Who on earth am I to talk about trauma?
I am sure some of you have questions as to why a massage therapist would be delving into trauma and the nervous system in these blogs and in my practice. I will give you a little background on me, my education and the goals of my practice Yemaya Massage & Wellness Center.
I have a BA in Psychology and a Licensed Masters in Social Work. I have always had great interest in the reasons behind people’s behaviors and moods. Having experienced a significant loss in my early years, I understood how this can color the way one sees the world. I was a medical social worker for 9 years until obtaining my NYS License in Massage therapy (LMT), at which time I left the world of SW altogether and dove right into bodywork.
I stuck with traditional massage therapy for several years and was content. Then as I began to see the distinct patterns of people’s perceptions and moods reflected in their physical forms. I began revisit my old stomping grounds (and first love) of psychology to pursue forms of bodywork that could address both. I took 3 levels of Craniosacral therapy which includes Somato-emotional release (SER), which finds and adresses restrictions in our physical tissue of both physical and emotional origin. In a safe and quiet environment, this type of bodywork addresses the nervous system and connective tissue directly with gentle hands on work. The goals are to seek out old patterns of physical and emotional restrictions in the clients physical bodies, and to release these restrictions at the clients pace through visualizations, dialog and gentle hands on work. Making the client aware of the connection between trauma and their physical bodies' functioning is the beginning of a wonderful new consciousness for them. The goal is to empower each one of them to embrace the mind and body’s eternal connection. This allows them to see patterns of dysfunction that may have seemed random and terrifying, but in truth are direct result of past trauma and thus can be addressed and released for a better quality of life.
The notion that was can store emotional trauma in our physical tissue astounded me. I began to seek out Continuing Education credits in latest research on neuroscience, including neuroplasticity (the brains amazing ability to redirect neural pathways), trauma and its direct impact on our nervous systems. In other words, I took a deep dive into our coping mechanisms. I was seeing in real time these things play out in my clients. Most importantly I was seeing through scientific research how our nervous systems reprise trauma for us without our conscious knowledge. I learned that simply creating a safe and consistent relationship with a practitioner could be the building blocks for a traumatized person to begin the journey to a healthier life. I learned that the human body and mind are built to survive, and even the most dysfunctional coping mechanisms have the same goals as the healthy ones: to soothe and comfort us when we feel we are in danger. I learned that our bodies can send signals that we are in danger even when our conscious minds are unaware. I learned that until we traumatized souls can reconnect to our physical forms, our minds and bodies will function autonomously. This inevitably disrupts our physical and emotional health and thus our daily quality of life. I have gone into the science of this in past posts. If you want a wonderful read about it explained by the brilliant Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, pick up his book “the Body Keeps the Score.”
This is how I got here. These are my goals for my clients. In truth, we have all been though some form of trauma, albeit some more impactful than others. We all need to listen to our bodies more consistently, so that they do not have to scream and throw a tantrum in order for us to pay attention. Because once we are in the tantrum phase, recovery becomes much more challenging.