Peace & Cuddles: Trevor from @trevorjamesla Opens up About Being a Professional Cuddler
Upon seeing Trevor’s work on ‘60 Second Docs’, I immediately became interested in exploring the world of professional cuddling. Cuddling acts as a natural antidepressant, boosts our mood, releases oxytocin, relieves pain and so much more! The wonderful and inspiring Trevor James was kind enough to educate me all about his work and now I am sharing that conversation with all of you. Enjoy!
Could you please introduce yourself and talk a bit about what you do?
My name is Trevor James and I’m a Certified Touch and Cuddle Therapist. I use the modalities of touch cuddling to help a wide range of men, including people who are depressed, or lonely, or have experienced trauma or PTSD; people who are single or widowed and are looking for intimacy without sex; and people who don’t get enough touch in their lives.
What sparked the idea of becoming a professional cuddler?
When I left the event producing and directing business, I was looking for something that was less stressful for me but something that also directly helped people. I discovered the profession through a newspaper article and started to research it. The more I learned about it, the more interested I got. So I decided to get certified with Cuddle Professionals International in the UK and Cuddle Sanctuary in the US.
What are the greatest misconceptions about what you do?
The most frequent question I get asked is if the service I provide includes, or leads to sex. It does not. People also think platonic cuddling must be for women, or for men who are in some way weak, or emasculated.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is no part of the body that does not benefit from touch, so we all need it. Some people get much less than others. What I do is about helping the body produce more oxytocin; slowing down the nervous system, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and so much more.
What do your sessions include? Could you take me through the whole process?
The sessions usually begin with a warm welcoming hug (if the client is comfortable with it) and then a short consultation to find out what brings the client to me. They usually would have filled out a questionnaire , which we will go through and update if necessary. I’d like to know what the problem is that they need help with; what they’re comfortable with and what they’re not comfortable with.
We also do a “check-in” for the client to bring to consciousness how they are feeling in that moment, based on what’s going on in their life, or even on that day.
Next, I give them a brief overview of the session; what to expect, and what the boundaries are.
Once all of this housekeeping is done, we begin with some connection exercises like eye-gazing, and do some breathing exercises to help them relax and drop into their bodies.
The actual cuddling can now begin. We go through a sequence of cuddle positions that are carefully designed for the client based on their stated needs. These positions can also be modified for the client in the moment as well. The client also has the option to ask for a different position if the current one for some reason, doesn’t work for them.
At the end of the session, we check in again to see how the session was for them; what shifts they had; and what worked for them.
Who usually seeks cuddling services and why?
I see a wide range of people in my practice. Here are some reasons people might seek cuddling services:
Touch-deprived people: Sometimes we just want to cuddle with someone and you either don’t have one, or no one seems to be available. It’s important to get a good helping of touch and affection so we don’t up ‘touch-deprived’ or ‘skin-hungry’.
Divorced and widowed people: With a break-up, the frequent oxytocin release comes to a halt. Depending on how affectionate your relationship was, this can cause a serious shock to your system. Oxytocin withdrawal increases the feeling of post break-up loneliness and leaves you feeling desperate for that missing touch.
Travelers: If you have a job requiring frequent traveling around the country this could mean that you would not be getting the required affection and intimacy from your partner.
Single people: Many people often decide that they are not ready for a relationship. They may have consciously chosen to live the single life (or just happen to be single at the moment) — but that doesn’t changed one’s innate need for affection.
People in troubled relationships: Much as it is assumed that people in relationships would be getting all the cuddles, that is not necessarily true. If you are in a relationship and need some extra cuddles, you’re welcome to take advantage of a professional cuddler.
People who have experienced trauma or PTSD: Touch and cuddle therapy have been proven to be useful with people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from war, or abuse, or other trauma.
People with intimacy issues: For people who have problems with intimacy, platonic cuddling can help you feel more comfortable with touch and intimacy and boost your confidence. Cuddling is a safe container for people to explore closeness without the expectation of sex.
What are some of the therapeutic benefits people receive from the sessions?
There’s no part of the body that does not benefit from touch and cuddling. Here are some of the health benefits of touch and cuddling:
Decreases stress (reduces cortisol, the stress hormone)
Calms and relaxes mind and body — it’s that blissful “Ahhhh” feeling
Enhances mood, increasing joy and happiness
Helps you sleep well, reducing insomnia
Lowers blood pressure
Reduces heart disease risks
Relieves pain — oxytocin blocks pain signals
Boosts the immune system
Reduces cravings and weight gain
Strengthens bonding in relationships
Improves overall health and wellbeing
Lowers blood glucose
What are the most common challenges/issues that your patients experience?
The most common challenge for my clients is that they do not have many opportunities for platonic touch in their lives. It’s one of the complications modern life where many people live by themselves and nowadays even work at home as well. There’s a lot more physical isolation, which can be challenging for people who are touch-deprived.
Another challenge for my clients is societal homophobia. This makes most men reluctant to admit they need touch, so they suffer it out, or engage in unfulfilling casual sexual encounters.
How does cuddling help people in relationships versus single individuals?
Cuddling is helpful to people regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not. But single people are much more likely to suffer from touch deprivation, so opportunities for platonic, meaningful cuddling can be very helpful for single people.
But then, often people in relationships don’t know how to give proper touch, or even just receive touch. Touch and cuddle sessions can help couples reconnect with each other.
What soothing practices do you recommend to people to continue (or start) doing at home in order to further better their wellbeing?
A good reference is the Danish idea of “hygge”, which is about finding comfort, pleasure, and warmth in simple, soothing things such as a cozy atmosphere. Think soft, fluffy and warm blankets on a chilly night, candles, sipping tea, cuddling a giant stuffed toy, soaking in a tub… you get the idea.
Having a cat or dog is also a good idea for a human touch substitute.
What kind of enjoyment do you receive from the work that you do?
I love seeing my clients leave, relaxed, rejuvenated, relieved or unburdened when they leave. I want them to leave feeling like the world is a better place and they will be okay no matter what. When that happens it gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction.
What are some of the other services you offer?
I offer individual cuddle therapy sessions as well as group cuddle sessions. I’m also a masseur and offer a massage-and-cuddle combination package. I also facilitate monthly workshops on touch and intimacy.
How do you hope to expand your business in the future? What kind of impact do you want to continue to have on people’s lives?
The vision I have is to have a team of professional cuddlers to offer touch and cuddle therapy to more people. I look forward to a time when touch and cuddle therapy becomes more mainstream and men can easily access it.
I want to continue healing men through touch, and helping them grow in body, mind and spirit. I hope to help many more people attain intimacy and connection with people around them and with their lovers.
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