What limits are there on physical contact between clients and counsellors

The first thing to say is that a sexual relationship between a counsellor and a client is expressly forbidden. The codes of conduct of the professional therapy organisations clearly condemn this, and professionals such as doctors, nurses and social workers are likely to lose their jobs if found guilty of this kind of serious offence. (In some circumstances it can even be punishable by a term in prison.) However, few guidelines are used across the board for less intimate kinds of contact Hugs, briefly holding hands, or even a kiss hello and goodbye are not uncommon with some counsellors. The experience of human warmth and affection may be thought to be very helpful, especially for people who are feeling isolated or abandoned. However, these counsellors would certainly be in the minority. Other counsellors and counsellors would see these actions as improper, because they might lead to confusion about the strictly professional nature of the therapeutic relationship.
Another important consideration (sometimes forgotten by those counsellors who like to be more physical) is that not everyone wants to be touched. It can be tempting for a counsellor to see this as a problem in and of itself, but this is a patronising attitude. Some cultures would see such touch as offensive, and many people dislike having their 'body space' invaded. It does not mean that there has to be something wrong with the person who dislikes this kind of intimacy. It may sound very odd to recommend that you ask a counsellor what his or her beliefs are in this matter. But that may be the only way to ensure that you do not find yourself in an awkward situation later on. Following a discussion, your preference should be clear to both parties.