Somatic movement dance therapists and specialists always ask their clients and participants to sign a touch consent form. This form delineates why practitioners use touch within the moving process.
Touch is used across a variety of bodywork health professions. Just as cranio-osteopaths, chiropractors and massage therapists use touch, SMDT'S and SMDS's also use touch. In fact, the skilled use of touch is one of the defining features of therapeutic practice. Qualified practitioners are trained in somatic touch and bodywork processes underpinned by experiential anatomy and physiology. Touch is offered to help participants develop sensory-perceptual movement awareness, subjective and objective anatomical and physiological knowledge, and imaginative skeletal-muscular expressive motor skills. Touch is also offered to support interoceptive awareness, afferent sensing - and thus self-regulation.
Touch is offered in one-on-one practice and in community groups. In the wake of Covid-19, defining why professional somatic movement therapists and specialists use touch has become even more important. Additionally, still using PPE and safeguarding both practitioner and client is at the forefront of our profession.
It is likely your practitioner will offer touch-based movement processes and bodywork within your session. Somatic movement practitioners do not manipulate or correct a person’s body. In contrast, touch is offered to support a person to self-regulate through their own sensory-perceptual imaginative movement. The type of touch that is used in this therapeutic field is 'subjective touch', not 'objective touch'. Participants are invited to sense-perceive their internal somatosensory system, in turn supporting their movement expressivity, creativity and imagination.
The intention of touch is to support easeful movement, creativity and self-regulation. Touch is used for the following reasons, greatly enhancing a client’s ability to self-regulate. For example, practitioners might use touch to:
I. reconnect participants to their sensory-motor feedback loop
II. enhance afferent sensing and conscious efferent motor expression
III. support expressivity, creativity and the imagination-in-movement.
IV. bring consciousness to living tissues and body systems that are often beneath consciousness
V. support fascial release through soft-tissue rolling and easeful motor pathways
VI. support skeletal-muscular alignment
VII. support anatomical differentiation and movement integration
VIII. calm and balance the nervous system (reduce sympathetic arousal and support parasympathetic ease)
IX. locate specific body tissues and systems
X. teach anatomy and physiology through subjective experience and objective knowledge
XI. release habituated patterns of neuromuscular holding
XII. initiate movement and support movement fluidity
XIII. enhance the imagination-in-movement, supporting skeletal-muscular dexterity and movement fluidity
XIV. connect with Self, others, and the community group through the non-verbal language of touch, dance and movement
XV. enhance moment-by-moment breath awareness and cardio-ception, reducing sympathetic arousal, and integrating mind and body
XVI. offer processes that explore presence in Self - and with other