Professional snuggling: yes, it’s a real job. We explain what it consists of

Her name is Christina Hepburn and her profession: professional snuggler (professional cuddler, in English). This American of Colombian origin – her mother is from Cali – she resides in Los Angeles, California, and she has been practicing this unusual craft for about five years that focuses on calming the nervous system through caresses.

But in addition to physical contact, Hepburn offers containment: the possibility of releasing stress through contact.

“The job is to create a safe place to communicate. The more you do this hugging practice, the more your body relaxes and feels truly present in the immediate space. And you feel more connected with your neighbor, with the people. Which creates a calmer behavior and regulates your nervous system,” explains Hepburn in an interview with Noticias Telemundo.

Christina Hepburn offers professional snuggle services. In the image, the scene from one of her sessions.

But there are limits. It is a legal profession because it does not involve any sexual exchange: that is something that is made clear by the regulations and codes of conduct of companies that offer these types of services, such as Cuddlist or Cuddle Confort, to name just two, which also offer training and a list of snugglers to choose from.

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“There is general agreement among those who practice this craft that this is platonic and that there is no sexual contact, unlike what many might imagine,” explains Hepburn. That’s why she usually makes a prior phone call in which she makes it clear what is allowed and what is not. And also detect if a client is expecting something that goes beyond what was stipulated. Taking into account that she often cuddles her clients in a bed, and even meets them in her own home, it is imperative that in that first meeting the rules are made clear for her protection.

Although you do not need a license to practice this trade, it is more similar to the service that someone who gives massages would offer, for example.

What does it consist of and what is it for?

It basically consists of giving hugs and snuggling to whoever requests it, in different ways. Achieve a comfortable and safe environment in which the person feels contained.

“It is key that the client feels safe with you and knows that you are going at their pace and know what they are comfortable with,” explains Hepburn. “And that he can trust that I can set limits and know what I am comfortable with and what I am not comfortable with. They can ask questions or talk honestly about something they want or don’t want: ‘Could you touch my foot? No, I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Do you like it like this or do you prefer some modification?’ It is key to be able to have conversations of that type, until we find a place where we are both comfortable.”

Hepburn used to do stand-up comedy: He worked as an artist and had a podcast, until one day he decided he wanted to do something real, “put skin in the game,” to help people. Her clients are men and women of all ages, single and married: they range from people who are dealing with grief or loss, to someone who simply loves touch and needs it to stay healthy.

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Pay for a hug

Why is there this need? “Because we thrive on contact and interaction with others,” psychologist Héctor Urdaneta explains to Noticias Telemundo.

“Oxytocin is the hormone that creates pleasure for us, it is the one that makes us most attached to life (…) It can be produced because we associate that hug with the pleasure of being loved, the pleasure of being contained, as we call it. in psychology,” says the specialist. “Containment is someone collecting your emotions and containing them like a container. So, when someone hugs you, they are containing you, they are containing what you are, your emotions, what is happening to you. And all that discharge produces these hormones, which give us pleasure. Because we also associate it with being loved, with being valued.”

“I believe that loneliness can lead people to seek this type of service, but I would particularly recommend it in small doses. I believe that the person who is lonely has to go to therapy and review why they are alone and that person has to resolve why they are alone if they are alone, why it is difficult for them to establish deep relationships with people. We have to see why she finds it difficult. What is happening with her?” concludes the expert.