Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art



First Advisor

Marilyn Patterson

Second Advisor

Edward Doerr

Third Advisor

Pamela Nickels


Differences in perception of touch in psychotherapy were studied among clients with childhood sexual abuse and/or substance abuse issues. Forty clients from the general context of the "recovery community" were recruited to fill out an eleven item Revised Touch in Therapy Survey. Participants also gave narrative responses to a single open-ended question asking what meaning their touch experience held for them. The researcher adapted this current instrument from the longer, 1995 Touch in Therapy self-report questionnaire developed by Horton, Clance, Sterk-Elifson and Emshoff. A mail back system was used, with swveys returned to a local post office box.. The Llkert scale responses of the forty participants were analyzed based upon chi-square analyses, the purpose being to investigate the relationship between client type of issue and client type of perception of touch in therapy. Use of descriptive statistics supplemented the chi-square analyses. Ability to interpret chi-square results was unfortunately limited due to small sample size. The descriptive data and narrative responses, however, indicated generally positive touch perceptions among this sample group. The results did not support a blanket statement of contraindication of touch for clients with sexual abuse issues, a particular stance sometimes presented in the professional literature. The survey results generally appeared to support the position that a circumspect, ethical use of touch in psychotherapy may well be of benefit to some clients. General implications of these findings are discussed, as well as recommendations for further research.

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