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How We Carry Trauma in the Body

December 5, 2017

A powerful adjunct to post-trauma psychotherapy is body-oriented therapies and methods. Yoga, massage therapy, and Pilates are powerful tools that should be considered and included in the comprehensive treatment plan. In my work with auto accident trauma survivors I daily see the value of combining massage therapy and methods such as Pilates with the verbal working through of trauma in psychotherapy. I believe auto insurance carriers would earn big returns on their investments by paying for personal trainers to work with survivors in regular Pilates sessions which somatically supports the psycho-therapeutic work. When combined with regular massage therapy, the synergy of the combined approaches is the perfect combination for many people attempting to gain improved emotional regulation, physical health, and mobility.

Following serious traumatic events, we need to re-integrate emotionally and physically. We are thrown off balance on many levels both psychologically and physically, and regular work with the Pilates method as directed by a supportive personal trainer can help the body to re-establish a healthy homeostasis. I focus here on Pilates since I have personal experience with having done it twice a week for several years and have seen great benefits physically and emotionally. While the integration of physical activity into mental health treatment is not well researched, there have been some studies and programs reporting positive effects. Dennis Margo, an Australian psychotherapist working with clients who have serious and persistent mental health conditions such as bipolar disorderschizophrenia, and major depression has for several years partnered with a physical trainer and gym to provide a weekly Pilates program which has shown such positive results as improved sleep and fewer visits to the primary care physician. Margo was interested in addressing the problem of metabolic syndrome that clients with such mental health conditions have a four times greater risk of developing than the general population. Metabolic syndrome is the term used to describe a collection of health problems including high blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance, and obesity. Metabolic syndrome has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Margo’s program at Canterbury Community Mental Health Service was reported in the Way Ahead Mental Health Association’s online magazine on December 12, 2016.

 

Read more at Psychology Today.