I am relatively new to professional cuddling and so far I've only had a few real clients. It's also a bit difficult to put the experience into words because when we talk about "cuddling" as a "healing modality" people want to put up the air quotes. I think that more people know about and accept "light work," and while massage therapy has legitimized through licensure, and reiki or coaching kind of skirt that system with dignity, cuddling still gets a "sex work" stink eye.
To be clear, Cuddlist service is NOT ROMANTIC, platonic and totally nonsexual. There is a relationship to be built in much the same way as you don't immediately tell your darkest secret to a new talk therapist, we don't necessarily get all the potential benefits in the first visit. In fact, I book a 15 minute conversation with clients before our first session for free so we don't have to take any time away from what we have scheduled to check in about the basic expectations and intention.
There are a variety of reasons a client might be looking for platonic affection: loneliness, anxiety (social or otherwise), long distance relationships, chronic illness, disability... With all the technology and screen time we use in modern day life, people don't take time for human connections. When is the last time you had a hug?
So after the initial chat, when the client arrives at my place for the first time, we review the rules and we both sign on paper that we understand and agree. The first session can be a bit awkward because we're getting to know each other. I'm going to ask how the client would like to begin and take their lead. This session is for them after all. Every client is different, and the Cuddlist session isn't about judging, it's about asking for what you want! Sometimes I do say "no" if something doesn't feel right for me, and I will end a session immediately if someone is asking for anything that violates Cuddlist Code of Conduct, but that is the exception. There are so many things that a client could ask for which I'd be glad to participate in that I'm sure I couldn't imagine them all, or list them exhaustively if I could.
I have one client who is a young man afflicted with a mental handicap that makes him socially awkward. He has assistance from his loving parents, but a cuddle from mom isn't the same - that doesn't make our sessions any less platonic. He just wants someone to hold and be held by. That seems to be working for both of us!