Home FEATURED ARTICLE HOME PAGE Get In-Touch with Touch: A Powerful Tool for Emotional and Physiological Regulation

Get In-Touch with Touch: A Powerful Tool for Emotional and Physiological Regulation


Join Dr. Elya Steinberg at the International Trauma Conference in Boston on Psychological Trauma: Neuroscience, Identity and the Transformation of the Self, May 31 through June 3, 2017.



Dr Steinberg will present her workshop entitled, Get In-Touch with Touch: A Powerful Tool for Emotional and Physiological Regulation, Friday, June 2, 2017, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm .

According to Dr Steinberg, the aim of the workshop is to open a window into the ways in which they, at the Centre for Biodynamic Psychotherapy in London, UK, have been working with the controversial issue of touch within the psychotherapeutic encounter scientifically, theoretically and clinically.

During the workshop,  she will begin by looking at some key scientific aspects of the neurobiology of touch and how they relate to the diverse uses of touch in Biodynamic psychology. Scientific findings underpin our understanding of the use of touch clinically. She will explore an updated understanding of the place of touch in the therapeutic encounter, referencing current research on the neuroscience of touch, affective touch, attachment, and trauma using clinical examples and integrated experiential work.

She will pay attention to the phenomena of embodied transference, countertransference, resonance and interference (Boadella, 1981) whilst negotiating the dilemma: to touch or not to touch, and, if to touch, how to touch. Exploring how we as psychotherapists can “hold the possibility of touch, as it can be both an appropriate or inappropriate therapeutic intervention” (Asheri, 2009 page 108).

Touch is not a singular phenomenon. There are many ways to touch which create multisensoric impacts on human neurobiology and psychology. At the same time, there is a multiplicity of meaning in the ways in which two people in the therapy room, the psychotherapist and the client, perceive touch. Therefore, touch in the psychotherapeutic context is a complex non-linear phenomenon with a long history of debate, prohibition and

A deep understanding and moment-to-moment dynamic assessment of the possibilities of the level of contact, connection and context must be considered when getting in touch with touch. As a principle, the information which guides touch in the psychotherapeutic encounter is comprised of the same intentions, ethical boundaries, and guidelines of the psychotherapeutic framework as any other psychotherapeutic intervention. It relates to all human defense mechanisms, the neurodevelopmental need for attachment and the fear of sexual transgression.

During the experiential workshop, participants will explore what the ‘right’ touch could be and how this touch in a therapeutic encounter is an embodied intersubjective engagement, a tool of haptic human communication which has an impact on self-identity, perception, and the capacity for intimacy with another person. Touch has the power to change interactive and perceptual systems. The ‘right’ touch is attuned to the history and current life situation of the client. Attuned touch interventions are enabling and assisting the construction of new possibilities for adaptive regulation in all aspects of human intrasubjectivity and intersubjectivity,
emotionally, relationally and physiologically.

Learning outcomes:

1. Present current research findings on the neuroscience of touch, affective touch,
attachment and trauma.
2. Identify how touch can be used to regulate emotional and behavioral responses, and
explore its potential role in relationships of protecting and restoring safety and regulation.
3. Identify the need to be touched as part of the psychotherapeutic process including Trauma
Sensitive Indications and contraindications.
4. Discuss the spectrum of different methods of touch and how to use the therapist’s
neuroception (exteroceptive and interoceptive signals) in order to become attuned to and
assess the client’s informed consent to touch.
5. To describe and demonstrate touch using non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation (psychoperistalsis)
as a biofeedback system.


Dr. Elya Steinberg, MD, is the co-director of the Centre for Biodynamic Psychotherapy in
London, United Kingdom and head of training in the London School of Biodynamic
Psychotherapy (LSBP). She is a medical doctor and Biodynamic psychotherapist who
integrates Biodynamic psychology (Gerda Boyesen method), bioenergy, neurofeedback,
psychological trauma work, martial arts and integrative medicine into her work.

You can read more of Dr Steinberg’s work on her blog at Somatic Psychotherapy Today


Asheri, S. (2009). To touch or not to touch: a relational body psychotherapy perspective.
In Contemporary Body Psychotherapy, The Chiron Approach, 106-120.

Boadella, D. (1982). Transference, resonance and interference. Journal of Biodynamic
Psychology No 3, 73-94.