Touch and relate: body experience among staff in habilitation services
In habilitation centres staff meet children with different impairments, children who need extensive support and training while growing up. A prevailing biomedical view of the body in habilitation services is gradually becoming supplemented by a perspective on the body as constantly involved in experiencing and communicating, the latter involving also the bodies of the therapists. Investigating body experience in habilitation staff in their encounters with the children may provide concepts that make it easier to reflect on what is going on in the interaction. When shared among larger number of peers and supported by further research in the field, reflected body experience may become a substantial aspect of professional selfknowledge. Our aim with this study was to contribute to the understanding of what it means to be a body for other bodies in the specific relational context of child habilitation, and more specifically to investigate what role the therapists’ body experience may play for professional awareness and practice. In the study, five physiotherapists and three special-education teachers spoke of physical and emotional closeness (the body as affection) but also of a provoking closeness (the body as provoked) with the children and of how their own body experience made them more attentive to the children’s experience (the body as reference). Situations that included bodily limitations (the body as restriction) were described, as were situations where the body came into focus through the gazes of others or one’s own (the body as observed). The body was described as a flexible tool (the body as tool), and hands were given an exclusive position as a body part that was constantly communicating. Three shifts of intentionality that form a comprehensive structure for this body experience were discerned. When professional reflection is evoked it may further body awareness, deepen reflection in practice and strengthen intercorporeality.
CitationInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being (2014), vol. 9:21901
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