The potential benefits and dangers of physical contact between social workers and their clients have been debated for decades. Some authors and researchers assert that non-erotic touch, when done with discretion and client consent, may be therapeutic, while others caution that such contact, regardless of intent, risks being harmful to clients. The issue of physical contact between social workers and clients with schizophrenia may deserve special attention, given the boundary, interpersonal, and sensory deficits experienced by many of those persons. The purposes of this article are to review the literature on client/practitioner physical contact, consider the issue in the context of working with clients who have schizophrenia, and provide a list of practice recommendations for social workers.
Joseph Walsh, PhD
Social Work in Mental Health, Volume 16, 2018 – Issue 1