Haptonomy was founded in the 1960s by Dutch researcher Frans Veldman (1921-2010) – he called it “the science of affectivity”. The word haptonomy derives from the Greek hapsis, and refers to both the tactile sense and the affective contact by which one is intimately close with oneself and with others. Haptonomy means theory of hapsis, or the science of affective contact.
The specific applications of haptonomy to paramedical practices are aimed at enhancing the patient’s well-being through reinforcing and intensifying his or her self-experience of completion and the quality of their contact and presence with their environment and with other people.
Haptonomy relies on its phenomenology – observed clinical effects that can be reproduced, measured and anticipated – for its therapeutical approach. One of its mains tools is psychoaffective contact, where a person is taken into account globally (incorporating his or hers affective faculties and his or hers rational ones), via the capacity to reach out through space to someone else, beyond one’s own self.
The aim of the practice is to open the approachee’s (the “patient”) dormant faculties and build up a sensed experience and foundation of security and completeness, leading to a feeling of deep joy for life and autonomy to undertake anything that is aligned with the individuals authentic essence, even when circumstances (like sickness or impairments) add their own limits (as opposed to the limitations of our essence that we find and build in ourselves and that we work on).
Because haptonomy involves a new way of existing to the world and being present to it (to oneself and to others) in perpetual complete openness and intimacy (where an aggression is no longer affecting the person, independently of the nature of the former), haptonomy applies to any human approach, from education to care. Being a pluridisciplinar approach, Haptonomy has chosen to build up on existing therapies in order to complement them, among which the more significant are:
Pre and post natal haptonomy : a pregnancy accompaniment that can be complimented by pre-pregnancy haptonomy.
Haptosynesis: an application of haptonomy for those who face strong physical limitations (confined to bed, pain, sickness, etc…).
Haptopsycotherapy : a form of assistance and counseling aiming at helping the person establish, restore or develop their psychoaffective health (existential malaise, etc…).