The Wellbeing Rooms guest blog by Claire Little @ A Little Wellness
What is Trauma?
Many of us will have heard the word “trauma” but may not have a full understanding of the word, or we may not realise that we have experienced trauma in our lives. Mind.org.uk describes trauma as when a person goes through stressful, frightening, or distressing events which can happen at any age and may cause long-lasting harm. During a traumatic event, our usual ways of coping become overwhelmed which can leave us feeling frightened and unsafe. The long-term effects of trauma affect everyone differently. They may lead to post traumatic stress disorder, self-harm, addictions, and mental health problems. Trauma can affect the body as well as the mind. Common physical disorders and symptoms which may occur in people who have experienced trauma can include sleep disorders, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and urological problems.
Through research and working with individuals who have experienced trauma, I believe that massage and complementary therapies can play an important role in a person’s recovery, self-worth, self-esteem and better their overall mental health. However, the biggest barrier for survivors of trauma when seeking complementary therapies is the first appointment. The first appointment brings up many unknowns which can include –
Where am I going?
What is the building like?
What will the room be like?
What will I wear?
How undressed will I have to be?
How many people will see me undressed?
What if I am touched in an area I don’t like to be touched?
What if the therapist judges my body?
What if I don’t know what to do?
What if I get it wrong?
Will I be exposed or covered?
Although all of these worries and unknowns are completely normal, for a person who is dealing with trauma and mental health challenges these can be overwhelming to the point of not making the appointment in the first place. This is where myself and The Wellbeing Rooms come in! I am a trained complimentary therapist with experience working with individuals who have experienced trauma and mental health challenges and make it my priority to ensure my client feels safe and has an understanding of their treatment beforehand. It is essential to me that my client feels in control of their treatment and that they feel their boundaries are respected.
So how do I do this....?
🛋 The Venue
The Wellbeing Rooms offers a level of safety, warmth and assurance. The owners have not only created a beautiful space, they have created a space that feels secure, snug and calm.
There is a secure buzzer entry which means that the only people that are in the building are there by appointment only and to see one of the highly trained Wellbeing Rooms practitioners. Upon arrival I like to meet my client at the door so that they feel welcomed and reassured. I prefer my clients to not have time spent in the waiting room as speaking from experience I know that waiting rooms can be a place of suspense and anxiety. The therapy room is always fully prepared before client arrival, with lovely smells of essential oils, dim lighting, and a warm cosy temperature.
🗓 The Consultation
Before every therapy I carry out a consultation with my client. It is essential that I get to know my client, help them to feel at ease and get a background of their health history. Another crucial part of the consultation is to let my client know exactly what their treatment will entail. We will discuss what areas, if any, they are uncomfortable with being touched and they wish to be avoided for example the feet, the legs or the chest and what level of undress they are comfortable with. It is important that a client knows that all therapies can be adapted to their needs, wants and level of comfort. I then show my client exactly how I would like them to lie or sit and provide them with the towels and blankets so ensure that they are always covered. I leave the room to allow them to get dressed after letting them know that I will be by the door so there is no risk of someone accidentally entering their room while they are getting prepared.
Communication is crucial when working with any individual receiving complementary therapies but more so when working with someone who has experienced trauma. It is important that I do not make my client feel uncomfortable in any way before, during or after the treatment. Safety is key! They must feel safe, heard and secure when working with me. If this cannot be reached then we will struggle to get to a place of calm, relaxation and rest which is the underlying goal and how I want my clients to feel during and after their treatment.
💆🏻♀️ The Treatment
Nothing is set in stone! Who knows how they are going to feel week to week? This is why I never pre plan my treatments with my clients. I like us both to have a goal and something to aim for, for example - I want you to come here and for this hour you are free, you are relaxed and you can just be completely in the moment, while this is happening we are going to release the tension in the shoulders and lower back and every week we will work on this. However, a client may come the following week with foot pain or feel that they don’t want to get undressed so we can do a hand massage and some breathing techniques, but this is always in their control and decided by them. A treatment plan is always a rough idea and never definitive. I make it clear to my clients that they have control over their treatment plan, and I am there to help and guide them when making decisions about their complementary therapy choices.
The need for human touch is one of our most basic primal needs which can benefit us hugely. It has been shown to ease depression, increase attentiveness and enhance immune function. Massage and complementary therapies are a fantastic way to introduce this into your life in a way that is controlled, safe and with consent. I would highly recommend that before seeking a massage or complementary therapist that you do your research! A therapist with experience working with individuals who have experienced trauma and mental health problems is imperative in ensuring the best possible experience and space to heal.
Thank you for reading!
Relax, refresh and heal ❤️