Massage Training for Abused People
Although massage could provide a much needed healing environment for a survivor of abuse, the therapist needs to be sensitive to the abused person's needs and boundaries. She must also keep in mind that massage may trigger the trauma, and leave the patient having an emotional outburst on her table. These emotional outbursts may bring back unpleasant memories, or rehash memories that were hidden deep in the subconscious mind. This is the first step of the healing process.
When working with an abused patient, the massage therapist starts out with a disadvantage because an abused person transfers feelings of mistrust to his massage therapist. The patient may feel as though he is going to be exploited, or that the therapist does not have his best interest in mind. Therefore, to develop a healing relationship, the therapist must gain the trust of her patient. Remember to be careful of all body language and things that you say because it could be misinterpreted. Be a good listener, but be objective. Also, you must always dress professional so that the patient does not misinterpret your intentions. When the patient feels comfortable with you, he may tell you incidents of his trauma.
The patient will never allow the therapist to touch her if trust was not established. Also, if the abused patient was a woman, she would want a woman therapist because she would be apprehensive of a male therapist. If the patient is uncomfortable with disrobing, accommodate her by working over her clothing. Ask questions. Find out if the patient has any objections to you touching a particular area of her body. For example if a patient has been strangled, she may not want you to touch anywhere near her neck.
Two common noninvasive therapies to treat an abused patient are SomatoEmotional Release (SER) and Trauma Touch Therapy (TTT). SER is a body-mind technique allowing body memories and emotions to be released. Trauma Touch Therapy is a combination of massage modalities, first starting with energy therapies and gradually growing into full touch, allowing the patient to experience safe touch.
Massaging patients who have been abused is a much needed field. In the United States, approximately 50 million men and woman have been sexually abused and 4.8 million women have been physically abused. For the patient to receive the most beneficial treatment, you need to work with a psychotherapist. Do not attempt to offer care to somone who has been abused without the proper training.