Marseilles. Gaelle heals with hugs: “It’s not a dating club here”

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The 1h30 cuddle sessions in Marseille cost 15 euros.
The 1h30 cuddle sessions in Marseille cost 15 euros. (©Bérénice VASAK / News Marseille)

“The hug is water”, attacks Gaelle Marinier. For the one who embraces Marseille with a vengeance, this embrace is vital for the human being.

The session of cuddle therapy offered every month by this art therapist lasts 1h30. It is necessary to count 15 euros to participate. And if Gaelle decided to embark on such a specific practice, it was following an observation.

Democratize the hug

The one that the body needs to get back to basics: “Love, contact, gentleness and capacity”. Gaelle specifies that this observation has been amplified with the Covid crisis, where the instructions for social distancing have widened an already present gap between people.

I realized, in my accompaniments, that people were sorely lacking in sweetness and tenderness. And then one day I said to myself: hugs are life! You have people in session who tell you: But I’ve never been touched in my life in fact. I had no dad, no mom, no one to give me affection.”

Gaelle MarinerArt therapist

Cuddle sessions are framed by Gaelle. First, the participants empty their bags and talk about their injuries emotional or physical. Then, they stroll in music in the room. Then comes the moment when, those who wish, take each other in their arms.

Participants aged 20 to 90

No typical profile on the side of the participants. If not a form of open-mindedness. “They are between 20 and 90 years old, and come from Marseille and elsewhere,” says Gaelle.

On the other hand, Gaelle identifies that many are those who have gone through difficult phases such as episodes of burnout or of depression.

Practicing the ethical hug

“It’s not a dating club here,” recalls Gaelle, who insists on the importance of laying the foundations. “Malicious people have already told me: hugs, that is to say?? » she underlines.

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This is why she conducts a telephone interview with the participants beforehand. She wants to check that they are compatible with a climate of kindness.

A fairly regulated therapy?

She also talks about the importance of consent in the sessions: “The participant can stop at any time to stand back and observe”.

The art therapist specifies that you don’t need a particular diploma to practice cuddle therapy. She graduated as an art therapist. This allows him to have bases, in psychology notably.

Mistrust among some professionals

She would now like the practice to be more supervised and above all, that the hug be reimbursed by the social Security. Because she notes that in certain establishments where she works for art therapy (EHPAD and hospitals in particular), health professionals are much more suspicious when it comes to hugs.

“We can pass for puppets, it’s a shame”. Some doctors consider the practice too blurrynot enough regulated.

Gaelle, Marseille and hugs

Gaelle Marinier exercises art therapy for five years now. From her office located on Avenue du Prado (8th), she centralizes all her activities: care through art, dance, or cuddling.

And it is in Marseille, in this city where she spent part of her childhood, that she intends to continue her journey and develop in the coming years.

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