Trauma survivors, whether the trauma is emotional or physical, often struggle with emotions, memories, anxiety, stress, and even physical pain, often for a prolonged period of time. These feelings can leave them isolated and scared, making them shy away from other people. But connecting with others may actually help trauma survivors heal. One way to connect is through massage therapy.
Traumas such as PTSD, assault, car accidents, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, or major surgeries can cause physical and psychological stress, depression, anxiety, and moodiness in survivors. Massage therapy, when performed by a trauma-informed therapist, can be helpful in alleviating some of those symptoms. A trauma-informed massage therapist is a licensed massage therapist who is trained in promoting a feeling of safety, healing, and consent. They have a deep understanding of the trust and comfort levels that must exist during a massage session for a trauma survivor.
The massage therapist and the client should always begin with a conversation so the massage therapist understands the nuances of the trauma. Because of their propensity for hypersensitivity, a trauma survivor may not benefit from the same types of stimuli often associated with the basics of a massage like aromatherapy and background music or sounds. Some are also likely more comfortable staying clothed and remaining face-up during the massage. Consent should always be granted by the client at each step of the massage so as not to trigger a flashback or unwanted memory during the session.
The benefits a trauma survivor receives from massage can be extremely helpful in his or her healing process. Massage can decrease stress hormones, provide comfort, boost mood, increase circulation, relieve pain, and release tense muscles. Massage therapy may even help clients with trauma take control of their emotions, receive human touch, and feel safe and respected.
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