December 26, 2018 8:00 am
Updated: February 14, 2019 4:01 pm

Cuddling: A growing form of therapy

Wed, Dec 26: It might make some people a little uncomfortable, but for a growing number of people it's a powerful form of healing. Cuddle therapy is helping people find a sense of human connection they don't often get in the chaos of busy lives. Here's Jill Croteau.

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As a society, experts have studied the evolution of human conditioning and found that because of technology, real connection is absent from our daily lives.

There can be deprivation of the human touch. But professional cuddlers have found a way to restore and nurture therapeutic touch. Gillian Caldwell launched her business a couple of years ago.

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“Priorities are all skewed. If you look back at the tribes or clans and I imagine them in a cave all spooned up for survival. We used to need each other for survival and now we don’t,” Caldwell said.

READ MORE: New cuddle company brings professional snuggling to Winnipeg

For some, cuddle therapy can be a way to unplug and heal the soul.

“There’s a real sacredness of platonic touch because that’s what we got from our parents. It’s like kindness and touch without any strings attached, which is pretty magical,” Caldwell said.

“When you’re being touched there’s something in the body releasing oxytocin, a hormone that’s called a bonding hormone. It does so many things and reduces stress and anxiety.”

For her cuddling client, Chantal Piche, she was suffering from such isolation she was just too paralyzed to realize what she was missing.

“I was depressed and my head space was negative and dark and my suicide thoughts were prominent and in that sense I couldn’t see a light – until I did,” Piche said.

“I think it saved my life.”

Professional cuddler Gillian Caldwell and client Chantal Piche

Jill Croteau

Caldwell said it’s much like massage therapy, but more of a spiritual experience. There are boundaries, which she said are essential and it’s liberating for her clients because it forces away expectations.

“I get noise every time I tell someone what I do. They don’t believe it,” Caldwell said. “There’s a lot of cultural conditioning around this where people are like, ‘touch means sex.’ But it doesn’t have to be that way and can be more satisfying to separate the two.”

Her clients range from early 20s to the mid-60s, single and married, and even some caring for sick spouses who are starved for that human touch.

“It is humbling. I feel pretty honored to be in that position and feel like I was drawn to this for a reason and it’s something I have to give,” Caldwell said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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