To Hug or Not?



(Middle English (in the sense ‘encircle, surround, enclose’; formerly also as imbrace ): from Old French embracer, based on Latin in- ‘in’ + bracchium‘arm.’)


I’m sure I’m not the first or only one to think of this old Sinatra classic.  It’s the very first thing that popped into my mind.

Changing direction:  In my profession, we are strongly discouraged from physical contact with our clients. Hugging, embracing, even a pat on the shoulder, can be grounds for a law suit if someone decides to get their knickers in a twist. So I do not offer to make the first move.


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Big however coming up. When someone is clearly in deep emotional pain, and they stand up to leave and hold their arms out, please tell me, what is a therapist to do?  I’ve tried just taking their hands, but I get pulled in for a hug. So I hug. Women only, mind you.  I’m quite adept at sidestepping into a side hug when it’s a man, or just offering my hand for a handshake.  But women often don’t settle for that, needing the full embrace. So I hug.  They need it, and maybe I do, too.

My job is often stressful.  People in such pain need to know there is someone who is hearing them without making judgments, without criticism. Sometimes all I can do is cry with them while they sob out the story of whatever has turned their lives upside down and inside out.

Sometimes, the importance of a warm and caring human touch is more important than a code of ethics.


To Hug or Not?

5 thoughts on “To Hug or Not?

  1. I am not a hugger, in fact I do not like being touched. I hug my kids on the regular but that’s it! However, if I see someone who is clearly distressed (even someone I don’t know) I offer a hug. It must be hard in your profession to see someone pouring their heart put in their tears and not comfort them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My mom was not a hugger, but my dad was. Dad affirmed anytime he could and it was he who bolstered my ideas or calmed my fears. What’s more, he NEVER spanked me in my whole childhood. Guess which parent I admire the most? I decided to be like my dad. 🙂 But, like you, I sometimes wait to see if it is needed or not or welcomed or not.

    Liked by 1 person

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