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  • Writer's pictureAchab

Cuddle therapy or the incredible therapeutic power of tenderness

In our hyper-connected world, touch and physical contact between humans is in sharp decline. Some people may not have any physical contact with a human being for days, weeks or even months. Disorders such as depression and burn-out lead to deep loneliness, isolation and suicidal thoughts. Some health professionals are warning about the lack of hugs, which are necessary for our well-being and even our growth. However, a new practice has emerged and is gaining momentum: cuddle therapy. Achab, a care and therapy practitioner in Brussels and French Polynesia, sheds light on this new kind of therapy where strangers exchange hugs and leave happier.

What is cuddle therapy and how does it work?

Cuddle therapy, or the prescription of tenderness and gentleness, is defined as improving one's state of health, stress and standard of living by hugging often (at least once a day). In individual sessions with a therapist or in group sessions, individuals exchange hugs. Cuddling takes many forms: massage, hugging, rocking, simple hand contact, etc. In a cuddle therapy session, the emphasis is on listening to oneself, the other person and consent. No kissing or nudity here; tenderness is devoid of sexuality.

Why are hugs essential to our survival?

From the very first seconds of life, when the mother gives birth to her baby, the survival of the newborn depends on the hugs it receives. Research on premature babies has shown that they gain more weight when touched. For this reason, when babies come out of the womb, they are immediately given skin-to-skin contact.

Whether adult or child, cuddling is still necessary. Ideally, a baby should be cuddled every day for at least 20 minutes. As with adults, hugs generally do not last as long, so they should be repeated throughout the day. American psychologist Virginia Satir even explains that human beings need 4 hugs a day to survive, 8 to function, and 12 to grow.

What are the effects of cuddle therapy on the body?

Cuddle therapy wakes up the hormones! With the secretion of endorphin (happiness hormone), oxytocin (attachment hormone), dopamine and serotonin (natural anti-stress), and lowering of the stress hormone, cortisol, the cocktail is explosive. Cuddle therapy helps to:

· soothe and relieve pain;

· reduce anxiety and stress levels;

· reduce symptoms of depression;

· decrease feelings of loneliness and fear;

· increase self-esteem and self-confidence;

· strengthen bonding;

· stimulating the senses by increasing joy and happiness;

· strengthen the sense of security, belonging and connection to others.

Cuddle therapy seeks out individuals according to their needs and their relationship with the world. How can we give something we have not received? How can we receive what we have missed throughout our lives? Do we allow ourselves to love and be loved? How do we experience rejection? Cuddle therapy tackles deep existential questions while providing well-being and soothing. Reconnect with your inner self with Ahab and share hugs!

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