31 July, 2020
Stay-at-home choirs, virtual gallery tours, theatre from your sofa… Over the past few months, we’ve seen some inventive attempts to replicate in-person experiences through technology. But there are some things you just can’t recreate, right?
Not so, judging by the latest trend coming to a computer near you: virtual cuddle therapy.
Friday 5 readers with good memories might recall our piece on real-life cuddle therapy last year. During hour-long cuddling sessions, organisations such as London-based Nordic Cuddle draw on techniques including unison breathing, full body squeezing and fingertip massage to reduce stress and boost wellbeing. Unusual? Yes. Effective? Very possibly…
And now these professional cuddlers aren’t letting a pandemic stop them from reaching out. Los Angeles institution Cuddle Sanctuary has already begun replicating its therapy online, with participants invited to try massaging themselves whilst imagining the sensation of being cuddled.
Others are trading physical for emotional intimacy. In a series of Zoom sessions run by professional cuddler Shawn Coleman, participants are invited to share their responses to 36 questions that supposedly promote closeness and love.
The reviews are mixed, with one participant comparing the experience to a “vegetarian lasagne”: fine, as long as you’re not expecting the real thing.
But with social distancing looking unlikely to end any time soon, and the emotional effects of touch deprivation becoming ever clearer, we can only rejoice that professional cuddlers are embracing technology with open arms.
By Sarah Howden