The first cuddle clinic in Amsterdam

Added On February 25, 2015

Sometimes a hug is better than any words.

In the Netherlands, a Dutch lady opened the first and the only cuddle therapy to comfort everyone in need.

LIFESTYLES has the story.

The 39-year old therapist Carollyne Tjong Ayong had worked for about 20 years, first as a private nurse, and later a massage therapist.

From her work experience she noticed that there were many people in need of extra touches.

That's why in the beginning of 2015 she opened her one-woman cuddle therapy business in Amsterdam, bringing this brand new idea to her countryman from its original place- the US.

SOUNDBITE 1 (English): CAROLLYNE TJONG AYONG, Hugging therapist

“Lepeltje Lepeltje is my company name and it means spooning in English. It's the way spoons are positioned in the cupboard. And that's exactly what I do with my clients.”


   Carollyne: Hi, it's nice that you come. Oh, how cold the outside is. Come here and give me a hug. 

   Brum: Oh, it's comfortable. 

   Carollyne: It's comfortable, isn't it? 

SOUNDBITE 2 (English): CAROLLYNE TJONG AYONG, Hugging therapist

   There is the situation in the world that people need to be touched, they need to be held. There is a lot of stress and a lot of work going on and also time pressure. With me you can relax and be yourself. 


   Carollyne: Here you go. 

   Brum: I would like to sit on the left side. 

   Carollyne: Let's squeeze a bit.

   Brum: Oh yes, Let's do it. 

   Carollyne: We intertwined into each other. 

              Are you comfortable this way?

   Brum: Yes. 

According to Carollyne, the cuddle therapy is still a new idea in the world, three cuddle therapy providers in the US, one in Canada, and one in Europe. 

SOUNDBITE 4 (English):  SANDER KOOLE, Psychology Professor, Free University Amsterdam 

“Touch is one of our most important senses. Actually your skin is considered the largest organ of your body. I do think that in our modern society, touch has become rare. You can just call people, or write to them, write them an email. You can do anything online. So it does seem that the interpersonal touch is getting scarce.It is the case that as social animals, as mammals, we respond very positively to touch. So if you take that away, it feels like an impoverishment.So in a sense you can think of this as a way to enrich your sensory experiences. “

If this impoverishment is generally felt by everyone partaking in the modern style of living, Carollyne’s practice is also open for anyone. 

Soundbite 6 (English): CAROLLYNE TJONG AYONG, Hugging therapist

“I have patients in different ages. I have students who are in their beginning 20s, because they are very busy and stressed in studying and working and need some time to relax. But there is also the people who have lost the partner, the elderly people. Sometimes handicapped people or autistic people. I also have single parents, that have to care for their children and are very busy working and they need some time for themselves. So I also see them in my practice or at their homes.” 

Carollyne’s one therapy session lasts normally half an hour, in which the client can choose from hugging, massage, or even watching a movie together. 

All activities involving intimate body contacts, but should not contain any sexual indications.  

There is obviously the need of getting extra touches for many people, according to the cuddle therapist.

However, if the hugging therapy will be an effective solution to the need is still an open question.

Soundbite 7 (English): SANDER KOOLE, Psychology Professor, Free University Amsterdam 

“Scientifically speaking, it's very unclear. The hugging therapy is something you can do if you are into it, if you like it, if you think it's fun. But I don't think we can really say we can prescribe it to people as a kind of medicine, because you need more evidence to conclude that. 

There actually has been surprisingly little research on touch. It's only in the last 10 years or so that people are studying this more in psychology and in other sciences. In the same time, just because it is new and it has never been studied before doesn't mean it has to be bad. So we cannot really say if it is bad or good. I think you just have to determine for yourself.”

According to Professor Koole, the hugging therapy might suggest a new way how people in the modern society are trying to reconnect with each other. However, only the touch is not enough. 

Soundbite 8 (English): SANDER KOOLE, Psychology Professor, Free University Amsterdam 

 “Getting only the touch is for most people not enough, maybe very briefly you feel better. But in the long run you want something more, something more meaningful.”