From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Safe Haven: Trauma Awareness for Massage Therapists,” by Melanie Rubin and Kristen Kuester, in the March 2009 issue. Article summary: Massage therapists need to be able to recognize when a client is experiencing traumatic activation during a session—especially at this time in history, as many people face traumatic situations like loss of income, housing, jobs and retirement security.

There are several excellent techniques and modalities often used in providing body-centered trauma therapy. The following descriptions are taken from the websites referenced.

Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Experiencing is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine. It is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Animals in the wild utilize innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors. These mechanisms provide animals with a built-in “immunity” to trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly charged, life-threatening experiences. For more information about this modality and to locate a practitioner, visit

The Hakomi Method of body-centered therapy originated in the mid-1970s and was developed by the internationally known therapist and author Ron Kurtz. It is an efficient and powerful process for assisting the client in the discovery and study of mind-body patterns and core beliefs. Hakomi draws from modern body-centered psychotherapies, such as Psychomotor, Reichian, Bioenergetics, Gestalt, Feldenkrais, Structural Bodywork, Focusing, Ericksonian Hypnosis and Neurolinguistic Programming. For more information and to locate a practitioner, visit

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), created by Francine Shapiro, is a system that integrates elements of many psychotherapy modalities in structured protocols that are designed to maximize the success of trauma therapy treatment. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential and body-centered therapies. During EMDR, the client attends to past and present experiences in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Next, the client is instructed to let new material become the focus of the subsequent series of guided stimulation. This sequence of dual attention and personal association is repeated many times in the session. For more information about the theory and practice of EMDR, as well as to locate a practitioner, visit

Brainspotting is a system that was developed by David Grand, Ph.D. It works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional and body pain, trauma, dissociation and a variety of other challenging symptoms. Brainspotting is designed to support the clinical healing relationship by releasing experiences and symptoms typically out of reach of the conscious mind and its cognitive language capacity. It works with the deep brain and the body through direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems within the body’s central nervous system. For more information, see

Emotional Freedom Technique
The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) combines knowledge from mind-body medicine and acupuncture to promote physical and emotional healing quickly and without medicines, tools or needles. Instead, it uses the technique of tapping on key acupressure points on the body in a specific sequence. It was created by Gary Craig in 1997. For more information on EFT, as well as to locate a practitioner, visit

Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was created by Richard Bandler and John Gardner as the art and science of excellence and was derived from studying how top people in different fields obtain their results. These communication skills can be learned by anyone to improve their effectiveness both personally and professionally. NLP is based on the idea that we are all made up of a neurology that conveys information about our environment to our central nervous systems and brains. We translate these perceptions in our brains into meanings, beliefs and expectations. As we continue to grow from a “critter brain” baby into a more complex adult human, we tend to filter, distort and magnify the input we get from our environment such that it matches the elaborate program we evolve to explain our life experience. NLP involves examining and changing certain aspects of our belief systems to function more effectively for us in our lives. For more information on NLP and to locate a practitioner, visit

Melanie Rubin and Kristen Kuester