I am an LCSW specializing in trauma, specifically sexual violence. I’m currently in private practice and have been practicing for over 15 years in various settings relating to serving sexual assault survivors and their significant others. I had known about Cuddlist thanks to an informational video I had watched years ago. I was intrigued, from a personal standpoint, and kept the information in my back pocket for future use should any clients ever need it. The opportunity recently arose where I felt the right client could benefit. What impresses me most about what Cuddlist offers is safe, consent based, platonic touch. It’s proven that humans benefit from nurturing touch, however our society often makes touch into something sexual, or worse, nonconsensual. When healing the trauma of sexual abuse, creating a safe, empowering, consent based environment is imperative. I really appreciate how this is also important to Cuddlist, and is the basis of their work.
One thing sexual violence teaches, especially if the violence occurred at a young age, is that a person’s body isn’t theirs. It’s for other’s pleasure. It’s for the taking. Learning boundaries, asking for healthy touch, being able to consent, and understanding what their feelings are around healthy touch is part of healing. Due to the ethical limitations of my profession, I can only do so much in helping a client in these areas. Actually practicing it with a professional who can engage in touch is much more impactful. In the case of people who have grown up in complex trauma filled situations (physical, sexual, verbal/emotional abuse as a child), what I see as a benefit of what Cuddlist does is reparation work. What I mean by this is helping heal those younger parts within the self, who have known nothing but hurtful touch. Again, one of my limitations as a therapist is contact. Aside from a possible hug, should a client initiate, it is unethical for me to do things such as hold and rock a client. Cuddlist professionals are able to do this! And I have personally seen the amazing healing that has occured from my client’s younger parts finally being able to receive kind touch in ways like this.
Lastly, the professional communication between Cuddlist and myself has been exceptional. The Cuddlist professional has strived to make sure my client’s therapeutic goals are being met. Should anything come up in either session pertaining to the other’s work, we are in contact. Her care and gentleness with the sensitivity to my client’s trauma has been instrumental in continued healing. She has offered my client unconditional positive regard, and been able to build an environment of trust and safety. I know my client is in good hands (no pun intended) and everything concerning the Cuddle sessions is run very professionally.
Honestly, I feel the Cuddlist work really is its own type of therapy. I would say it should be called Contact Therapy. I envision this would be helpful for clients not just healing from trauma, but also dealing with things like body image issues, communication, and relationships. I encourage other therapists to learn more about Cuddlist and how it might be of benefit to clients.
For more information for therapists, go to cuddlist.com/for-therapists.