I’m not a big hugger, (huger? one who hugs?) I will hug family, my girl friend, my grandson but I’m not a big fan of hugging co-workers, strangers, clients or 711 clerks. I really don’t think that hugging needs to be a part of a social worker’s skill set.
The stereotype of the social worker is full of feelings and hugs. (ew!) I don’t buy into the idea that a hug can save the world.
Granted, I have the luxury of saying this because I can get a hug anytime I want. I can tap my family, my girl friend, and grandson, not too mention some wonderful past co workers for a hug if needed. Plus, I have a chance to engage in casual contact and touching through out the day. (Not as dirty as it sounds, in fact not dirty at all)
What if you don’t have this luxury? What if casual physical contact or hugs are something that is not in your daily life.
For many of the people I work with, this is their reality. If they are on the street, living with a mental illness or have other barriers to close human relationships it is likely that their touch needs are not being met. (especially if they are male)
I was visiting a client on unit. I didn’t really know him well but we have had a connection. His mental health had take a bit of a hit and he was not in great shape. (depressed, suicidal). When our meeting finished we shook hands and I touched him on the shoulder. He reciprocated by grabbing my forearm. It was clear to me that this little bit of contact was more than he had had in a while. I did not offer a hug mostly because I did not think it was appropriate for the stage in the therapeutic relationship.
I Respect that there is a need for boundaries in social work but I also respect that there are times when we need to use our best judgement to determine the most appropriate level of physical contact. I will suggest that none of your professional be in private
What are your thoughts on hugging?