Interview with Dr Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar shares his approach to Relational Body Psychotherapy, how he works with the body safely and the importance of learning edges. Interview by Polly McLean.

Interview with Dr Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar

Sections in this interview

  • The interview
  • Influences on my work
  • Touch in body psychotherapy, its complexities and countertransference
  • Using touch
  • Breaking with tradition
  • Coming home

Polly McLean: Can you tell me how you got interested in Psychotherapy?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: My clinical education started at the Hebrew University, where I began studying philosophy and psychology and was deeply disappointed with the courses in psychology. I wasn’t interested in studying statistics, or animal behaviour. In fact, I wasn’t interested in anything I could read by myself at home, and was lacking contactful dialogue. When I understood that the entire undergraduate degree will be focused on the history of psychology and psychopathology rather than clinically relevant material, I stopped my psychology studies and went to study massage until I figured out what to do next. Here I found exactly this unmediated bridge into connection, a transformative experience that allowed me to accompany another in the way I was yearning for. But I lacked psychological understanding. In a way, all my studies since involve seeking this original delight I found in the massage course while still being grounded in theoretical and clinical understanding.

Influences on my work

Polly McLean: Can you outline the kind of work that you do. I know that’s a broad remit but imagine you were describing your work to a psychotherapist who didn’t already know it.  

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Well, I see myself as a relational psychotherapist, that’s my first professional definition. My work integrates three main axes of influence, all of which have been quite profoundly influenced by magic. I’m a kind of sucker for magic so I always seek places of magic, not trickery magic, but when something magical happens. So, one of these axes, the first one, is body psychotherapy, and body psychotherapy is a place where often, if possible, there is a space for immediate, unmediated connection. I’m particularly interested in working with touch, with all its complexities – when held ethically and when it works, it offers moments of sharing that I don’t find anywhere else. And so that’s one of the axes: body psychotherapy, which is a well-established tradition. And the second is trance work. I don’t say hypnosis because hypnosis has a bad reputation, as a technique that you do to a client, and manipulate a client, but trance occurs a lot of the time – you know, when the field opens, when we are shifting something about how we are, the moments in therapy, the moments in groups when the group ceases to be just individuals and suddenly becomes a group spirit, these are trances for me. And hypnosis and shamanic work and NLP and some other forms of therapy all perfected or honed the skill of inviting someone into a trance. So the way I use it is rarely creating trance but picking the little trances that occur naturally and opening the door a bit more, expanding on it. So that’s the second. And the third is relational psychoanalysis, and its greater emphasis on the I-thou connection that exists beside, or alongside the transferential dynamics.

Polly McLean: And who would you particularly reference in that field?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Stephen Mitchell, Jessica Benjamin, Thomas Ogden, Philip Bromberg, Philip Ringstorm, Lewis Aron. This is a very rich tradition… Daniel Stern … Susie Orbach. And there is something about permission - in all three traditions, at best, there’s permission for me to admit my need for another rather than pathologise it.

Polly McLean: So really challenging that notion of Freud’s about being outside, and observing.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes, outside, observing, and that the therapist needs to attain a degree of neutrally hovering attention. I’m a messy person, I get deeply involved, I get deeply passionate. I am good at getting out of a mess, but I’m a messy person. And I have no place in the world of psychotherapy if psychotherapy is all about cleanliness and neutrality. So these traditions are kind of places where they allow me in.

I think about about three types of bodies, or three ways of relating to a body. The first is having a body, you know, most of us in a consumerist Western world if we do have a body then we relate to it as having a body, so I have a hand, I have an ache in my back, I have a penis, it’s not really my responsibility what’s happening down there, but I have one! And if I have a problem then I go to a hand doctor who will fix it. That is, the first level of body is the body as an object. And the second body is being a body – an embodied identity, and a lot of body psychotherapy is about assisting people to be embodied, to allow ourselves to identify with our somatic presence so that we are not alienated from it. And then the third is the intersubjective body, belonging to a body, or being a part of a body, a wider body, it can be a dyad, it can be a family, it can be a community, and some things cannot be achieved only in a single unit. So Nick Totton is the main person here who carries this on his sleeve, who is the forerunner of political or eco-responsibility in the body psychotherapy world and I am really excited by that.

Polly McLean: Thank you. That’s helpful. And so you were talking about the rich tradition of body psychotherapy1 and you taught, ran workshops and participated at the EABP Congress last year. And I wondered what you were excited about, what particularly touched you. What developments and currents have stayed in your mind?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: There is a new rigour in the field of body psychotherapy, when it invites and is willing to engage with relational thinking, that I have particularly enjoyed. And it too has to do with a little bit more mess. When I say mess I mean the places that are not comfortable but are growing edges. I think if you are a group facilitator you know these places, where we grow. So, bringing the body is not comfortable. It’s inconvenient for therapists. We fart, we smell things, we are smelled, and when we are touched and touch we feel things, and we are felt, in ways that are not comfortable. Touching emphasises the therapist’s visibility – it’s there anyways, but it is amplified. Freud said in On beginning the treatment2 that one of the reasons for the couch is that he couldn’t bear being stared at for eight hours or more.

Polly McLean: Yes, being seen.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes, so as a body psychotherapist when you work with the body you are seen all the time, and that’s messy. And the second thing, relationality, is messy. When the therapist says my subjectivity is also part of the analytic discourse, you can comment on me, I will sometimes share my raw, or not completely processed material. And what I particularly enjoy is the political aspect here, when we say OK there is also something almost profane in the illusion that when the two of us are in a room, the outside world doesn’t come in. That we have a responsibility, both of the impact that we are seeing, and the impact that we create in the relationship.

Touch in body psychotherapy, its complexities and countertransference

Polly McLean: Moving on, you mentioned that a real interest of yours is in working with touch, which of course has a controversial background in psychotherapy.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes. It’s a bit funny, because today most therapists, psychological research, most psychotherapists have read about the developmental importance of touch, both in infancy and in adulthood3. And I think that the categorical forbidding of touch emphasises for the client that words are always good, and body and touch is always dangerous. For example, I was demonstrating a workshop in Israel in a body psychotherapy college, and the client was in a very regressive space, and so I  embraced her, she sat here with her back to me, … And then one of the people said, ‘we were taught that when you hold somebody like that, you have to put a cushion between your genitals and the person, and it felt really unsafe that you didn’t.’ Well, you know, rules about it are very easy, they make things easier, but I said… had my countertransference been erotic, I wouldn’t have invited that person, it didn’t even occur to me on the countertransferential level, it was so paternal, or even maternal, that it wasn’t there. If I automatically put a cushion between my genital area and the client I am declaring: I cannot trust my sexuality, it’s dangerous, and we are entering a categorically dangerous space. And if I did become aroused, then we would talk about it and… you know I don’t think my clients should have to deal with my erection, but I treat it as something that happens in the field, so even if I don’t share it, it’s there.

Polly McLean: And you presumably you use it in your thought process.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes. Sexual arousal is first and foremost about wanting to connect, it’s not about penetration. It’s about our deep desire to connect. Alongside of that there’s the drive, and in any relationship – and the therapeutic relationship is not different from any relationship – if there isn’t an erotic charge then I think I would hesitate to work with that person. If there isn’t an aggressive charge I would hesitate to work with that person. Because it means that there isn’t aliveness in the room. And aliveness can manifest in a lot of ways. The potential for aliveness carries also the shadow of eroticism, eroticising, and aggression, but it’s also what keeps us alive.

Polly McLean: And how do you find that that works if you’re working with a client for example who has particularly sexual trauma?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Well, it would be re-enacted inevitably in the transferential dynamics, even if I try to fight that enactment by trying to be as distant as possible, it would still re-enact. So, if I allow myself to be mindful of what’s evoked in my body, however shameful it is, and gently work with it, sometimes not outwardly but acknowledge it and notice it, then this is the work. You know, this is how Freud began therapy – we are all starting with a kind of goal, and then the transference gets in the way. And erotic transference, because of this stupid accountability, means we want to find someone else to regulate and take responsibility for this, so often we abandon our responsibility, not just for the other, but also for our own genuine responses. And I think that if we are responsible enough, and responsibility also means having somebody else to help us – a supervisor and a therapist – then we can work ethically, if we assume responsibility.

Polly McLean:And I’m reminded of I think Andrew Samuels talking about erotic playback, how as a parent you would try to acknowledge your child’s erotic nature without acting on it, or without taking it, you… see it and say, that’s beautiful…

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Are you a parent?

Polly McLean: I’m not, actually, but many times over an aunt.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes. I can give you two examples, one from my daughter and another from therapy, which is a bit more extreme. So my daughter is five now, and she likes to play swapping. So she swaps, either she is daddy and I’m her, Zohar, or she can be mummy and she loves to say, ‘oh daddy daddy, I’ll be mum and you be dad, and let’s go to bed and talk about Zohar.’ [Laughter]. I say OK. And then she hugs me and she says, ‘Oh I love you so much Dad, er Asaf’, and I say, ‘I love you too, Tom’, and then she says, ‘Can I kiss you?’ and I say yes [turning his cheek] and she kisses me, and says ‘can I kiss you with my tongue?’ and I say ‘no, that’s for mummy’, and she says ‘but I’m mummy’, and I say ‘yeah, but that’s just for real mummy’, and when she comes in bed with us and starts wriggling around and she expresses more interest in my genitals it is exciting, it’s exciting and it’s also erotic, and I think it’s not her responsibility to tolerate my erotic arousal, so we don’t let her sleep between us.

And then therapeutically – this is quite an extreme example – I once worked with somebody who was a very beautiful woman, late twenties, and she kept spontaneously regressing into a very young place of speaking like this [baby voice] and every time she regressed I found myself getting sexually aroused… not nice sexual arousal, I wanted to rape her, I wanted to bugger her, I wanted to hurt her, and it was around the time when my wife was pregnant with our first child and I thought, ‘I am a paedophile. I shouldn’t be around children, what kind of therapist am I, blah blah blah’. I was so ashamed that for three weeks I didn’t even bring it to supervision, I just blamed myself for the bad therapist that I was, hoping she would go away. After three weeks I kind of came out and talked to my wife and she said, ‘sounds like a good thing to take to your supervisor!’ And then I took it to my supervision, and he heard it and said, ‘at some point it would be wise, to find a way of bringing it out’. And by then I was little bit less shame-bound, and she regressed, and afterwards, when she was in an adult state I said, you know there’s something really weird that’s happening in me in terms of the attention and the erotic charge that’s happening when you’re little. And she stopped for a moment and she started crying. And memories started coming up. And she said that in the last few weeks, memories had arrived in her dreams, and she’d started dreaming about abuse, by a family member, and then she talked to her sisters, all of whom had experienced the same thing. And then the minute that it was out, I was only aroused by her… normally. I was still attracted to both the woman she was and the child, and I could get aroused, but my fantasy life, my countertransferential fantasy had completely changed – so projective identification, and transference in general first have somatic presence.

Polly McLean: That reminds me of Shoshi Asheri’s fantastic article, ‘Erotic desire in the therapy room: Dare we embody it? Dare we not?’ It’s very brave work.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: It is, and it’s there anyways. And Shoshi is a very brave role-model for me.

Polly McLean:Yes, I guess that’s the point she’s making and you’re making as well – that by not going there you are also blocking something, you are making something not allowed.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes. And part of the shadow of body psychotherapy – because, you know, we touch so we reach places that nobody else does – is to surrender into the good mother. Or the doctor that knows better. But particularly the good mother.

Polly McLean: All-nurturing.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes, I am all-nurturing, the shadow belongs elsewhere. And we can do good work… But I think if the shadow doesn’t enter therapy then it’s incomplete. Have you ever been satisfied by a group work that was just sweet?

Polly McLean: I’ve never really seen it happen!

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes, but a therapist or a group facilitator that is anxious of things not being nice can have just nice, niceties.

Polly McLean: For sure. And obviously in the history of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis there are many, many therapists who have ended up sleeping with their patients, and that’s clearly where some of the nervousness comes from.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes. So the question is what prevents it, and what prompts it? Is touching prompting it? Is it not working through your own shadow that prompts it? Is it looking to your client as the sole provider of your intimacy and erotic needs? You know in times when I have real big rows with my wife, I rarely touch.

Polly McLean:Right. And is that a decision, or…

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: It’s a decision. Because I feel a greater need to use my clients to satisfy my needs… Not long ago I was running a training, the longest I ever went away from my family, it was ten days, and the last three days I was teaching in London and I got really aggressive, a few times, with a group. Not physically… and they challenged me, and I suddenly realised that I needed them, because my wife wasn’t there, my girls weren’t there, my friends weren’t there, the assistant I was planning on couldn’t come, and so my need for them was so huge that I resented it, and I started being aggressive when they didn’t provide contact. My teacher Silke Ziehl says that the best way to become a good therapist is to make sure you have a good life. So, there are necessary preconditions for working very intimately, and I don’t think I would have done it if I weren’t intimately met, sexually met…[silence].

Polly McLean:You mentioned falling in love with clients – what about them falling in love with you? Because I suppose one of the risks with touch, partly as you say the good mother thing but also maybe just touch and intimacy in general, is that perhaps it’s hard to feel angry with a therapist who is providing that.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: No, it’s not. When you think that, you’re thinking of only one type of touch, the nurturing touch. Touch is a language, it can provide satisfaction or frustration, safety or challange. And part of the training in body psychotherapy is to use that language astutely, and I can convey with touch, you know, ‘thank you very much, watch out,’ – meaning, touch could be a way to establish safe boundaries and strengthen them, to profoundly discover our yeses and nos. But you can also say with touch ‘I really want to have you’, or  ‘is it ok, that we just…?’: it can be a real, whole language. And when you are unaware of how you speak the language, you work more clumsily. And it’s interesting, lots of people ask, what if the client falls in love with you? And I say well, but where did we stray from psychodynamic thinking? If you touch with the purpose of creating romantic or erotic affect it is indeed problematic, if it is understood primarily like that – it should be worked through thoroughly. But I wonder if we are not all too cautious. Because, it’s OK – if the client falls in love with me, we work with it. That’s the first stages of therapy, you know, we are a transferential dyad… so, if the client falls in love with an inaccessible… even if I touch them during a session, I’m…

Polly McLean: You’re still inaccessible really.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: And so the real fear is not from touch, it’s from transference, and countertransference. And again our attempt, as therapists, on one level to really facilitate, and on another to do it nicely (or neatly). OK, so I will really facilitate, but just don’t get too angry with me, and don’t fall in love with me, don’t fancy me, don’t, what else?

Polly McLean: I guess, don’t stalk me.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes, and I’ve had stalkers, and that’s working material. When I first started studying hypnosis one of the girls who studied with me said ‘how can you do both psychotherapy and touch?’ It was in the real beginning of my work, and I said: ‘it’s very easy. I totally disconnect from my sexuality. I’m not a sexual person, I just touch, with loving kindness.’ And thinking about it – you know, it’s fifteen years ago, I think…. Bollocks! It’s bollocks! And even if it were true, do you really want to cut off such a significant part of yourself for your entire working career?

Polly McLean: Do you notice the difference for yourself, from when you were trying to do that, to touch without any sexuality, any effect on your own energetic life?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Well I was totally preoccupied with my saviour fantasy… it was quite funny, I was all dressed in white, and working with massage oils, and you know they stain white so it looked like I had pee stains all over my trousers but I would still kind of hold fast to my sacred position [laughing].

Polly McLean: That’s very funny.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yeah, it was. So there’s something in that… sinking into both the vulnerability and the intolerable position of being human. You know I try to escape from my body but it keeps coming back. And the pleasure, it’s a relief to know that we can’t escape. You said you’re working with women’s sexuality, I’m sure you know the attempt to escape…

Polly McLean: It’s very easy to work with sexuality in a very non… people can talk about sex without it being alive.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: It’s amazing how you can turn everything into a dead subject if you’re good enough at it.

Not using touch

Polly McLean: And do you ever not use touch with your clients?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Yes, there are people that I don’t use touch with.

Polly McLean: And why not?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Either it is inappropriate for them…You know, not everybody is a good candidate for psychotherapy, with some people psychotherapy would break their defences far too early, or would otherwise make their life too difficult. Dissociation is a good thing sometimes, and in that respect touch is kind of a bridge and sometimes it brings up or helps in surfacing material that requires containment, and there are some clients with whom touch is inappropriate in that regard, or they’re not ready or they don’t want it, or if I find it hard to contain my countertransference. If I’m very very attracted to somebody then they might lose some of the aspects of connection, not because it’s bad to be attracted but because I would lose track of what we’re here to do. Touch can also be problematic for cultural reasons.

Polly McLean: Yes. So in that way it’s sounding like you experience touch as a kind of amplifier of everything?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: It is an amplifier, for me. I grew up in an amazingly loving family, where nothing bad was ever spoken about, so I don’t believe words and I trust my fingers, my fingers are much better ears and eyes than what I hear and see. So touch is an amazing amplifier but it’s also a diagnostic tool. I asked my therapists to touch me, even if they weren’t body psychotherapists, I had a Jungian analyst once and I said, I can’t work with you only in the psychic field…

Breaking with tradition

Polly McLean: In one of your articles you quote Marx saying something like ‘the traditions of the past weigh like nightmares on the brains of the living’, and I’m thinking that in a lot of what you’ve said today you’re kind of breaking with tradition, or maybe there is an emerging tradition, but you’re brave in what you’re saying, and you seem unafraid to step out.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Oh I’m very afraid, it just doesn’t stop me. But also I’m not just breaking tradition. Reich was breaking tradition. Ferenczi was holding his clients, and talking about sexuality. Yes, he did marry his… he had an affair with a patient and married her mother. And I don’t think it has anything to do with touching or just with sexual drives, it has a lot to do with unprocessed material and it happens across modalities, so I deeply lean on traditions, on relational psychoanalytic and Freudian thinking, on body psychotherapeutic thinking, on Ericksonian thinking (Milton Erickson), I’ve got really good ancestors and amazing supervisors who… who encourage aliveness. I’m attracted to where life is.

Polly McLean:That makes me think of the meaning of libido, as in life energy.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Or, in Reichian terminology – Orgone… And also you know I wasn’t as brave in the beginning of my practice. I think without theory, bravery is charlatanism.

Polly McLean: So do you think that your bravery has come as a result of seeing what works?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Well it has come from good training, from good supervision, from having brave therapists, from having an amazingly supportive wife.

Coming home

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: What are you thinking?

Polly McLean: I’m thinking, it’s brave work and it’s great and you make it sound quite easy.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: No.

Polly McLean: And I suppose I’m asking where are your learning edges? In the articles I read in preparation I was very moved by your willingness to admit – which you’re doing here as well – your uncertainties, the possibility of failure, and yet you know it does sound easy, we take care of ourselves and then we’re able to really be responsible…

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: No. I’m… I think my greatest skill as a therapist is that I know how to repair ruptures. My dad always used to say that a clever man knows how to get out of situations that a wise man doesn’t get into. Yes?

Polly McLean: OK.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: I’m not wise. I get into messy situations all the time. And I know how to get out of them, mostly… I really invest energy in cultivating coming home.

Polly McLean: Coming home internally?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Coming home to myself, to my beliefs, to connection.

Polly McLean: Do you have particular practices that you use?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: I meditate, I do self-hypnosis, I like walking. I say that and I feel like a fraud, because since my daughters were born, I find it very difficult to get up and do stuff. And I use the times that I have alone to write and do things on my own. But principally speaking [laughs] I used to do self-hypnosis a lot, and meditate, and walk. There are a lot of growing edges. I often wonder about the stupidity of my practice because I keep falling in love and I keep being wounded and I keep opening my heart and it hurts, and this is a profession where we cultivate and encourage intimacy as a facilitative environment for growth and we do it with the hope that at some point our clients will abandon us and we will remain, a little like being a parent – and I think there’s some real deep pathology about the decision to become a therapist: on one level offering ourselves  as objects – we are not seen, and on another I’ve chosen a modality where my subjectivity is constantly on the line, and wishing for myself to be a subject, and then when we are able to be two persons in the room, without our transferential shadows – not that it’s ever possible completely, but when we are able to do it – then you go! It’s insane.

Polly McLean: Very like being a parent, I imagine.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Oh, I really hope I’ve got a few years before they leave [laughs]. But yes, it is. So the benefit is having a real expanding heart. But I wake up at nights with panic attacks, sometimes, and wake from dreams missing clients that I’ve said goodbye to, and I cry a lot with clients, and sometimes I just think, what the fuck are you doing?

Polly McLean: I’m reminded of one of your articles when you ask, is it foolhardy, is it crazy to let yourself be touched so much, and the question that comes to me is what’s left over for your personal life or private life, because you’re giving so much of yourself into your practice.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: When I was asked, on the keynote panel about relational body psychotherapy, how I wanted to introduce myself, I said I’m a man, a father, a husband, and I’m a psychotherapist, trainer and writer. I work four days a week, and three days are for my family and for me. And my daughters are the most… I’ll show you a picture… the most precious thing in my life. And I really value my relationship with Tom, she’s my home.

Polly McLean: Does she work in the field herself?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: No, she’s a cancer researcher. I remember the first time I fell in love with a client and it totally shook me and I came and said I don’t know what’s happening, and she started laughing and she said, ‘is this woman really powerful, and really needs saving?’ And I said, how did you know? She just said: ‘Supervision!’ So, I’m really privileged to have a wife who recognises my transferential pitfalls, and doesn’t… she has good reason not to worry, but she is a support.  

I don’t really know that I have an answer for your question about what’s left over for my personal life. This work is an art, at best, and I’m quite compulsive with a need to create, a need to engage in art, and there’s something lovely about psychotherapy because it allows both for art, and for connection, so satisfying both the narcissistic and the genuinely relational bits. But you know on holidays what I like to do is get out of people and just go to see animals…

Polly McLean:Right [laughs]. Yeah.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: You know about that?

Polly McLean: Yes, I can understand that very much. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: No that’s  it.

Polly McLean: Thank you very much for your time.

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar: Thank you.


  1. Rolef Ben-Shahar, A. (2012). The Relational Turn and Body-Psychotherapy II. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: Individual selves and dyadic selves in relational body psychotherapy. In C. Young (Ed.), About Relational Body-Psychotherapy (pp. 129-154). Stow: Body-Psychotherapy Publications.

  2. "I hold to the plan of getting the patient to lie on a sofa while I sit behind him out of his sight. This arrangement has a historical basis; it is the remnant of the hypnotic method out of which psycho-analysis was evolved. But it deserves to be maintained for many reasons. The first is a personal motive, but one which others may share with me. I cannot put up with being stared at by other people for eight hours a day (or more). Since, while I am listening to the patient, I, too, give myself over to the current of my unconscious thoughts, I do not wish my expressions of face to give the patient material for interpretations or to influence him in what he tells me." (pp.133-134).

  3. Freud S. (1913). On Beginning the Treatment (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis I). In Strachey J (ed) The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press, 1958; Vol. 12: 121-144.

Further reading

  1. Harlow, H. F., & Zimmermann, R. R. (1959). Affectional responses in the infant monkey; orphaned baby monkeys develop a strong and persistent attachment to inanimate surrogate mothers. Science, 130(3373), 421-432.

  2. Kertay, L., & Reviere, S. L. (1993). The use of touch in psychotherapy: Theoretical and ethical considerations. Psychotherapy: Theory Research, Practice, Training, 30(1), 32-40.

  3. Kertay, L., & Reviere, S. L. (1998). Touch in context. In E. W. L. Smith, P. R. Clance & S. Imes (Eds.), Touch in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice (pp. 16-35). New York: The Guilford Press.

  4. Soth, M. (2002). A response to Maggie Turp's paper from a body psychotherapy perspective. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 5(2), 121-133.

  5. Turp, M. (1999). Touch, enjoyment and health: In infancy. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 2(1), 23-39.

  6. Turp, M. (2000). Touch, enjoyment and health: in adult life. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 3(1), 61-76.


Author Bio

Dr Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar, PhD is a father to Zohar and Shuy Grace, a husband to Tom, and an Israeli-based relational body-psychotherapist.

Asaf is the training director of the Relational Body Psychotherapy Programme at the Israeli Centre for Body-Mind Medicine. He also teaches in clinical and academic centres in Israel and Europe. He has published papers about body psychotherapy, politics, relational psychotherapy and hypnosis and a few book chapters in psychotherapy books. His first book, A Therapeutic Anatomy, is a textbook in Hebrew on relational body psychotherapy and was recently published in Israel.

Asaf is a member of the editorial board of Body psychotherapy Publications, as well as Self & Society and Body, Dance and Movement in Psychotherapy.

He loves wildlife (particularly birds), dancing, music (he dreams of being a DJ) and tattoos.

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