There is no simple answer to this question because each individual experiences PTSD differently so the massage therapist’s approach must be very flexible and possibly supervised.
Here are some of the more common symptoms of PTSD:
The National Center for PTSD states there are four types of symptoms.
1. Reliving the traumatic event
– Caused by a ‘trigger’ (a sound, sight or smell)
2. Avoidance of environments that may remind the individual of the event
– Avoid talking or thinking about it
– Avoid people or places that are reminders of what happened
3. Hyper arousal
– Feeling jittery
– Easily become irritated or angry
– Easily startled
4. Negative changes in feelings and beliefs
– Difficulty maintaining personal or professional relationships
– Dissociation from the event
– Feelings of guilt, shame, unworthiness, humiliation
– Feeling out of control
Knowing about the symptoms is merely a starting place. As massage therapists, we must learn how to help effectively so the client feels safe and trusts us. Work with another clinician to gain insight into PTSD and mentorship.
Six ways massage can help:
1. Gentle touch can give the client a more positive sense of self
2. Stress relief; decreased anxiety/worry
3. Creates a place of safety for the client
4. Decreases physical pain and tension
5. Gives the client control
6. Improves breathing and sleeping patterns
As long as the client knows he/she can stop the session at any time and as long as the therapist works slowly and gently after a thorough intake, massage has been shown to greatly improve the symptoms of PTSD, when used in conjunction with professional help from a doctor and counselor. Perhaps you know someone with PTSD who could benefit from massage.