Chair Massage For PTSD

By Brandon J. Thomas

Traumatic experiences such as war, assault, abuse or devastating loss, can cause post-traumatic stress. Post-traumatic stress affects those who are unable to relegate their traumatic experiences to the past. Trauma survivors often become acutely aware of humans’ inability to control their circumstances. A traumatic experience also reinforces the unsettling notion that life is delicate and can be taken away or permanently altered at any time.

Unfortunately, many who experience severe trauma develop recurring symptoms that have a negative impact on their spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. Many victims of trauma cease to be comfortable in their own bodies. The repeated negative effects that occur as a result of a past trauma can be defined as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Although talking with a counselor or therapist can help to bring the traumatic experience into perspective, the physical manifestations of PTSD can remain. Therapeutic massage is now being used to help those with PTSD to feel more secure and comfortable in their bodies, and help to re-establish proper feelings of closeness and intimacy with others.

The discomfort and anxiety that those with PTSD associate with touch can serve as an obstacle to their acceptance of massage as a form of treatment. It is not uncommon for survivors of assault or abuse to feel vulnerable or ashamed when having to expose their bodies. Chair massage can be extremely useful in such situations, as it does not require the client to disrobe. A chair massage is performed without oils and the short duration of the chair massage session can be a less threatening introduction to therapeutic touch.

Massage conveys encouragement, affirmation, comfort and positivity through touch. Clinical research on the effectiveness of massage therapy for PTSD has increased in the past several years and the analysis of data from recent studies points to the effectiveness of massage on a patient’s delayed evaluation of pain.

Chair massage provides a safe way for clients to appreciate touch and to gradually let go of physical pain. The respectful nature of the client-therapist relationship creates a safe environment in which the recipient knows that they are in complete control. This means that they can change or cease any part of the therapy at will. The client is empowered to take control of the ways in which they prefer to be touched, which allows them to safely experience feelings of intimacy. This can help those with PTSD to put their traumatic experience in the past by helping them to recognize that they can control the present.

Chair massage and full body massage sessions that are methodical and routine can be very reassuring for those with PTSD. Establishing boundaries and goals for each session and splitting the session into distinct phases aids the recipient in their acceptance of healthy touch. The client has the opportunity to recognize feelings that may have surfaced during the session and to begin to process them in a positive manner. Massage can help those with PTSD to be aware of their bodies in the present and to develop a nurturing method of self-care in their daily lives.

PTSD is a complex problem with a host of symptoms that can cause difficulties in the daily lives of those who suffer from it. Massage, performed by a therapist who is educated and respectful of the special needs of trauma survivors can provide comfort and help to foster a sense of hope for those who have been severely impacted by traumatic events.

Brandon Thomas is a nationally certified massage therapist and founder of JoyLife Therapeutics. JoyLife Therapeutics provides chair massage, corporate massage, office massage, special event and trade show massage throughout the US.

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