Big Ideas: “Use Cuddle Therapy to address many health issues” With Rebekka Mikkola CEO of Nordic Cuddle

Christina D. Warner
Feb 25 · 9 min read

Oxytocin is released when we cuddle, which is known as the bonding and trust hormone. As such, there is always a risk that an emotional attachment can form during sessions. When we think about medicine, we appreciate that it has side effects and this is the main side effect for cuddle therapy. However, we try to mitigate this by suggesting our clients book sessions with different practitioners to prevent any emotional attachments forming. We also point out that cuddle therapy should never take the place of counselling, mental health or other medical services, and those should always be sought by a person whenever they are required.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebekka Mikkola, Founder of Nordic Cuddle. Rebekka is an industry leading entrepreneur and the visionary founder of Nordic Cuddle, a cuddle therapy company which provides restorative cuddle sessions within the wellness industry. Her strategic mindset and analytical skills have enabled her to capitalise on a niche market and create one of the fastest growing cuddle therapy companies in London. She is a qualified cuddle therapist and massage therapist, who has represented Nordic Cuddle in numerous media features for outlets including GQ Magazine, Sky News, The Guardian, BBC Radio 4, Business Insider, Heart FM London, Elite Daily, ARD, Holistic Health Magazine and Balance Magazine. In 2018, she launched her public speaking career with a talk about how to succeed as an entrepreneur for an audience in London.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I come from a touch-deprived society and my eyes were opened to the power of touch when I met my Ecuadorian sister-in-law, who is from a highly tactile culture. It was also around this time that I heard that cuddle therapy was booming in the US. I became intrigued with cuddle therapy from the outset and started researching touch and how important it is for our wellbeing. In western countries like the UK and the US, we are living through a touch deprivation crisis and a stigma has arisen around touch. I instinctively felt this was something I wanted to address, and I trained as a cuddle therapist before founding Nordic Cuddle. Since then, we’ve had interest from around the world in cuddle therapy and have developed a training programme for people who are interested in this career path. In less than a year, we’ve trained ten practitioners and more than 45 others are signed up to the programme.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the most exciting things about being a pioneer in a new field, is that you have the opportunity to shape the industry. A few months ago, we were approached by a law company who’d heard of us and felt that cuddle therapy could prove useful for clients suffering from stress. We were delighted to hear this, and couldn’t have been happier to enter into a referral partnership with them. Since then we’ve formed another partnership with a very complementary organisation in the wellness sector and look forward to future partnerships, as more people hear about cuddle therapy and the benefits it provides.

Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Western societies are experiencing profound challenges to deal with a range of health problems. These include increasing mental health issues, stress and loneliness.

I believe that cuddle therapy can be part of a wider solution in tackling all of these issues. Scientific studies have shown that human touch has multiple benefits for our health, including decreased blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. Through cuddles, we may also see an improvement in our mood and overall outlook on life.

When looking at the example of stress, a UK report released last year showed that one in three people were left feeling suicidal and one in six had self-harmed as a result of stress. Cuddles help lower our cortisol levels while boosting oxytocin, thereby helping us feel more calm and relaxed and thereby able to more effectively manage stress in our life.

We’re therefore looking to introduce cuddle therapy to the world, and have already built one of the fastest growing cuddle therapy companies in London. Our vision is to create a global platform for anyone to access cuddle therapy whenever they need it.

How do you think this will change the world?

As a social species, we all need touch to thrive. This was perfectly illustrated when Jim Burke, a former CEO of Johnson & Johnson spoke to the world leading touch expert, Dr Tiffany Field, and said that he believed there would be fewer wars and less disease in the world if we had more touch in our lives.

Touch has the power to change us in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Through our cuddle sessions, we provide a sense of connection with trained practitioners in a safe and comforting environment. This feeling of having someone to care and listen to us is extremely empowering. When London-based Balance Magazine, tried one of our cuddle sessions they said, “If you’re feeling imbalanced, it’s a place to go to return to calm and serenity.”

That sense of connecting meaningfully with someone, while leaving behind our daily worries is something very special, and we believe it could improve the wellbeing of countless people across the world.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Oxytocin is released when we cuddle, which is known as the bonding and trust hormone. As such, there is always a risk that an emotional attachment can form during sessions. When we think about medicine, we appreciate that it has side effects and this is the main side effect for cuddle therapy. However, we try to mitigate this by suggesting our clients book sessions with different practitioners to prevent any emotional attachments forming. We also point out that cuddle therapy should never take the place of counselling, mental health or other medical services, and those should always be sought by a person whenever they are required.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

While I had observational evidence about the lack of touch in western cultures, it wasn’t until I began researching the scientific basis that I realised how powerful it could be and how much it’s missing from our lives. We are living in touch deprived societies and this is having a profound impact on our wellbeing. Touch has almost become a forgotten aspect of our lives and cuddle therapy is the perfect way of addressing this. It was therefore a combination of these factors that led to me becoming a cuddle therapist and founding Nordic Cuddle.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

A lot of scientific research exists about the benefits of touch, but very little has focused on cuddle therapy as it’s such a new form of healing modality. I therefore believe that research about cuddle therapy is much needed and could revolutionise the way people look at the entire industry.

Also due to the fact it’s such a new form of therapy, very few people know that it exists and we’re on a mission to change this. In order to get the message out to as many people as possible, we did around 30 press features last year for select media outlets in the UK, Europe and the US.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Build a quality team. As a solo entrepreneur, I realised how difficult it was to stay motivated when you’re working on your own and trying to focus on multiple tasks at the same time. So I made sure my co-founder was on-board when we set-up Nordic Cuddle as a Limited company. When you have two people with the same drive, determination and vision, things progress at an impressive rate.

The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?

In a world where human touch and connection are being lost, cuddle therapy is potentially a great “future proof” career option. Things like empathy and human touch quite simply can’t be replaced by AI. With touch deprivation and loneliness increasing in many western countries, the need for cuddle therapy is likely to grow considerably in the coming years.

Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?

I would follow through with our current plan of building a global platform with the best possible tech, to ensure we have an industry leading product. I’d also use part of the funding to enhance our training programme, by employing the services of world-leading specialists in psychology and mental health.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Transparency, honesty and simplicity are some of the key values which have shaped my career and life. These values help build trust, upon which everything else rests. I also believe in looking after your team by showing appreciation for the work they do and supporting them as much as possible to help them grow and deliver the best results for the company.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

  • Hard work. There is no substitute for putting in time and effort.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Our modern lives can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, touch-deprived and lonely. Touch is a natural analgesic which is proven to help tackle these issues. At Nordic Cuddle, we provide cuddle therapy which is one of the most effective ways of delivering platonic touch in a safe and comforting space. We’ve developed a training programme for practitioners, who then list their services on our platform. We’re perceived as thought leaders in the industry and are also one of the first cuddle therapy companies in the world to have forged partnerships with complementary organisations. We intend to scale up our operations and take our platform global.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website: www.nordiccuddle.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NordicCuddle/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NordicCuddle

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nordiccuddle/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nordic-cuddle/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Christina D. Warner

Written by

Author of The Art of Healthcare Innovation. Order it at amzn.to/31TBrZM or christinadwarner.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade