Touching Lives HALF DAY - DAY 1


Touching Lives HALF DAY - DAY 1


The inner lives of the tiny humans cared for the in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are largely a mystery. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs state we cannot truly evolve as emotionally healthy individuals if our most basic needs are not met. For a newborn infant, those basic needs are physiological, such as safety, food and shelter, and psychological, such as nurture, love and relationships. When those needs are not fulfilled, the infant is left to form interpretations of their world in the extremely altered circumstances present in the NICU and these interpretations will affect the person these infants will become.

Much of the long-term psychological and social ramifications of starting life in a trauma-filled environment are coming to light as research in these fields progresses. The Touching Lives program incorporates this research, and our understanding of human nature, to create a practice that acknowledges the trauma of NICU hospitalization on infants and parents and the huge impact of providing a protective, supportive and healing environment. By understanding the importance of compassion, presence and attunement to the infant, we, as caregivers, are able to provide those life necessities by creating a positive experience that will impact a lifetime.

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Learning Objectives

  1. The learner will understand the interconnection between skin, brain and emotion

  2. The learner will be able to explain the difference between comfort touch and procedural touch


1. Introduction to the largest human organ, the skin

  • Physiology and neurobiology of skin

  • Stress and stress responses, sympathetic, parasympathetic, polyvagal theory

  • Impact of stress on somatic memory

  • Types of touch

2. Psychology of Touch

  • Effects of maternal separation

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)

  • Attunement between infant, parent, caregivers

3. Emotion of Touch

  • Emotional impact of prematurity/hospitalization

  • Critical importance of bonding and attachment

  • Mindful caregiving

 4. Wrap-up

  • Questions

  • Answers

  • My commitment to mindful caregiving