esteem. Builds friendship, intimacy, stability, trust, and acceptance. Validates their humanity in a professional setting.
Scientific StudiesProven to reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels that produce stress, anxiety, and depression. Increases oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine which enhance well being and relaxation. Engages the immune system to prompt the bodies response to negative emotions and pain. Enhances mental outlook and cognition.
Trusted Touch ProtocolsStandardized Procedure that allows access to healing touch in a controlled environment. Guided secure structures which include hand holding, sitting and standing hugs, gentle caresses on arms, shoulders, back, lightly stroking head and hair, and other trusted touch to uniquely support the client session.
Cuddlist Is The Safest ChoiceCuddlist has been training the highest caliber of touch practitioners for over 2 years. Developed by a team of leading experts in collaboration with doctors.
Cuddlist and the Elderly
October 2017In a study performed by Dr. Holt-Lunstad, controlling for a multitude of possible confounding variables, social isolation, loneliness, and living alone was linked to an average 29%, 26%, and 32% increase in the likelihood of mortality respectively. The conclusions of this study are concerning and yet are supported by research and are considered well-established facts. Loneliness is the number one killer and cause for depression among the elderly.
For most seniors this a challenging time. Physical and psychological changes and challenges breed depression and anxiety. Compounded often by loneliness and social isolation. The fact is most seniors need more than medicine and in home assistance. The need real contact from another caring committed human being.
Trusted Touch protocols provide trained and certified practitioners that can unlock the stress that is built into,our biologists as we age. Through a safe and consent based process the transformative power of touch reduces the level of stress promoting hormones such as cortisol. Instead there is a release of the hormones that promote well being, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
All seniors contend with the physical limitation of aging, complicated by chronic conditions and lack of companionship or access to family. The value of human interaction with compassionate committed practitioners that remind their clients how much they matter cannot be overstated
Medical researchers have confirmed that touch and physical interaction with caregivers is a decisive factor in seniors ability to recover and to maintain a higher level of well being.
cuddlist.com is committed to promoting research and development in this field by actively supporting clinical testing and putting our Trusted Touch protocols to work in environments where seniors live and convalesce.
Touch and Wellness; A Doctor’s Perspective
Doctors and scientists continue to explore all the multi faceted ways that healthy touch is critical to our well being.
Cuddlist’s Trusted Touch Protocols are beginning to be recognized as important components in the Healthcare field and have been described as the “Missing Link” in the wellness world. Listen to Dr. Daniel Yadegar, our Scientific Medical Advisor, from a recent interview:
“ ...I am extremely interested in the the relationship of the world around us and the power to affect our inner biology. Whether we are talking about exercise... how nutrition and food affects us...and then the area of cuddling; human non sexual touch and what that does for us all the down to the molecular level.....we know that from research studies that cuddling is extremely good for the immune system, it decreases stress hormones....like cortisol which has a lot of deleterious effects on the body. there is very very solid evidence that cortisol can actually shrink the part of the brain that’s responsible for memory...the hippocampus.”
As Dr. Yadegar continues to explain in the full interview, Cuddling stimulates the increase in hormones that have the opposite effect of cortisol. Hormones like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin reduce stress and anxiety and promote a state of well being.
The applications for touch therapy are many. So many people who are suffering from chronic conditions, are recovering from illness and trauma, and are dealing with all the psychological effects of modern life can find benefit. Dr. Yadegar sees very specific opportunities for applying touch therapies for conditions that a great number of us deal with everyday.
“There are also implications as it relates to chronic pain for a lot of patients, whether cancer patients....those who suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic pain, can and will benefit from the effects of cuddling as it releases feel good hormones and probably work on the level of pain receptors....the benefits run the gamut from improved immune health to patients with depression and anxiety and chronic pain.”
We will be a part of this process of discovery and innovation working across professional and institutional boundaries. This involves developing tests and research studies with partners who share our interest in these groups. Today we are involved with pain management and post traumatic stress research. Our goal is to be a part of the long term solution by combining our expertise and dedication with the treatment plans being developed by Doctors, clinics and other professionals. We will keep you informed as to our progress.
Disability and the Cuddlist
Nurturing touch helps us feel connected to the human experience - a connection many people with disabilities have lacked throughout their lives. Steve has spina bifida - a defect in the growth of the spinal column at birth - causing him to experience functional and sensational difficulties. Before finding his Cuddlist, Ilya, he rarely experienced any touch apart from the transactional touch that occurs between a patient and doctor. Similar to many other people with disabilities, the people in Steve’s life tend to be touch-avoidant, depriving him of vital nurturing touch. Ilya’s sessions with Steve involve addressing his touch needs by practicing safe and caring touch. Their sessions are emotionally healing because they are a space where Steve is able to voice his touch needs. It takes bravery to be vulnerable but, as a Cuddlist, it is Ilya’s job to create the space for her client to be brave and then meet his needs in a way that other people in his life cannot.
“For me touch can be as important as air or food. Touch is pretty much what I need most and what hasn’t been in my life the most.” -Steve, Cuddlist client
Social isolation is a universal problem. We all have a need for connection and the pain we feel when we are deprived of this connection is real. People with disabilities compared to people without are much more likely to be socially ostracized for looking or acting differently; people with disabilities are often excluded from relationships, both platonic and sexual, and feel like they don’t fit into social norms. This isolation can compound into feeling worse about a person’s self image and worsening mental health. In a study for Social Psychiatry John Collette found that “Physical limitation, dependency and social isolation were all found to be associated with poor mental health.” As Cuddlist we intend to provide a safe, communicative and respectable space for people with disability by providing a destigmatized environment for self expression.
“Steven’s story is incredibly touching and tugs at my heart strings. It just goes to show that many people,especially those with chronic illness, are often touch deprived----whether it’s because of stigma, physical deformities, “looking different”--- of this fundamental and unmet human need. In fact, the deprivation of touch and intimacy can actually be more difficult than the challenges of the disease condition itself. This is observation is both powerful and poignant, as it highlights how “simple” yet inaccessible the remedy has been. Often bereft and isolated, patients with chronic medical conditions, like Steve who has Spina Bifida, can derive tremendous health and psychological benefits by establishing human connection through touch.” -Dr. Dan Yadegar
Cuddlist sets itself apart as an opportunity for people to explore what it means to set boundaries and listen to needs in order to create a consensual experience of bonding and growth through touch. People with disabilities often have damaged self-image and find it hard to be comfortable due to times in life meant for discovery and evolution being replaced by stress and medical tests (Coleridge, 1993). The Cuddlist experience creates a space where people with disabilities can decide what they want. By breaking the mold of an objectifying and broken system we hope to give much needed touch to people who usually do not have access to such a basic need. Another problem for many people with disabilities is a lack of opportunity to express their emotional issues. (Morris, 1989; Swain 2001). At Cuddlist we value all of our clients as holistic human beings and realize problems physically or mentally does not mean you are broken. We understand that being disabled is never easy and we intend to provide people with a safe space where they can truly embrace themselves for who they are rather than defining them by their disability.
Coleridge, P. (2001). Disability, liberation, and development. Oxford: Oxfam.
Ludwig, E., & Collette, J. (1970). Dependency, social isolation and mental health in a disabled population.
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00594719?LI=true.
French, S., & Swain, J. (n.d.). The Relationship between Disabled People and Health and Welfare Professionals.
Handbook of Disability Studies. http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/hdbk_disability/n33.xml
Cuddling Our Way Towards Wellness
“We’re wired to be gregarious, bonded creatures. So the more tactile sensation there is in our world, the better we feel.”
-Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, Santa Rosa, California
We all understand that certain acts of human touch create deep and often profound feelings. As infants we crave the embrace of our parents, in fact all throughout our lives physical connections bring powerful emotions that transcend the words we have to describe them.
Cuddling as a practice taps into the very real biological acuity that humans possess. There is no ambiguity about how that happens either. This “somatosensory” aspect of our bodies produces chemicals such as oxytocin and these produce a physical sensation of well being. This, in turn, creates mental and emotional well being.
The approach we have developed is based on years of experience in working with mind/body practices put into the hands of very dedicated people that bring elements of focus and individual intention to this work.
The result is a unique space/place where a practitioner and client work together to create those powerful, nurturing and healing feelings. This is what The Cuddlist does... guides a client back to the place where the body becomes a full partner in promoting greater wellness, strength, serenity and resolve.
It is not surprising when we remember how much we have drawn from these connections in times of crisis or celebration. Our reactions are not accidents, they are the faculties we have inherited as part of our humanity and their purpose is to help us respond to the warnings emanating from our bodies and to address our negative emotional conditions.
The other names we use for ”negative emotional conditions” are anxiety, loneliness, depression, and low-self esteem or self criticism. They often follow periods of isolation, grief or in the wake of relationships that fail or expectations that we fail to achieve. Over time these protective responses to stress and dysfunction become in fact the “who we are”. None of this is true, of course, it is simply what we innocently come to believe about ourselves and thereby become stuck in.
These are not timid emotions. To address them The Cuddlist brings the full powers of concentrated awareness and intention. Most of our experiences with the healing power of touch occur spontaneously or instinctively.
The Cuddlist knows however that the practice demands bringing ALL their techniques awareness of our inherent well- being to bear on the present moment when working with a client. The goal technique is to introduce a set of rules and boundaries that empower the client, enlisting their full consent and partnership in the session as it proceeds. The Cuddlist and the client set out on a path towards re-awakening these faculties, to give and receive through the process of touch. To experience our “wellness” with one another. It is simple. It can be profound.
Now The Cuddlist understands that the nature of this practice leads to questions about sexuality. This is branch of human touch that serves a totally different function. Cuddling heads down a unique path that nds expression in the transfer of respect, encouragement and full engagement of our bodies as a source of healing. The Cuddlist knows how to steer keep encounters focused in the direction on the intention of emotional connectivity by not letting not arousal become a distraction or take focus.
From here very different things start to happen. The client is given the validation and respect that is often lacking in their daily lives. The Cuddlist demonstrates that the highest priority of the encounter is to project the strength, support and love we remember from our deepest familial ties and friendships. These are the feelings we were sent out into the world with which to encourage us, protect us, inspire us.
Wellness follows in many directions from these starting places. The science is there, but so too is our deepest sense of memory. Consciously or unconsciously we recall how important our critical connections are and will forever be in helping us arrive at our best.
As we examine our boundaries through this process of consent we learn to trust, and to value our prerogative. We count matter!... and are worthy of this sharing process. We also begin to see ourselves as worthy of the health and wellness we are entitled to and willing to work to achieve it. This is us putting self care into action for ourselves. We are the only ones who can do it, but we achieve this willingness through an encounter with someone who helps us remember what we lost touch with — literally!
We become more compliant in monitoring our overall health, dealing with our issues and relating to the world around us. People become assets not liabilities to be avoided. Intimacy is to be sought after welcomed and allowed not grasped at or pushed away.
But the most basic and critical aspect of what The Cuddlist does is to bring all of their training, skills, self awareness, energy and intention to bear on the client at that key moment of the encounter. This is the when the system responds and produces the physical response that drives towards enhanced wellness.
This wellness that the client experiences in real time, fully present during the session with The Cuddlist, can stay with us. We understand that we can achieve greater well being, more fulfilling lives when we open ourselves to a little risk, and accept the need we all instinctively share, the need to connect.
By Adam Lippin, CEO and Co-Founder of Cuddlist, and Madelon Guinazzo, Director of Training and Co-Founder of Cuddlist.
Additional Studies with Citations
Holt-Lunstad, Julianne; Birmingham, Wendy A.; Light, Kathleen C. Influence of a “Warm Touch” Support Enhancement Intervention Among Married Couples on Ambulatory Blood Pressure, Oxytocin, Alpha Amylase, and Cortisol. Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 70(9). (November/December 2008): pp 976-985. http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/abstract/2008/11000/influence_of_a__warm_touch__support_ enhancement.4.aspx
Pattison, Joyce E. Effects of touch on self-exploration and the therapeutic relationship. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 40(2). (Apr 1973): 170-175. http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ccp/40/2/170/
Kertay, Les; Reviere, Susan L. The use of touch in psychotherapy: Theoretical and ethical considerations. Psychotherapy: Theory,Research,Practice,Training. Vol 30(1), (1993): 32-40. http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/pst/30/1/32/