Tickling During Therapy Session

If a person asks to be tickled during therapy because it helps them be more comfortable and open during the session, is that ok?

Ben's Answer:
I must say, that's the first time anyone has asked me that question! As to whether it's OK to ask such a thing of your therapist - I'd have to say yes, it's OK to ask. But a therapist would be very unlikely (and unwise) to indulge a request like this, for many reasons. Most therapists would refrain from physical contact of any kind; although it is not uncommon to shake hands, get a pat on the back or even a hug after a session, tickling would be more physically intimate than most therapists would get. There's too much risk of unpredictable consequences of crossing that boundary. Tickling is too often experienced as an intrusive behavior and it's not uncommon for some people to have actually been abused by being tickled against their will as children. Even though the reflex is to laugh - for some this has been a sort of torture because they're laughing while what they really feel is rage and desperation.

While this might not be at all true for you - it's a form of physical contact that a therapist would consider far too intrusive and disrespectful of your boundaries (even if you ask for it).

Finding some other way to make you laugh, through humor, to help you relax, would be the better way to go, and would be safer for both of you.

Best wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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