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Power of Touch: Working with Survivors of Sexual Abuse Within Dance/Movement Therapy

Abstract

Touch is the first language humans learn; one learns to touch in the womb long before they develop an ability to communicate in other forms. This article speaks to the importance of touch in working with a survivor of sexual abuse. Dance/movement therapy (DMT) understands the importance of integrating the body into psychotherapy. Dance/movement therapist’s abilities to meet the individual where they are at somatically support their work with survivors in a touch model. This article, by reviewing existing literature and research in the field of the application of touch in the psychotherapeutic relationship, in combination with the research that states essential goals for survivors of sexual abuse within therapy, attempts to suggest ways in which DMT can enhance and support the use of touch in working with survivors. This article also suggests that touch is a healing component in psychotherapy, particularly in regards to working with survivors to reclaim and relearn their relationship to their bodies.

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Correspondence to Keira A. Cristobal.

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The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

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Submitted in partial satisfaction for the Somatic Counseling Psychology Program requirements of a masters’ degree in Dance/Movement Therapy & Body Psychology.

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Cristobal, K.A. Power of Touch: Working with Survivors of Sexual Abuse Within Dance/Movement Therapy. Am J Dance Ther 40, 68–86 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10465-018-9275-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10465-018-9275-7

Keywords

  • Dance/movement therapy
  • Survivors of sexual abuse
  • Touch
  • Touch continuum
  • Skin
  • Trauma