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Resolving Crime's Impact
Victims of crime may be impacted both mentally and physically by the trauma. In an effort to help these people heal, the Victim Services Center in Miami, Florida, offers free massage along with its counseling services.
ÜOur primary service is cutting-edge clinical treatment, designed to resolve the impact of the overwhelming event or events that brought someone to our agency,¹ said Teresa Descilo, executive director of the center.
Descilo, a longtime client of massage therapy, received a $4,400 community service grant from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Foundation in 2002, in order to add bodywork to the centeräs healing toolbox.
The AMTA Foundation community service grants, awarded annually, aim to provide massage therapy to communities or groups who currently have little or no access to such services. Clients of the Victim Services Center have experienced crimes such as domestic violence, childhood sexual assault and witnessing murder.
ÜWe decided to implement massage because many times a client will be able to resolve the mental aspects of their traumas, but some of the physical aspects stay lodged in the body,¹ said Descilo.
ÜIn other cases the mental aspects are so overwhelming that a client is unable to face the event at all,¹ she continued. ÜFor these clients, beginning with massage or other bodywork is indicated.¹
The grant money was used to purchase supplies, including a storage place, tables and chairs for the massage therapists, and oils, said Descilo. Wendy Mullins, L.M.T., a teacher at Educating Hands School of Massage in Miami, was paid to recruit and organize massage therapists for the program.
ÜI gather massage therapists, either new graduate students or anyone willing to volunteer their time,¹ said Mullins.
The program began in October 2002 and will end in September, although Descilo said she plans to seek additional funding from the AMTA Foundation to continue the program in the future.
The program runs in four-week cycles with new massage therapists and clients each cycle. During each cycle, four to five massage therapists visit the center once a week to provide two to three one-hour table massages to clients, who are usually referred by staff.
ÜThere are a variety of goals to the massage, the first one being relaxation, and just introducing [healing] touch,¹ said Mullins. ÜWe donät get into the emotional makeup of the clients, but from my understanding a lot of them have had physical abuse.¹
Questionnaires addressing physical well-being are filled out by the clients before the four-week program begins and after it ends.
ÜClient feedback has included never having felt this relaxed in their lives, feeling that a chronic ache had gone away, [and] overall improvement in their sense of well-being,¹ said Descilo.
- Brandi Schlossberg
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