While there are many different schools of thought on trauma release, there are some practices out there that do more harm than good. It is easy to get caught up in the elements of trauma release, thinking you have found the holy grail of bodywork, but if we are not careful, we can traumatize the very people we are trying to help.
Recently, I watched a video of a trauma release practice that claimed retraumatization was not a major concern. The moral to the story that I got from this video, was that you really can’t re-traumatize people while doing bodywork. This is simply not true. If you are not careful and you do not pick up on the subtle moments when your client is disassociating, you can very likely be subjecting them to the cycle of abuse and trauma they experienced.
Disassociate In Healing Sessions
Most likely a person who has been traumatized in their life, will disassociate when attempting to go into their body and heal. While someone may get the client to go through various movements, shaking, trembling, and emotional release, unless there is dissipation with the client actively engaged in the process, nothing positive is happening. It may give the appearance of something happening, but more often than not, it is a temporary effect, not a long lasting change of awareness and consciousness in the individual.
A person in your healing care may very likely go through the movements and everything that you ask of them, giving you a false impression that you are making progress. This is passive participation. On the other hand, if you get the person engaged in the process and watch for signs of dissociation or triggers, then this would be active participation. Active participation in in effect when the person is connected to their body through the felt sense to their mind. The client is then able to actively rewire the neural pathways of trauma. If a person is a passive participant, they have little control over the situation and essentially can take themselves through the never-ending cycle of abuse and trauma that they experienced. An active participant has control over the situation, so that they can find an alternative solution to repeating the cycle of abuse.
Trauma Release Is An Innate Process
Trauma release is an innate process that does involve movement. If we are not careful though, points can be stimulated in the body (such as the psoas muscle) to invoke a release or response. This is an overly simplistic approach because it only uses one aspect of true trauma resolution, which is spontaneous movement with muscle activation (using the psoas muscles as an example). From my training, I learned that the psoas muscle is a point of activation that can often bring out emotions. It is generally a place where you will see great activation in people who have been sexually traumatized. However, as I stated previously, just because you are able to elicit emotions, movement, shaking and trembling, does not mean you are helping someone to heal.
Individual Is An Active Participant
The more the individual is an active participant in the process, and the more the therapist or healer understands how to spot subtle triggers and disassociation, healing can occur in powerful ways. The key is being able not only to allow the activation of trauma, but to be able to help the client move through it on the table so that it brings lasting change and a greater awareness and consciousness.
The innate process of trauma release and movement is a built-in system within the body. If activated correctly, it can bring us deep healing and peace in our lives. Knowing and understanding how to work with the body is the key to this innate process. Understanding yourself and conquering your own fears and traumatic experiences allows you to be there with another person in a way that is healing to them.
Thank you to Dr. Paul Canali for helping teach these concepts to me and for his assistance in formulating these words. To learn more about Dr. Paul Canali, visit his website at www.evolutionaryhealinginstitute.com/