The thesis for my Masters of Psychoanalytic Studies at Monash University was on the subject of physical touch as it has been written about in the psychoanalytic literature. TITLE: Physical Touch- Theoretical and Practice Issues in the Psychoanalytic Literature. It can be found in the Monash University Library.

My thesis was then published as a small book by Psychoz Publications (Psychotherapy in Australia Journal) and titled TABOO OR NOT TABOO-Physical Touch in the Psychoanalytic Literature

New Edition

A second edition of the book was published by Psychoz in 2002. This edition has quite a lot of new material. I have included much more argument from the point of view of Somatic Psychotherapy and included some generalised material from my own experience with clients. The second edition is titled “TABOO OR NOT TABOO – Reflections on Physical Touch in Psychoanalysis and Somatic Psychotherapy.”.


In this revised edition, Alison Ball, a Somatic Psychotherapist with a Masters in Psychoanalytic Studies, considers the problematic topic of under what circumstances psychotherapists, counsellorspsychoanalysts and other helping professionals may legitimately use touch to help their clients. There are times when a simple handshake or pat on the shoulder appears to be the simplest, most direct and human way of expressing support for someone in distress. On other occasions, the relationship or mood in the consulting room may be so emotionally charged that such a touch would become so loaded with unintended meaning as to sabotage the therapeutic work. Where and why does one draw the line? In this important essay, Alison Ball summarises the essentials of what all practitioners should know about a topic central to therapy. Her condensed, yet highly accessible, account provides a thorough grounding in an area we all re-visit time and again. Who better than a Somatic Therapist to explore what Freud, Reich, Ferenczi and other analysts have to say on the matter? In a provocative conclusion, Ball suggests that the taboo on touch is not so much a taboo on touch itself, but on the open discussion of physical touch as a legitimate therapeutic intervention. In all, this is a thoughtful, timely, and highly recommended study.

How to Get a Copy of The Book

It is available at or by telephoning them on (Australia) (03) 9855 2220 or Fax (03) 9855 2225 or writing to Psychoz Publications P.O. Box 124 Kew, Victoria 3101. The cost is about $25-00.