Microlecture 019: What is the Difference Between Social Touch and Therapeutic Touch?

Culture governs how we interpret many things including acceptable norms for touch.In many cultures, it is not acceptable to do prolonged social eye contact ( seen as a forward gesture) and it is not appropriate to touch a person, especially a person from the opposite gender.

In medicine, touch  (or “haptics“) is a vital part of the care we provide patients.  In fact, doctors do comprehensive medical exams of all patients irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity of the patient. So, what are the differences between social touch and therapeutic touch?  Are they governed by the same rules? How can you make therapeutic touch less intrusive and more respectful to patients?