The Healing and Connective Power of Touch

By Landon Kirk | Added December 14

Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein ( has empirically supported some of the critical points of Calo's relational model which requires the use of safe touch. With so many Americans drifting to a preference of cyber relationships it may not be surprising that the United States lags behind many other countries when it comes to understanding and harnessing the power of human to human touch and connection. In one of Hertenstein's publications, 70 percent of strangers could communicate emotion with one another through nothing more than a touch. Researchers have also found that a supportive touch can ease pain, alleviate stress and encourage peers to participate in class. It might be as simple as a pat on the back, a gentle hug or a supportive touch on the arm. These gestures may seem small, but research shows more and more that touch is a powerful way to communicate emotion and acceptance. Calo students regularly receive peer-peer and staff-student safe touch (defined as side hugs or touch on the upper back or arms). 

So, the next time you find your words are falling on deaf ears, try connecting through safe touch instead.  No words, just touch.  At Calo we know it is an incredible regulating tool--one that is more effective than lecturing or any "amazing" advice or life experiences that one might desire to impart verbally. Subsequently, touch facilitates new, safe, accepting, and re-wiring (the brain) experiences for Calo students.

About the Author

Landon Kirk, MSW, LCSW Owner, Co-Founder and CEO

Landon has devoted most of the past 18 years working with families and teens. During graduate school, Landon became immersed in the world of adoption and attachment and this became a personal and professional passion of his. Following the completion of his MSW degree in 2003, Landon began working in an adoption agency where his responsibilities were divided between therapy, birth parent and adoptive couple work. Specifically, Landon worked with birth parents struggling with the option to marry, single-parent, or place their child for adoption and provided counseling and resources to help them make their important decision. An adoptive parent of three children himself, Landon also counseled, approved, and placed prospective adoptive families with children. Landon feels very close to many adoptive parents and the shared issues of infertility, longing to have children, and post-adoption issues. In December of 2005, Landon joined West Ridge Academy as a full-time therapist. Within six months he was promoted as the Campus Administrator allowing him to lead all residential employees towards effective treatment practices. In January of 2007, Landon was hired as the Clinical Director and Chief Operations Officer (COO) for CALO. In May of 2012 Landon moved into the role of Chief Clinical Officer (CCO). This position permits Landon to lead CALO Directors and employees responsible for the care and treatment of students in Residential, Recreation Therapy, Canine, Academics, Nursing and Clinical towards cohesiveness and clinical integrity. Landon is originally from Jacksonville, Florida and enjoys many sports and outdoor recreation including football, tennis, basketball, golf, camping, hiking, and fly-fishing. Top on his list of interests is spending time with his wife Jill and their three children (Tanner, Kambrie, and Bryelle). The Kirk's reside in Osage Beach, Missouri.

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