Holistic Trauma/PTSD Care
Our bodies work around held experiences until the load becomes too great; that’s when symptoms develop. Imagine each trauma (emotional or physical) as a sheet of paper. As life adds sheets of paper to our body or psyche, it starts to block the normal function. Enough paper builds up and it feels like a phonebook or dictionary is in the way of anything we are doing. Another way to think of it is a kink in a hose. Some water will get through, but with enough kinks or a deep enough kink it will greatly if not completely cut off the water that can get through. Craniosacral Therapy takes those sheets of paper away page by page or unkinks the hose slowly until full function is restored.
What is Craniosacral Therapy?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Craniosacral Therapy as: “a system of gentle touch designed to enhance the functioning of the membranes, tissues, fluids, and bonds surrounding or associated with the brain and spinal cord.”
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) restores & balances the nervous system while releasing the effects of stress, injury, and trauma. I use an integrated form of CST (ICST) that combines multiple forms of CST from the advanced medical bodywork program I graduated from, the many continuing education trainings, and teachers I’ve had in the last 17 years to make the most of each session. I often add ICST to all my bodywork sessions. It’s deeply relaxing and helps prepare your body for the massage or therapeutic work to come or it helps set the changes made so they last longer or become permanent. Combining ICST with mental health therapy is a powerful way to process and treat trauma; by both physically letting the trauma go and emotionally releasing the trauma you can reach deeper and more complete healing.
What can ICST help?
Just about everyone can benefits from ICST. The only reason not to give it a try is if you’ve had a recent (within 6 weeks) TBI or severe concussion.
To name just a few…
Migraines and Headaches TMJ Dysfunction
Autism Stress and Tension
Chronic Pain Colic and GERD
Motor-Coordination Impairments Central Nervous System Disorders
Fibromyalgia Chronic Fatigue
Learning Disabilities Orthopedic problems
PTSD Anxiety and Depression
Concussion Symptoms Infant Nursing/Feeding Difficulty
What does an ICST session look like?
This type of session typically lasts 50 mins depending on what level of work is needed. During the session the client remains clothed (best to wear comfortable and easy to move in clothing) and comfortably rests on the massage table. If being used in conjunction with a mental health therapist the therapist will also be in the massage room to help process and facilitate the emotional trauma recovery piece of the session. I will gently hold the clients head, neck, face, and sacrum depending on what the body and symptoms tell me to. I will gently move the limbs to feel for where in the spine needs care. Any time things get hard we will walk through it together. This is not a race! It’s always better to go at the pace the body wants and client feels is safest. Typically we start with 50 minute sessions once a week for 2-3 weeks to see how the body is responding and how long the results are lasting. After that we can adjust the session durations and frequency to best fit the clients needs.
What does it feel like?
ICST uses the same amount of pressure as a nickel resting on the back of your hand. Gentle holds on different parts of the head, spine and pelvis/sacrum, facilitate micro movements. These micro movements while intentionally breathing help align the central nervous system and retrain senses to deal with stimulus differently. As we work through trauma in the body the physical symptoms of trauma and PTSD start to become much less powerful. Creating Autonomic Flexibility is like lengthen the fuse on a bomb. Picture the cartoon bomb with the round base and long winding fuse. The longer the fuse the longer we have to deal with our triggers. Eventually we can have such a long fuse the bomb never goes off! How would life be different if you had a mile long fuse?
Are there other forms of Bodywork that may be used?
There may be times when I recommend a different form of bodywork. Such as Myofascial Release. This is a form of massage that focuses on the fascial system, not just the skin and muscles. It gets deeper into the tissues using very slow intentional hand placements and strokes. No oil/cream is used. This method of working on trauma can be especially helpful if the trauma had a physical aspect or physically scaring.
General relaxation massage can be helpful for overall stress reduction, insomnia, anxiety and more. There are certainly times when that can be helpful!
How will I feel afterward?
After your session you will likely feel different! The tissues deep within your body have probably changed a bit. So be gentle with yourself! Take your time getting off the table and plan to spend some time in the waiting area having a cup of tea or glass of water or taking a calm walk or planning to rest until you feel more at home in your new body is a good idea. As trauma releases some have a disoriented feeling for a little while. When we’ve been holding onto one posture or emotion for a long time (sometimes decades or more) things will feel different when those are broken free! The more sheets of paper we remove the more freedom you will have to live the life you want.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a session with Kassia, please text or email:
Timberline to Coastline: Pain & Stress Management
Kassia Finn, Licensed Massage Therapist (#13955), Integrative Craniosacral Therapist
If you’d like to use ICST in conjunction with Mental Health Therapy contact:
Transitions Counseling, LLC
Kael Fry, MS, LMFT
The best way to work through anything is to do it slowly and methodically.
As hard as trauma care can be, living with the symptoms is harder. You are not alone.