Embraces SU: A New Type of Therapy in Southern Utah
By Liz Smith, Professional Certified Cuddle Therapist and Owner of Embrace SU
In recent years, touch has been the center of many studies.The incredible physical and emotional health benefits of touch have been well-documented. Research is now showing that touch is a fundamental bonding, communication, and health factor for humans and that it takes eight to ten meaningful touches a day just to maintain emotional and physical health.
Touch communicates so many things:
- I’m here for you.
- You are important.
- You are safe.
- Hang in there.
- I love you.
- You are amazing.
- I’m scared, too.
- I’m sorry you are hurting.
- We can do this together.
Touch inspires positive thinking, expands trust, and reduces social anxiety and stress. It boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure. Touch releases endorphins that help regulate mood, social behaviors, appetite, digestion, sleep, and memory.
We live in a society where everyone is going nonstop. If we have a moment that isn’t filled, we fill it with social media, technology, and online entertainment. We are connecting with devices and to people online rather than connecting with the person next to us. We are giving more waves, high fives, and hugs through emojis then in real human interactions. We are a society that is craving personal intimacy but have forgotten that intimacy means a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group. We are a society that has turned physical touch into short sexual encounters that are meaningless and therefore unsatisfying. We walk away from these encounters feeling just as empty, deprived, and lonely.
Cuddle therapy provides fully-clothed, strictly appropriate, platonic touch in a controlled environment where communication, boundaries, and consent provide a safe space for those who are seeking and craving the wonderful benefits of touch.
What does a cuddle session look like? The first meeting or encounter is strictly a get-to-know-you meeting and is free of charge. I meet you in a public place of your choosing (such as a Starbucks or cafe). We talk and get to know each other, find out expectations, discuss what is wanted out of a session, talk about what is appropriate and what is proper consent, and set boundaries. If all goes well and both parties feel safe and want to move forward, we book a cuddle session, allowing twenty-four hours after our consultation for either person to cancel if there is a change of mind. On the day of the session, I collect payment and go over boundaries and consent to make sure nothing has changed. Then, our cuddling session begins. Most sessions are one to two hours in length but can be booked up to five hours at a time.
Past session include:
- a gentleman with autism who found it hard to make a connection with others although he craved touch.
- a man in the United States Army who felt it wasn’t fair to be in a relationship because he got called away without warning.
- a lonely single mother who found it hard to be close or vulnerable because of her previous abusive relationship.
- a recovering alcoholic who needed the extra emotional and physical strength to fight old demons and fears.
- a senior citizen who lost his wife of fifty-plus years and didn’t want to spend his birthday alone.
- a woman attending college who needed a place to mentally recharge where boundaries and consent with clear lines would be respected.
Whether you are older or younger, know that a safe space where appropriate touch with unmuddled boundaries is available—a space where you are accepted for who you are and where you are in your journey. There is someone with whom communication of your needs and wants is heard and respected and with whom there isn’t a fear of lines being crossed or pushed. There is a space to put yourself first with someone who recognizes the importance of self care and the benefits of human touch.