Touching Trauma

Providing physical and emotional communication at a level far deeper than words, touch is a vital aspect of experiencing meaning, purpose and joy throughout our lives.” — Michael Changaris, PhD

Touch is a fundamental sense, and one of the earliest ways to relate to self, others and the environment. It is a vital aspect of human experience as well as a form of communication which can contribute to a deep feeling of togetherness, connection, care and love.

The importance of touch does not decrease with age, yet in the US adults touch each other far less than in many other cultures. It is unfortunate that our relationship to touch has become so fraught. Meanwhile, the therapeutic effects of healthy, appropriate touch have been scientifically and clinically proven.

Michele Kong uses touch to support clients in finding greater ease and relief from constriction, pain and other symptoms as a result of trauma and chronic stress held in the body.

Asking a client to place a hand on their own forehead or abdomen, for example, is a form of self-touch that Michele includes (when appropriate) in talk-oriented process and seated work. And similar to bodywork where a client lies on a table, Michele uses intentional and attuned touch to support the release of tensions and holding patterns in the body. Gentle supportive touch combined with verbal dialogue increases interoceptive awareness and aids in processing beliefs, memories, emotions etc. As well, touch supports movements and impulses to reach natural completion on many levels: cellular, energetic, muscular, systemic, psychological and more. The therapeutic hands-on contact can be profoundly healing for many, and particularly for those who experienced adverse events at an early age.

Clients who suffer from certain conditions are often drawn to bodywork recognizing that touch can be relieving. However, ordinary bodywork can sometimes be problematic especially for those who have experienced trauma of various forms. Tension patterns and other adaptive management strategies, often developed as protective responses, which remain in place and can contribute to chronic ailments such as:

  • autoimmune conditions: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel, psoriasis etc.
  • chronic pain: back, neck, nerve etc.
  • constant fatigue: adrenal function, disrupted wake/sleep cycles, CFS, ME etc.
  • digestive conditions: chronic constipation, IBS, spastic colon etc.
  • environmental sensitivities
  • headaches and migraines
  • hormone imbalances
  • joint issues: TMJ, frozen shoulder etc.
  • post traumatic stress symptoms
  • thyroid issues: hypo and hyper thyroid conditions
  • vestibular difficulties: auditory and/or visual disturbances, spatial disorientation etc.

When the stress physiology from traumatic events remains unaddressed, the body attempts to manage in whatever ways possible leading to dysfunction, symptoms and complex conditions that can become exacerbated over time. Often addressing the underlying trauma will bring relief and alleviate symptoms.

From personal experiences with trauma-informed therapeutic touch, Michele pursued further advanced training with Kathy L. Kain (Senior SE™ Faculty, SETI) who over the course of nearly thirty years developed a method specifically for touching trauma held in the body. Influenced by numerous approaches including Body-Mind Centering®, lymphatic drainage, motor sensory integration, neurobiology, Ortho-Bionomy®, osteopathy, somatic psychology and more combined with the trauma-focused approach of Somatic Experiencing® (similarly Sensorimotor Psychotherapy℠), this trauma-informed touch is a gentle way to resolve and release the effects of stress bound in the body.

Unlike other forms of bodywork where the client is often passive, this is a collaborative process where practitioner and client are actively in conversation both verbally and somatically. Rather than working to release muscles and tightness from the outside in, this gentle, therapeutic method of touch invites relief from the inside out.

Touch used in this way increases somatic awareness and greater connection with one’s sense of self. It is also an effective way to release shock and trauma from the physiology and invite the body’s intrinsic healing capacities to be restored. Facilitating the body’s organismic directive towards health provides deep, lasting and life-changing transformation.

For more information, please contact Michele.