Reviews

Book Review of The Ethics of Touch

British Holistic Medical Association
2009
by Justin Haroun

Not only is the subject of ethics huge for those working within the helping and healthcare professions. It is also highly complex, confusing and unfortunately does not come in a 'one size fits all' guide. If you add to this the dimension of physical touch, then ethics and ethical considerations become, well, huger. Benjamin and Sohnen-Moe's book, The Ethics of Touch, has explored this complex and interesting subject in a clearly-written, highly engaging and useable text. It is laid out well with chapters covering the main topics, such as boundaries, that you would expect to find in a book on ethics, as well as some topics that are often shied away from, such as sex and intimacy.

There are chapters covering: ethical principles; boundaries; the dynamics of effective communication; dual relationships; sex, touch and intimacy; ethical practice management; business ethics; special considerations in cases of trauma; and supervision. The The Ethics of Touch is not just a theoretical book; it encourages the reader to engage with the topics in an active way. The book contains relevant vignettes, illustrating examples of ethically challenging situations that the reader can study and explore. At the end of each chapter there is also a section offering questions for discussion and activities for the reader to work through.

This resource gives the text a workbook feel that will appeal to training providers as well as individuals. The book also contains very informative and useful appendices with sample client forms, protocols for working with traumatised patients and the codes of ethics for a range of relevant professional associations from both the US and UK.

Ethics is often talked about in training from a litigation perspective; The Ethics of Touch encourages and supports the reader in exploring ethics from a deeper understanding, where the therapeutic relationship is key, and ethical working is vital to the health of this relationship.

Human beings are diverse, complex, confusing and confused. That is why there can never be a 'one-size fits all' guide to ethics. Of course that is also what makes ethics such a wonderful and exciting topic for us to study and explore. The Ethics of Touch is an excellent resource and successfully brings this challenging topic to life.

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