Book Review of The Ethics of Touch

Reflexology Association of California
Reflexology Digest - August 2003
by Lisa Chan

This is just the sort of book that every body worker needs, a book whose time has come, and from the woman who gave us Present Yourself Powerfully and Business Mastery no less--Cherie Sohnen-Moe. She has teamed up with Ben E. Benjamin, author of Exercise Without injury and Listen to Your Pain, Are You Tense?

The Ethics of Touch is a manual about boundaries, ethical principles, the dynamics of effective communication and dual relationships. The long title is "The Hands-on Practitioner's Guide To Creating a Professional, Safe and Enduring Practice." It is about ethical practice management, business ethics, trauma, the role of clinical supervision and desexualizing touch.

It contains protocols on how to work with self-disclosed survivors of trauma and abuse, as well as discussions on prerequisites on how to work with such clients, body memories and flashbacks.

What the authors have gifted the body worker with is how to have neutrality in one's work, not to fix people or become involved with them, but to allow them to have their healing experience-or not.

In case you have any question, it contains 13 national and international codes of ethics for body workers, yoga teachers and oriental medicine doctors. It contains valuable information on how to dismiss a client, decline new clients and work with minors.

Trainings such as Polarity Therapy excel in teaching client-practitioner communication and boundaries, but this subject is only briefly discussed in most reflexology trainings, if at all. Boundaries are not taught in regular school, but as a reflexologist and polarity therapist, this reviewer has long ago equated good boundaries with good health.

We've all felt our boundaries violated. One feels sick, taken advantage of, violated--though sometimes without a specific reason. In general, all you have to do is visit with your birth family for a major holiday, or say "yes" to volunteering for something that you absolutely don't want to do. It's a sticky feeling, and brings up resistance and very personal issues. Needless to say, anyone working with other peoples' bodies and issues needs to be working on, processing and constantly questioning their own experiences.

"What can clinical supervision do to enhance my practice?" you might ask. "A skillful supervisor is like a guide in unfamiliar territory, enhancing understanding and helping direct the practitioner toward constructive solution, if necessary," write the authors. "The most important aspect of supervision, however, is the opportunity to explore and work through a problem." (page 250)

Included is a list of five supervision sources.

[Highly Recommended *****]

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