Updated: Oct 31, 2018
Professional reflexologists have a unique opportunity to work as part of a team to help people toward self-healing from stress and trauma.
However much trauma messes up our mind, trauma is fundamentally a “body thing.” It is not that trauma can be reduced to physiology… but neither can it be separtated from it.” Writes Jasmine Lee Cori in her book healing from Trauma: A survior’s Guide to Understanding your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life.
The therapist touch, behavior and language can help the client adapt and recover from stress, if the client permits the healing to occur.
To appreciate the role of bodywork in trauma, it helps to understand the physiology of stress. At the heart of all stress is a change in intracellular metabolism and production of energy and processes. This process starts immediately with everyday and acute stress which can get locked in when that stress becomes chronic, as in PSTD.
According to Jack Tips, certified clinical nutritionist and certified classical homeopath who operates the Apple a Day clinic in Texas, connecting with a person who is dedicated to healing, such as a professional reflexologist, can allow the “cellular memory” of traumatic events to release and dissipate. “ The healing touch communicates with the body’s epigenome [chemical compounds that modify or mark DNA] that the need for the stress response is past, and then the cellular metabolism returns to a peacetime function of optimal health.”
Stresses in the body show up first in the feet, often, people with PSTD show an increase in stress lines in the soles of the feet. These lines emanate from the inside arch and spread out like a fan. Reflexively, the lines show stress on the central and enteric (pertaining to the intestines) nervous systems”
Using a holistic approach supports the healing process. As people heal, thelines become fewer in number and fainter, indicating the move toward better health.
Professionally trained reflexologists can identify a whole range of conditions by observing the feet for anatomically verifiable deposits in the tissue, color, congestion (fluid located on a reflex), stress lines, temperature, texture, and other features. All are indicators of an imbalance in the reflexive tissue in the body. Reflexology nudges the body toward balance, helping the body reset its mechanisms into a state of wholeness and health.
Advantages of Reflexology
A benefit of using reflexology for client with PSTD is that it can be utilized when massage and other touch therapies are contraindicated. Also, the beneficial effects of reflexology on mental health are clinically documented.
Reflexology improves the client’s sense of wellbeing, improves sleep, reduces anxiety, and often reduces the need for pain medications, especially following surgery or cancer treatments.
Other advantages of reflexology when working with acute stress and PSTD include:
A person remains clothed. This can be highly significant for a client who was brutalized, raped, tortured, or otherwise feels vulnerable.
Reflexologists start at the feet with the client on their back. Far from the head, feet are generally perceived as a non-threatening place to begin bodywork. Clients can talk with reflexologists face-to-face and see what is going on, allowing them to feel safe and comfortable as the session progresses.
Reflexive actions occur instantly to relieve tension and stress, promoting deep, restorative relaxation and sleep.
A reflexive area in the feet exists for every organ, gland, and part of the body.
Foot reflexology improves the function of all body system: Immediately noticeable are improvements in the flow of bioelectrical energy, blood, lymph, and nerve impulses.
Reflexology protocols address health challenges particular to the client, such as depression, diabetes, headaches, menstrual issues, respiratory conditions, and more. Protocols follow physiology, making reflexology a direct path to nudging the body towards wellness.
Reflexology also works energetically by balancing the body’s energy systems. It works in harmony with a broad spectrum of energy therapies, such as polarity therapy and Asian medicine.
Reflexologist and bodywork can support clients’ healing regardless of what type of stress they are living through. Whether clients are experiencing everyday stress or PSTD, receiving even an hour of therapy twice a month can make a world of difference.