Massage & Mental Health: Therapeutic Touch after Trauma

The medical definition of the word trauma is ‘Physical injury’, or, ‘A deeply distressing or disturbing experience’. Often, someone who has experienced physical trauma may experience residual pains and poor posture from muscle memory, or, from the emotional, or psychological response which can follow physical trauma, given the circumstances and severity. A survivor of physical trauma (which can range from car accidents to surgeries to abuse to war) can have a long and arduous journey of healing ahead. Frequently long after physical wounds have healed, trauma is still present. Therapeutic Massage can help you along your journey. Licensed Massage Therapist are genuinely grateful to be part of and aiding in your individual healing process. As mentioned in previous posts, the mind-body connection is strong-when the physical body is injured, the emotional can very much be affected and reflect in the physical, and so on. This process can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD and more.


As an introduction to the very broad and multifaceted subject of trauma, I’d like to start by saying that I, and every Licensed Massage Therapist I have ever worked with, understands the apprehension a client with past trauma may have with touch in general, let alone therapeutic massage. A session of 30, 60 or 90 minutes of continuous touch can be daunting. You’ve spent time healing, you don’t want to get hurt again, or maybe you don’t trust that you will not get hurt again. Trust, or rather the lack of trust, is an extremely common theme following trauma and traumatic events for a survivor. Therapeutic Massage may help you to trust again.

Something that an instructor said to my class in Massage School was “We use our hands only for good.” This stayed with me, because it is true in every Licensed Massage Therapist I have ever known. We use our hands for good, for healing, for helping you to feel better and your best.

Think of the massage room and table as a safe place. A level of trust is required for you to feel at ease and allow yourself to relax. Easier said than done, I know. If you have suffered from trauma, this may take a few sessions before you are able to become comfortable, and that is ok. We understand and are non-judgmental. An open dialogue is important between you and your Licensed Massage Therapist. While every client must fill out a health history form as part of the in-take process, it is not necessary for a client to disclose any details or information about a personal trauma other than what you are or are not comfortable with regarding your session and massage. Licensed Massage Therapist respect your personal boundaries and comfort levels. We encourage you to speak up. If you would like to end your session early, you feel more comfortable being fully clothed during the session, there are areas that you do not want to be worked on, you want a change in pressure or focus area during your session, etc. please tell us. Therapeutic massage and your session is not something you must endure We want you to embrace, to let go, to take a deep breath and relax as much as possible to further your healing. You, the client, have so much control in your session, it is your time, and your LMT is here to accommodate your personal/unique issues and needs for the most effective session. No massage is the same. If the only place you are comfortable being touched is your scalp, your LMT will spend the duration of your session addressing only the scalp and maybe (if comfortable) adding some breath direction in to help facilitate relaxation, body awareness and trust.

The several benefits of therapeutic massage are outstanding. Gaining and regaining trust in people, in touch, in my opinion is one of the many benefits, especially if you have experienced trauma or a traumatic event. Don’t underestimate the power of positive touch and how therapeutic massage can help you through your healing journey.