One point or another in a session, conversation comes up that may or may not be about what it is that the client is going through that made them seek a professional snuggler in the first place. I've had people that come see me in the middle of ugly divorces, hard weeks at work, issues with their children, cancer with a family member, being a survivor in a fatal car crash, dealing with an emotionally distant friend, and many other seemingly awful circumstances.
Everyone has some dark, horrible things that they go through. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. And it takes a good snuggler to be present with them and soothe them as they work through their situation.
As I've said before, the best snugglers are ones that are empathetic, sympathetic, and able to be a good friend to people in their most vulnerable times. And one thing that is really frustrating about being an empath is not being able to take away all the hurt the people we care for are going through. However, there is a few things that we can do that is even more meaningful for our clients when they're willing to be so vulnerable with us:
1. Say "Thank you for telling me." This is super important for validating that it is okay for them to be vulnerable with you and encourages them to not only be open about how they're feeling in the future, but it encourages them to be willing to open up with others outside of snuggling sessions.
2. Give them a meaningful cuddle/hug/shoulder squeeze, depending on what is appropriate at the time. If it is at the beginning of a session before lying down with your client, a shoulder squeeze might be appropriate. Asking if they would like a hug is also appropriate too (or what I do sometimes because words aren't always what people want to hear in a comfortable silence is open up my arms and cock my head so they know that it's okay to say no to a hug if they don't want it). They came to see you because they were looking for alternative touch therapy. This kind of empathetic touch will help snugglers connect with their clients.
3. Approach questions about the situations with the phrase, "If you don't mind me asking..." This allows you to get them to open up about the situation more and allow you to further empathize, but it also allows them to vocalize their own concerns about the situation. Remember, they may not have opened up to anyone about this. This also gives them an out to not respond to your question. Our job is to make them feel comfortable and safe, and prefacing questions with this allows them to decide if they want to talk about it more than they already have. I HAVE had a client tell me he does not want to talk about it more, and I said, "Okay!" and continued our snuggling without bringing it up again. It wasn't awkward, uncomfortable, or insulting. It just was.
4. If you have some ideas or advice to give, ask them if they would like to hear your thoughts on the situation. I caution with giving advice to clients because they may not be looking for it at the time. Most of their friends probably have given them advice in the past if they have opened up to them, and they may just want someone to listen to them without criticism. Having someone just listen to whatever it is they're going through is rare to find among friends.
Paying attention to this part is important. If they're not coming from a place of wanting to hear ideas or suggestions on how to handle the situation, then nothing you say will help you get through to them even if you have great advice or are a licensed therapist. No matter how dire the situation or how much I believe they need to hear my ideas and suggestions, I always, always, ALWAYS give them the option to not hear it and simply continue our session as we were before.
With all of these things, I always do my best to make sure that my client is comfortable with telling me whatever is on their mind. These sessions are meant to be a safe environment for clients to put their guard down, have someone listen, and empathize with what they are going through.