Health & Wellness

Trauma Informed Massage Therapy

September 22, 2022

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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Wondering if trauma informed massage is right for you?

Ever feel like the pain and tension in your body won’t easily go away? Or it keeps coming back? Or does it resolve itself only to show up somewhere else? 

This might be an indication that you should explore trauma informed bodywork care. 

Trauma is becoming a well known topic and so many more people are realizing that they may have experienced trauma that is having an effect on their life, and their body. From car accidents, to divorce, it’s showing up everywhere. 

Not sure if you fall in that category? 

Trauma is  defined as an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster by the American Psychological Association. 

Most importantly, people often react and process the same traumatic event differently and this has a lot to do with past trauma and how resilient your nervous system is. 

I have a friend who had a very traumatic childhood. One that she had shared experiences with her brother. These experiences continued to affect her deeply for many years, however, her brother had no recollection of many of the events. He seemed to have buried them away, and when discussed would often look at her with blank stares. 

This doesn’t by any means imply that he was not affected, or was not traumatized in some way. It’s an example of the different ways trauma is processed by two people having gone through the same trauma.  

Although my skill set is still growing there are things that I incorporate into my practice currently that are trauma informed, and I know this list will grow in the next year or two as I continue to shift my work and my knowledge on the subject grows. 

Now is a great time to state that I am not a mental health professional/therapist or training to be one, so for more information I would recommend visiting with one.

 I am a bodyworker, and continue to educate myself on how I can support and create space for the healing of individuals who have endured trauma and the effects on the body. Especially when it continues to hold them back in life, and show up in their body. 

When I have a client who’s discussing something traumatic, or reflecting on anything that’s beyond my scope, my role is to simply listen. It helps me understand how they process and potentially store trauma in their body, so that I can do the work I’m trained to do.  

I also check in to ensure they have a mental health practitioner they are working with, so they can use talk therapy with the appropriate person. 

Using both of these avenues for trauma is key if you ask me. There is a lot that can surface during a bodywork session, and ensuring that you are working with someone to work through those things is important. 

Having experienced numerous traumatic events throughout my life, this work is meaningful and important to me. It’s something I’ll continue to focus on in my practice, and move towards fine tuning my own skill in order to serve others in the release of trauma stored in the body. 

Massage is becoming such an important part of wellness routine’s, from pain management to stress reduction. What needs additional awareness is the continued self care part, outside of sessions. Addressing the cause, and when it comes to trauma it’s no different. 

Here are some of the ways I currently practice trauma informed care:

  • I always start a new client on their back. Unless requested otherwise, I don’t typically start anyone face down. This allows them to acclimate themselves to their surroundings, look at me if they’d like to when I enter the room, and give them more control of the environment and their senses. 

  • I give a thorough explanation and/or play by play of what will and is happening in their time with me. Certainty, information, and understanding helps us feel safer. Without any explanation of what to expect, anxiety can arise in order to keep us on guard for going into the unknown, especially when we’re vulnerable. And what’s more vulnerable than removing clothing items in a foreign room, with a stranger coming to work on you?!

  • I ask, and try not to assume anything. I have certain things that I do to help with comfort and relaxation, like place an eye cover on a client.  However, it could leave someone feeling uncomfortable and although I use this as a means to help relax people by blocking out light, I don’t want to assume everyone wants it, so I ask. 

  • I undrape only areas I am working on. If there is a part of the body that may be more vulnerable, or I sense that a client is tensing, I check in. 

With rising numbers in trauma – now estimated to be about 70% of people, these things seem like non-negotiables. 

All Body Workers should be trauma informed. 

Maya Angelo says, “when we know better, we do better.” And more and more massage therapist’s are starting to recognize that they should be trauma informed. There’s so much that can be learned about trauma, and incorporated into massage sessions. But, the reality is that it can be so simple. Like some of the small things I listed above, for starters – they go a long way. 

If you’re looking for trauma informed care, you can typically find something listed on a therapists website. Otherwise, shoot over a message and ask. It’s worth the time and care. 

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