Many of our practitioners are also educators, which gives them the opportunity to teach others about the boundaries we put on others and why consent is critical when it comes to a Cuddlist session. This has also given them the ability to make a difference in other people’s lives in the past.

Ella, one of our practitioners from New York, NY, has had experience with teaching for thirteen years which made her a perfect fit to be part of our team. She grew up in Brazil, where their people are naturally affectionate and close to each other, and believes in the healing power of touch.

In a phone interview, I talked to Ella about what persuaded her to join the Cuddlist team, her most memorable moments with a client, and many more information for potential clients to know about her. This is what she brought to the table.

What drew you to becoming a professional cuddler, specifically a Cuddlist?

“When I first heard that professional cuddling was a thing, my first thought was: I’d love to do that and I’d be really good at it”. But at the time I was fully immersed in my 13-year-long teaching career. After a particularly tough year teaching at a public school in Harlem, I decided I wanted to get involved with other less stressful and more fulfilling work after school. So I started cuddling part time, after school and on weekends. I found the work very fulfilling and joyful. I loved getting to know so many diverse people in a very intimate setting. I was fascinated by their stories and was seeing clear improvement in my clients, right away. I felt like I was really making a difference and learning so much from this work. My clients were steadily increasing and by the time the school year was over, I’d decided to take a chance and do professional cuddling full time.”

What life experiences do you have that compliment your work as a Cuddlist?

“I believe many of my life experiences help me be a better cuddlist; my experience as a teacher, being an artist, being a mother, being an older woman, and having had a wide range of relationships throughout my life. My clients can relate to me, because I’m empathetic and have gone through a lot of what they’re going through.”

Can you share a specific story with a client that was meaningful to you?

“I have many meaningful stories from clients I’ve seen over this past year of cuddling. One experience that really stayed with me, was from a client who contacted me after having experienced a session at a floatation tank, where he was able to access a lot of memories of childhood trauma. He was a young, good looking, successful man, who was convinced he had already worked through all his past childhood problems and it was only in the floatation tank that he realized his mother’s emotional neglect had left a permanent imprint of trauma in his body. When he told this experience to a friend, they recommended he see a professional Cuddlist. He came to me, for a 2 hour session. As soon as I hugged and embraced him, he started to cry. He cried for almost the entire session as I held him, and comforted him. It was only at the very end of the session that he was able to talk to me about his family and about his childhood. I was very honored that he trusted me enough to be vulnerable at that moment. I thought to myself: where else could this have happened? Especially for a man, where can you go to simply be held, to be nurtured, to be vulnerable, to not be judged and to allow your emotions to flow freely, without fear?”

Is there a quote or saying that you live by?

“Not really, but I do believe we should all strive to be the better version of ourselves. I believe in a life lived without mediocrity and complacency.”

What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self, and what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“I would probably tell myself that life gets better with age, and that my wild curly hair, which I did not love, would become quite popular in the 80s.”

Is there anything else about you that you would like to share?

“I’m so grateful for this work I do, as a professional Cuddlist. As an outsider looking at the lives of others, as well as doing a fair amount of self reflection, it’s easy to see the patterns we have in relationships, the things that break us apart, and what we should be doing differently in order to have more honest and fulfilling relationships.”

-Nicolette Cetrulo