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Haptotherapy is the therapy based on the philosophy of haptonomy and can be described as a science that studies and describes the phenomena of human interaction. The essence of haptotherapy is to help the client become aware (again) of his natural ability to focus on and open up to affirmative interaction with the main goal of encouraging and restoring feelings of individuality and authenticity.

Within the studies of haptotherapy a distinction is made between a human body and psyche, which however should not be seen as separate from each other but as mutually dependent. Both aspects need to be recognized by a person to be able to develop and grow. Haptotherapy also recognizes the fact that personal development can only take place when someone receives a “confirmation of rational existence” (the fact that you exist) as well as “affective affirmation” (the fact that you are fine the way you are). Based on this need for confirmation, haptotherapy is characterized by the willingness of the therapist to reach out to the related client in order to help developing the client his personal growth. This requires knowledge and insight by the therapist, that is guided by feeling and reasoning, with the aim of helping individuals finding a balance in life by helping to develop or strengthen feelings of security, confidence and individuality. This all with the main purpose of giving the client the chance to feel comfortable with his abilities and inabilities in relation to his environment. The reciprocity in the interaction between therapist and client is key in haptotherapy and fundamental for the therapist to provide to the client. Applying haptotherapeutic skills or knowledge is not possible if the haptotherapist remains ‘unaffected’ and distant from the client.

The direct connection the therapist is offering helps the client experience in which situations he refrains or holds back and experiences feelings of discomfort, which are often caused by a disconnection of the person his values and believes and the life he is living. With the help of the therapist the client learns to accept and process these often hidden feelings and emotions leading to an increase in confidence and feeling more freedom to make his own decisions and to act upon these. Haptotherapy helps in developing the ability to open up for interaction but also to feel free to hold back if felt necessary with the main goal of letting the client feel comfortable with “becoming himself”.

Results of this “awareness-process” the client goes through during the therapy sessions could be that someone:

  • Learns to feel and experience when and if he is doing too many (or too little things) at a time and the way this impacts him;
  • Is able to comfortably let the surroundings influence his emotions and to deal with this;
  • More easily accepts difficult or painful situations;
  • Is able to make life decisions based on the fundamental connection of feeling (body) and thinking (mind).

Physical or psychological problems can, because of this, change, decrease or even disappear.


Indications for Haptotherapy

Haptotherapy is a person-orientated therapy, which can help clients deal with or even overcome different types of challenges, like for example:

  • Stagnated development as a consequence of feeling out of place, not feeling comfortable in your own body or being dissatisfied with a situation and not knowing what you actually want and feel;
  • Having difficulties with recognizing and expressing your emotions and feelings and/or not being able to set your own boundaries;
  • Negative self-image (inferiority complex);
  • Having difficulties with intimacy;
  • Relationship problems;
  • Problems related to life transitions (i.e. from adolescence to adulthood);
  • Problems with accepting or processing a loss, trauma, illness or disability;
  • Stress, nervous breakdown, loss of confidence in performance as a result of pain, long-term physical or mental overload or a burnout;
  • Physical symptoms with a possible psychosomatic cause.

The haptotherapist is able to verify whether haptotherapy is suitable for the related client by screening, questionnaires and haptotherapeutic research. The boundaries of haptotherapy lay where the body has to be mended “as an object” or where psychological problems can no longer be structured within emotions or reason as in the case with severe psychiatric disorders. If Haptotherapy is not deemed suitable, the haptotherapist will, after possible consultation, refer the client to the right specialist.


The treatment method

Starting the haptotherapeutical process the first appointment(s) relates to figuring out whether the related therapy proves to be adequate for the client by letting the client learn about / experience the following topics:

  • The fundamental principles related to Haptotherapy;
  • The haptotherapist and his method;
  • The impact of “touch” and its interpersonal abilities;
  • The overlap / similarities between the way a person is dealing with himself and the way he is dealing with others surrounding him.

After this an evaluation will take place and the client and therapist will decide together whether haptotherapy is the right kind of treatment for the client.

The focus of the haptotherapeutical sessions will be on a clear interaction between the therapist and the client that allows the client to identify, understand and accept his inner feelings and to learn about his own capabilities as a consequence. The main goal is to gradually shift the focus of the sessions from the complaint or problem the client is facing to this identification of feelings and the abilities of the client to deal with this feeling accordingly. The haptotherapist his role is to listen carefully to the client so he is able to identify the degree of support a client needs to discover his own capabilities to deal with complaints and problems related to answering difficult “life questions” and/or self-acceptance. Interaction between the therapist and the client based on affirmative affectivity is, based on the philosophy behind haptotherapy, of fundamental importance to achieve these goals.