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From The CriticsReviewer: Dana J Lawrence, DC, MMedEd, MA (Palmer College of Chiropractic)
Description: This book on the psychological dimensions of touch is designed for practitioners in healthcare who use touch therapeutically, and while it is directed primarily to massage therapists, it will find use within other professions that rely heavily on touching a patient's or client's body, such as chiropractic. This second edition adds new information related to the concept of "bodymind," places new emphasis on cultural considerations, and has replaced much of the older artwork.
Purpose: The book closely examines the emotional release that may occur during massage therapy and attempts to contextualize how these emotional responses occur and, therefore, looks into integrating massage therapy with body psychotherapy. It also will help sensitize healthcare practitioners to the psychological aspects of caring for patients in healthcare contexts where touch is essential. These are all worthy goals.
Audience: The book is directed at anyone using touch in therapy — massage therapists, chiropractors, and so on. It will find its home among students in those professions, though it could be a useful resource for practitioners as well. The authors are well known in their field and have the added benefit of working in dual settings that combine body therapy with touch therapy.
Features: The real focus here is on the psychological "life of the body," looking at the way in which touch may impact the psychology of the person being touched. The book begins by considering this from a general perspective, but then narrows the focus to what happens during massage therapy, both the negative and positive interactions that may occur. Body defenses are described and boundaries are examined. The relationship between body and mind is examined and the emotional release that occurs during therapy. Finally, the book looks at mental health conditions with an eye toward using touch therapy as an aid.
Assessment: This is an interesting book that would be a real positive for settings in which touch is common as part of therapy. All too often, the nature of touch is not considered in healthcare — what it might mean to the patient who feels the touch, how can it be harnessed to help the patient, etc. This book does a very fine job of sensitizing readers to the emotional considerations that may be involved. It links anatomy to psychology and psychology to emotion, providing a context for the emotional release that touch can engender that practitioners should be aware of.