History and roots of Touching Dialogue

By David Kirk-Campbell


Training in Berlin
Touching Dialogue published
Training in Denmark

Conception: The day of conception of Touching Dialogue was the day that I began asking myself, “Who am I and what is my own way of working with clients”. That day was about seven years after I had completed my training as a Rolfer and as a Gestalt and Transactional Analysis psychotherapist. This question led me to schedule an extra fifteen minutes in between each client to write about what happened and what I discovered. This was the beginning of TD.

Rolfing: “The map is not the territory.” These words of Alfred Korzybski, were pressed into my awareness almost every day in my Rolfing training with Dr. Ida P. Rolf. I learned to look at the body and listen to the voice of what my client was actually telling me (the territory) and to drop my own expectations of that client (the map). The body and voice of many of my Rolfing clients signaled to me the wish from their childhood to be accepted, a longing to live with a sense of belonging, a yearning to be touched in a way to experience that someone understood them and accepted them for who they really are. Responding to the wish, longing and yearning of my clients led me to develop a body centered psychotherapy very different from Rolfing, called Touching Dialogue.

Psychotherapy: The Power is in the Patient. This book by Robert Goulding showed me the importance of contracts with clients, meaning - a clear agreement about the goals of therapy. When the goal is reached it is time to either stop therapy or make a new contract.

Healing: to allow the universal healing energy flow through your body as water flowing through a hose without being attached to the result. This teaching from Dora Kunz of the Theosophical Society of New York City has had a profound influence on me and TD. The message was allow for the flow and drop your expectations.

Photography: To look, to see, to receive with your eyes. To allow visual impressions to come into my awareness with a sense of discovery and adventure. This I learned from my Master of Fine Arts training in photography with Harry Callahan of the Rhode Island School of Design. TD meets a client with a sense of discovery and adventure.

Rumi: the poetry of Rumi has been my bedside companion for many years and is an invisible companion to TD sessions. Here is one of my favorites.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep


Martin Buber: I and Thou, and Between Man and Man, encouraged me and TD to accept that there was an extra dimension when two people meet with a close, accepting contact. When there is enough safety two people can simply be together, having contact while each is aware of their own permission to be. TD has the goal to create enough safety within the client so that they can experience their own being without expectation of what to do. From this inner experience of unconditional self-acceptance usually an inner source of energy/motovation is re-discovered that empowers the client’s wish to fulfill their potential.

Søren Kierkegaard: Either/Or confirmed my own experience that our own choices are vital to experiencing meaning in life. This is an underlying principle of TD.


Training in Berlin: From 1985 to 1988, the first training group of 16 people completed their training in TD. From this experience, I learned to think of TD training as a specialization for people who are already trained as psychotherapists or are currently training in psychotherapy.

Touching Dialogue is published 1989: Many readers have told me that reading the book led them to remember the satisfactions and frustrations of their own touch history, something they had seldom thought about. The drawings on this homepage come from the book and were drawn by Michael Sellon.

Training in Denmark: The training is in very small groups, with much individual supervision. It is modeled on a mentor-mentee concept. Teachers are David Kirk-Campbell, founder of TD, and Stefan Green Meinel who completed his TD training in 2002 and became a teacher of TD in 2010.