What does "trauma-informed" massage therapy mean?

Calliope Massage Studio is a body positive, diversity-friendly, queer-friendly, trans-affirming, trauma informed practice.

What does trauma-informed massage therapy mean?

Trauma-informed means a client-centered approach to massage therapy. It is collaborative and acknowledges that you are the expert on your body.

As the massage therapist, I bring my expertise in anatomy, the nervous system, methods of relaxation, knowledge of how pain works, and how many bodies work, to help navigate. Ultimately the session is determined by what feels good to your body. Your feedback on what feels comfortable, what is uncomfortable, and what works for you is very important and always listened to. We are here to listen, to validate, and to facilitate relief.

During the intake:

Our intake forms are pretty comprehensive, they help make sure we can give you the best experience every time you come in and that we start from a place of being informed about your health.  Right at the top, we ask for every client’s pronouns, and what you preferred to be called. We start without assumptions and ask for you to tell your story.

On the table:

When we say "undress to your comfort level", we truly mean that. This could mean completely disrobing or leaving a few pieces of clothing on- in that case you'd be fully draped* with a sheet- or you can even remain fully clothed! There are lots of effective approaches that can be done fully clothed using heat, compression, and stretching. The most important thing is for you to feel safe and comfortable for your entire session.

There is nothing therapeutically necessary that should cause you to be uncomfortable or in pain. Pressure, temperature, and positioning can be easily adjusted to fit your needs. You may ask to stop any treatment at any time.

Even if you don’t identify as having a trauma history you will benefit from this approach by trusting that safety, communication and transparency will always be there. Perhaps you’ve had a bad day, or you have a complicated relationship with your body or a part of your body, or you just want to be assured that you will be listened to. When we treat the person, the results are amazing. The greater your overall comfort, the greater your relaxation and/or pain relief.

*Draping means your body is securely covered with a sheet, and only when an area is being massaged is it uncovered. This is how draping covers your body:

*Draping means your body is securely covered with a sheet, and only when an area is being massaged is it uncovered. This is how draping covers your body:

Dermoneuromodulation- venturing onto the "foggy footbridge"

My massage practice is a constantly growing, expanding thing. I love to learn new ways to provide care to my clients, sometimes that comes from taking a class, sometimes that comes from the clients themselves. 

I recently had the opportunity to take a workshop in Dermoneuromodulation (DNM), which was a wonderful paradigm shift in a lot of ways, but also validated much of what I do already with some solid science. It's a mouthful, but when you break it down, it's not such an intimidating concept: dermo- skin, neuro- nervous system, modulation- change. This method is an approach to interacting with the body, particularly in terms of pain, through the nervous system. Gentle, feedback focused, and flexible, it is also very empowering for the client. 

After taking my first DNM class, I felt really energized by the material and excited to share what I'd learned with my clients. The several days following the class, I incorporated bits and pieces in my sessions to really positive feedback. I was starting to feel pretty confident. 
I had a regular client come in experiencing severe pain, and I told them that I had some new things that I wanted to try that I thought would be quite helpful. I walked into the treatment room with the confidence that my new skills would be just the thing to, (*wince*), fix their pain. 

It did not start well. I tried a few things and nothing improved. They were more sensitive to touch than they had ever been in past sessions, and everything I tried just made things worse. They were getting frustrated. I was getting frustrated. After all, what was I thinking? What made me think I suddenly knew all the answers after taking a weekend course? 

I stepped back and reconsidered the approach. The first problem was that merely lying prone on the table was causing them discomfort. So we adjusted. We tried a few different positions and bolstering until they were not experiencing any pain at rest. 

I tried to shift my thinking from mimicking a specific protocol to applying broader concepts. We found a few hand positions that not only did not create more pain, but actually felt good. At the end of the session, they got off the table without the pain they had come in with. 

I had to get out of my head, out of my ego, out of the second guessing, and into the client's experience to get there. 

Diane Jacobs (the namer/originator of this approach) refers to the ongoing process of learning about the pain experience and the mechanisms behind it as "walking through fog on a narrow footbridge". I'm taking my first few steps.