Using touch as a way to manage aggression
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Using touch as a way to manage aggression

Susan Burns Violence and aggression adviser, Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, West Bromwich

Susan Burns examines the practice and implications of using touch as a form of non-verbal communication with patients who are in distress

This article explores the positive effects of touch, in particular the benefits and implications of giving comfort through touch to distressed individuals in aggressive situations. This type of touch can be regarded as therapeutic communication. It is integral to the wider range of non-verbal communication skills, and acknowledges cultural and social differences. The article describes ethical principles in the practice of touch, clinical decision making, nursing team dynamics and the implications of staff training. Throughout, the terms ‘nurse’ and ‘patient’ are used, but the principles described relate to any relationship between service user and service provider.

Mental Health Practice. 19, 3, 27-33. doi: 10.7748/mhp.19.3.27.s18


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 17 March 2014

Accepted: 31 March 2015