Create a personal connection and set boundaries when working with a trauma survivor.


  1. Establish a personal connection first before beginning the bodywork session.
    As a bodywork practitioner, you can start by asking the person if there’s anything they want you to pay attention to. Examine their posture, how tense they look, and whether they are maintaining eye contact or not. Your goal is to connect with them and assess their mental and physical condition.

  2. Set boundaries and create a safe environment early on.
    Decide whether to lay the person face up or face down. If you’re treating the person for the first time, ask them to lay face up so that they can maintain visual contact with you. Ask them about the clothing they want to leave on for that session. You want to make them feel as safe as possible.

  3. Maintain firm and safe contact with your first touches.
    You can start by touching their hand or forearm as these are the safest places to touch someone’s body. Begin slowly and gently with no forced or sharp contact. Apply equal force to the tension in that area. This will release the frozen tension. Be confident when massaging them and avoid hesitant touches that convey a lack of trust to the client.


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