Trauma-informed massage therapy
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a response that some people can have as a result of experiencing, witnessing or hearing about a deeply distressing event. Such events can include actual or threatened death, serious injury, sexual violence, emotional abuse, natural disasters, car crashes, assaults or some other type of significantly shocking event. A stress response to trauma is normal and this can include things like nightmares, flashbacks,
difficulty relaxing or concentrating, mood or appetite changes, not wanting to socialise, and avoiding anything related to what happened. PTSD is diagnosed when post-traumatic symptoms last longer than a month and cause significant difficulties in everyday functioning. According to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) two thirds of New Zealanders will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives that has the potential to develop into PTSD.
In my practice I've noticed an increase in the number of clients who disclose PTSD in their health history. It is important that as a massage therapist I am able to work sensitively, compassionately and appropriately with people with PTSD. The most recent issue of MNZ Magazine is focused on trauma-informed massage therapy and I've contributed two articles to this issue. One is a piece that I wrote in conjunction with a client I have been working with. It includes a wonderfully insightful lived experience account from them, and a clinical reflection from me. The other piece, an anatomy and physiology article on the 'triple network' - the brain networks involved in PTSD, is informed by some of the fascinating neurobiology literature I have been delving into over the course of my neurobiology of pain paper.
I'm sharing them here for anyone interested in reading. I hope you find them interesting and insightful.