Haptonomy came into existence in the middle of the 20th century. Its creator, Frans Veldman, born in theNetherlands in 1921 and deceased on January 25, 2010 in France, defines it as "science of affectivity". During the dramatic events of the Second World War he observed the importance of the affectivity in human relations. Once the war ended, he tried ceaselessly to understand scientifically, to theorize and to transferin a specific and lively manner what he had learned during this turbulent period. So he developed a certain approach to the affective interactions between people.
Frans Veldman was a researcher, curious and observant of life's phenomena in the broad sense ever since his early childhood and it would be simplistic to confine haptonomy to the human sciences. Well ahead of his time, his intuitions about the nervous system and the emotions, and more generally everything related to the affective, have been justified in the current development of the neuro and medical sciences.
His most important observation is that the affective confirmation (cf. note 1) is essential for the full development of the potential of the human being, which is latent from the very conception. The experience of confirmation, given to the child right from the bosom with pleasure and confirmation of the Good of their being, contributes to the development of an affective security and self-confidence that will help them face the challenges of life and taste its riches...
He studied and described the human faculties within each and every person, carried since the dawn of time; faculties, developed more or less successfully according to the times, but lost to a great extent by the western societies in their frantic pursuitfor technicality and efficiency.
He was an artist and a true internist interested not only in philosophy, anthropology, psychology, but also in all the areas of the treatment.
He developed a body of theory and practice that is the foundation of the transferring of his discoveries. It is through the teaching of a specific contact, "psychotactile affective confirming contact” (cf. note 2). During training the therapists learn this quality of contact. This learning gradually gets its meaning with the development of the person and their practice. This affective fulfillment is not learned, it develops for each and every one with time and experience.
In the haptonomic approach the sick or suffering person is approached as a whole, they are not reduced to their symptom and this changes everything. These discoveries provoke astonishment andexperiencing them is pleasant.
Haptonomy enriches the therapists in their practice by the quality of the human interactions it offers and most of all by the unsuspected overcoming of the usual rational and functional limitations, made possible by the development of the affective. This approach has a calming, reassuring and if necessary, comforting effect. It increases the person's ability to cope with the pain and the treatment that follows. Indeed, the haptonomic approach results in an immediate change of tonus in all the tissues, changes the quality of the presence and promotes a more active participation in the treatment (cf. note 3).
Haptonomy aims to develop or restore a state of health that allows to feel whole. It uses all the resources of the person, especially their resources of engagement in the world. These resources allow them to stay in touch with their family during major life events and to face hardships such as illness or disability. The help it provides is real. Whatever the intended therapeutic approach, it confirms the person in their being and supports the development of their authentic faculties to accomplish their life course.
Frans Veldman often quoted Martin Buber who used to say that only a society in which we confirmed each other was a human society worthy of the name.
Clearly, far from being another technique in the "toolbox" of the therapist, by bringing the feelings to the foreground, haptonomy is the application of an art of living and dying, while being fully human, to the field of treatment. Simultaneously a source of prevention and therapeutic contribution, the ethical dimension that accompanies its practice is essential. The affective engagement of the therapist in the relation, the quality of their presence and their judgment of what is suitable for the other are its pillars.
Three broad applications in the health care field are proposed by CIRDH:
Le CIRDH-FV est une Association créée par le fondateur de l'haptonomie, Frans Veldman (1921-2010).
C'est à cette association de formation qu'il a confié la transmission de son enseignement à l'exclusion de toute autre formation ou organisme.