Abstract The prohibition of touch in psychiatry has multiple origins. The most prominent advocate for an interdiction on touch has been Sigmund Freud and the legacy of psychoanalysis. Scientism, dualism, and medicolegal concerns have also promoted a touch taboo in psychiatry. However, it is evident that non-sexual physical touch is vital for human health; studies of touch in children and adults have shown numerous health benefits physically and psychologically. A discussion of ethical principles in light of the use of touch in psychiatry is provided. Several theoretical paradigms do utilize touch in treating patients and are reviewed including the medical model, body-psychotherapies, and osteopathic medicine. The osteopathic philosophy provides a lens through which the osteopathic physician both assesses and provides rational treatment to the patient. In addition to this philosophy, osteopathic physicians are extensively trained in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Osteopathic physicians have treated patients with psychiatric disorders with OMT and other treatments for nearly 150 years. The unique osteopathic model of care contrasts with the long-standing prohibition of touch with psychiatric patients and thereby provides a rational approach to the use of touch in psychiatry. The reasoned recommendations for osteopathic psychiatrists using touch clinically include consent, context, and competency considerations.

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