Participants agreed that touch was a better means of communication with a younger child and was more frequently practised with same gender children. Further long term association rendered physical contact more acceptable. Participants clearly identified the benefits of touch as a means of communication and reassurance. However multiple factors including professional attitude, hesitation, fear of being misinterpreted and indirect interaction with children contributed to most social workers rarely making use of touch practices with children. Further, touch practices in social work have not undergone much change in the last two decades.
Finally, the research reveals that most social workers are equipped and guided by their education and training though the responses of participants varied in this respect. They rarely allow personal experiences influence professional relationships. The paper concludes by stating the consensus for the need to openly, widely and exhaustively discuss the issue of touch practices. It also stresses the need of further research from different perspectives including society and child to negate the dilemma associated with the issue.
Touch is a frequently avoided topic in context to psychotherapy or social work even though its involvement during interaction with a client under stress is frequently unavoidable (McNeil-Haber, 2004). Besides a means of communication, touch has been considered to be essential to the emotional development of a child and has been reported to have remarkable healing power. On the other hand an inappropriate touch can severely impede the normal growth of an individual permanently scarring the mind (Zur, 2007). In this context the exploratory research in the current paper is a moderate yet significant effort initialising investigation on the topic specifically in context to social workers.
The opinion of the participants that