Relational Touch in Psychedelic Therapy

Touch, often regarded as our earliest form of communication and referred to as ‘the mother of all senses,’ holds profound importance in human development, particularly during the formative years of life. In psychedelic-assisted therapy, clients frequently revisit their early developmental experiences as a pathway to healing.

While touch can offer healing for developmental trauma, it remains a topic of controversy within the therapeutic field for fear of causing harm. Thus, there is a need to learn the importance of a safe, embodied, and ethical touch, especially within the context of psychedelic therapy.
Relational Touch, grounded in the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client, represents a nuanced approach to touch. Establishing Relational Touch requires careful preparation and the cultivation of trust and safety between the client and therapist. This presentation aims to provide insights into the principles of safe, relational, and ethical touch, exploring its potential application within the framework of psychedelic therapy.

Shirley Dvir

Shirley is the founder and lead teacher of Relational Somatic Healing and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT 44258). She is currently earning a PhD at California Institute for Integral Studies in Somatic Psychology and is writing her dissertation on the use of safe touch in psychotherapy. She earned an MA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and a BA in Social Work from Haifa University in Israel. For over 10 years, she taught as a Certified Hakomi Teacher at the Hakomi Institute of California, John F. Kennedy University, California Institute for Integral Studies, and Shiluv Center in Tivon, Israel. She has also supervised associates pursuing MFT licensure and currently mentors licensed practitioners. Shirley has been practicing psychotherapy since 1997 in agencies and private practice, seeing families, children, couples, and individuals. She has training in psychodynamic work, attachment, EMDR, Sensorimotor Trauma Therapy, the Enneagram, family therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, and Body Mind Centering (Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen). Her main work today focuses on healing relational wounds with safe embodied touch. Her spiritual practice and meditation support how she holds her work and her teaching. She has a private practice based in Berkeley, CA.