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  • Thrive Detroit

Loving Touch Heals

Touch deprivation happens when someone is suffering from poor, loveless, or inadequate physical contact. Did you know that, across America, couples who sleep together each night are experiencing the effects of this malady? It’s a fact! And our anti-touch society not only affects couples; children and the elderly are experiencing isolation, violent behavior, and even depression due to touch hunger.

There are actually no-touch rules in many schools that punish students with expulsion if they are caught, for example, comforting a classmate who lost a pet. Schools with these rules have the children line up and extend their arms to show the child in front of them how close they are allowed to come to them walking down the hall. Now, I’ve heard of personal space, but how skewed is that?

So how do we relieve or prevent the effects of touch deprivation? Well, it’s simple. Loving touch heals. A hug a day could be what you need to keep the doctor away. And if you really want to get creative, you can learn four simple touch movements taught exclusively at The Art of Touch Studio or in “Touch Me with Love: A Couple’s Guide to Creative Expression.” Holding, tracing, pulling, and long, flowing strokes are the foundation for the creative masterpieces you will learn to paint with your hands, and the best part is that anyone can do it.

Small group or private workshops take place weekly at The Art of Touch Studio, located on the Detroit riverfront, and the results of these sessions have been, to many, miraculous. Couples have learned to better communicate and bond by expressing themselves non-verbally, thus reversing feelings of isolation, depression, and anger.

But what about the children, you may ask? The answer to that question can be a bit more complicated, because it was the fear of inappropriate touching by adults that created the school no-touch rules in the first place. Unfortunately when physical abuse or violations occur, some people react out of fear instead of searching for healthy solutions.  Their mind can become clouded by their emotions and they miscalculate the impact of the decisions they choose to make.

One remedy to prevent inappropriate touching is to teach appropriate touch. Some schools have adopted appropriate touch standards. In the book “Some Parts Are Not for Sharing,” author Julie Federico, who has been a middle school counselor since 1993, uses a pair of friendly fish to help children learn about what parts of our bodies we share with others. Including this book in each school’s curriculum would be more beneficial than punishing innocent children for comforting a friend.

In conclusion, appropriate, loving, nurturing touch heals. Touch is innate in humans. Just bump your knee and see. We touch to comfort and heal just like we smile when we are happy.

For more than a decade, massage therapist, empowerment coach, and author Versandra Kennebrew has introduced to the masses options for optimal health and well-being. She has been recognized by Detroit’s City Council for her leadership and commitment to enhance the quality of life of Detroit residents.  She is a recipient of the Spirit of Detroit and Distinguished Service Awards. For more information, visit 

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