Healing Trauma Through Touch
I'm currently reading the book, "The Body Keeps the Score", by Bessel Van De Kolk M.D. At first I thought, "This book will give me some valuable insights on how to support my clients that have experienced trauma." As I work my way through the chapters I feel the traumas and micro-traumas rearing their ugly heads. "Ah deeper healing is needed here." I immediately begin searching for a psychotherapist to "unpack" these traumas so that I can continue to heal yet another layer. As I continue this healing journey I realize the power of combining talk therapy with physical touch. The title of the book said it "The Body Keeps the Score" or as we lovingly said in massage school, "The Issues in the Tissues."
Touch and trauma have a powerful link in the sense that, after experiencing trauma, we’re often too alert to permit anyone from coming too close physically when, in reality, our subconscious wants to feel that closeness. The key is to allow yourself to relax through non-invasive physical interaction before forcing yourself to do anything more than that.
Massage as a Tool:
Let your massage therapist know if you're healing from trauma or if you would like a gentle, relaxing, and comforting massage. Although massage can release muscle tension, those healing from trauma don’t necessarily need massages for relieving tight muscles– they need to feel that gentle physical connection somewhere where they feel it’s currently safe.
Reiki as a Tool:
Reiki is another powerful option in healing from trauma. One of the benefits of Reiki for those healing from trauma is that it is done fully clothed. This can be a wonderful way of introducing light non-invasive touch that is comforting and safe that begins to remind the body that touch can feel good. Let your Reiki practitioner know your goals for the session and any particular traumas that you are healing from.
What to know about your session:
You have a voice: Let your therapist know if you are triggered or uncomfortable at any point during the session so that they can adjust their pressure and technique.
Your comfort is important: Let your therapist know if there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable. This can be anything from adjusting the music volume, dimming or turning the lights up, adjusting the table heater, getting an additional pillow, more or less blankets etc.
Both Reiki and Massage activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the body's natural healing system. When activated, we are taken out of the sympathetic nervous system state "fight or flight" and are brought into a relaxed state of "rest and digest." This is the state where our body's natural healing systems can kick-in.
When a person healing from trauma accepts this physical connection, the recovery process becomes embodied. This is an important aspect of regaining power over your body and emotions , when you have been disempowered through a traumatic experience. Touch and trauma have a very deep and complex connection, especially in the case of a patient who suffered physical abuse. As humans, we biologically crave and strive from physical, human touch, but we don’t necessarily know that when we’re in an alert state. Gentle massage and Reiki can both be wonderful ways to reintroduce touch and help the body to relax again.
We highly recommend seeking the support of a counselor, psychotherapist or EMDR therapist in conjunction with Reiki and/Massage for a total mind-body connection.
What to expect in a Massage Therapy session. Learn more
What to expect in a Reiki session. Learn more
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