Exploring massage as a complementary therapy for managing symptoms of trauma
The team at Nimbus Massage recently hired Hannah Bohn, MSW, a local mental wellness professional, to teach the staff a clinically-oriented class on PTSD and trauma. By expanding our knowledge base, we can better attune our sessions to our clients who have gone through a traumatic event. The root of helping people with their massage goals comes from understanding what people experience. Although research has just begun to explore how massage may help ease symptoms, we believe that massage can help survivors of trauma and people who live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.*
The power of positive caring touch with the intention of healing can help people. Massage can help people find calm and centering. It can brighten someone’s mood. It can help people feel more attuned to and connected with themselves and their bodies. It can ease tension and uneasiness. And can relieve pain. All things that can help people dealing with PTSD or trauma. Indeed, a strong correlation exists between chronic pain, anxiety, and depression– things which massage can improve– and PTSD.
Those who have undergone dangerous, violent, scary, and stressful events may need a little extra care or have specific goals related to their experience. Our staff is willing and able to make accommodations in order to provide a safe space for healing to occur. Some examples may include:
- Only having very specific areas of the body touched- or starting with one or two and gradually introducing more areas of the body (or not).
- Focusing on calming techniques.
- Having specific pressure or pacing requests.
- Avoiding or adding techniques based on comfort.
- Starting with touch only and “working up” to massage.
- Having a lot of communication before, during, and after a session.
- Needing non-traditional positioning.
- Remaining fully clothed.
- Changing the music or having no music.
- Incorporating grounding techniques if necessary.
Our goal is to make each session comfortable, welcoming, and effective. The client is in control of what happens during their massage.
Some of the things our team will not do as part of a massage include:
- Actively try to elicit a specific emotional response.
- Try to recreate a traumatic event.
- Engage in counseling.
- Keep working without getting permission if the person on the table is showing signs of distress or strong emotion.
- Tell a client to try to tough it out through something uncomfortable.
Kassia and Robin, in particular, are working toward specializing in massage for PTSD and trauma. They will build upon their prior experience providing massage for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Chronic Pain.
*We recognize the effort to move towards the term Post Traumatic Stress Injury instead of Disorder, but to keep things simple we have opted to use the more popular term here.