On the surface, someone might not be able to tell that a Stars Align session is trauma-informed. My techniques, rooted in Deep Tissue and Swedish massage, help to unwind holding patterns and release tension.
What is trauma-informed massage therapy?
Trauma-informed massage is bodywork that prioritizes a person’s physical and emotional safety over any musculoskeletal release. My sessions center the nervous system, as any musculoskeletal work on a person with an activated fight or flight response, however minor, will be less effective. I utilize consistent communication, consent, and trauma-informed techniques to bring the nervous system to a place of safety and relaxation.
My clients can:
- Keep all or some of their clothes on.
- Remain in a face up position the entire time.
- Keep their eyes open.
- Stay in conversation with me the whole time.
- Request a brighter, more well-lit space.
- Dictate which areas of the body are okay to touch, and which are not.
- Bring a close friend.
- Pause or stop the session completely for any reason.
If your body does not feel safe, it cannot heal.
If you’ve ever left a massage more tense than when you arrived, or noticed a lot of anxious ruminating thoughts during a session, or often feel like a massage is something done to you, a trauma-informed massage is highly recommended. Contact me to discuss your needs today.
Any person can benefit from a trauma-informed session, even if they’ve never experienced a traumatic event or navigate unresolved trauma-responses. At the least, a session that prioritizes the nervous system can aid in deeper relaxation. At it’s most powerful, a trauma-informed session can bring about a greater sense of safety and peace in your body, leaving you feeling more connected and grounded- like you’re home.
What does a trauma-informed session look like?
It is important to know what you can expect as a Stars Align client, especially if you are new to massage.
A client can prepare for a massage by bathing and remaining makeup-free. A first-time client should arrive 15 minutes early to allow for time to fill out an intake and medical history form. The form asks for personal information such as email, phone # and an emergency contact, just in case. It also asks for some health background so that I can plan a safe and effective massage. If you would like to receive it via email to fill out beforehand, please indicate in your appointment request.
Stars Align Bodywork is on the fourth floor of a building on the Piedmont border of the Grand Lake area in Oakland. There is an elevator that takes you from the lobby to a sunny balcony. Suite 405 is just to the right when stepping off the elevator on the fourth floor. If a client arrives more than 10-15 minutes early, I ask that they wait in the waiting room I share with another practitioner. It is around the corner from my front door, through Suite 406. After hellos and filling out the intake form, we will spend a minute or two going over your answers so I fully understand your goals for the session. This is also a chance to use the bathroom before your session.
Once in the curtained-off massage area, I will show you where you can hang and store your personal items. I will ask that your cell phone be turned to “Do not disturb,” unless you need to be available. I ask clients to remove bracelets, necklaces, large rings, and large earrings. Wedding bands and stud earrings are easy to work around.
I am trained to work with a completely nude client, only undraping the parts of the body I am working on. I am able to perform long, continuous strokes if there aren’t any items of clothing in the way. However, many people new to massage may prefer leaving underwear, or more, on. I will work with whatever makes you most comfortable.
I exit the room to allow you privacy to undress to your level of comfort. I will usually ask clients to start face-down on the table, under the sheet and blanket, with their face in the face cradle. I can provide a relaxing massage in side-lying and face-up positions, too. After about 2 minutes, during which I wash my hands and forearms, I check with you before entering the room again. Once I make sure you are comfortable and warm, I put on some quiet music and get to work! I generally spend a few minutes introducing my touch and warming up with rocking and compressions through the sheet. I then arrange the sheet to allow access to each area I work on, always keeping sensitive areas draped for modesty and warmth. I use sunflower oil or unscented lotion to allow for smooth gliding strokes.
I spend the first half of our session on the back of your body, then ask you to roll over so I can access the front of your body. Unless we have specified any particular areas you do *not* want me to touch, I work on every area except the groin, breasts, and abdomen. I am trained to do abdominal massage, and clients are welcome to request it.
You may find that relaxing and ‘letting go’ comes easily to you during your first massage. Or, you may find that it takes quite a few minutes to become comfortable. Some people find it hard to ‘turn off’ their brain and there is an increase in racing thoughts. Focused breathing, like you would do in a meditation, often helps in these moments. Still others find quiet in their mind and then suddenly, a brilliant idea is formed! I call those ‘Massage Table Epiphanies.”
All of these experiences of a massage are normal. There is no ‘correct’ way to receive a massage. If there is any pain or discomfort, though, I ask that clients inform me right away so I can adjust.
When your session comes to a close, I leave the room again to allow you privacy to dress. The first few minutes after a massage session may be disorienting, and I encourage clients to take their time getting off the table. You will meet me back in the sitting area to spend a moment with me, checking in about how everything went. We settle the payment, and I ask you to walk intentionally to your vehicle and spend a few moments grounding back into your body before driving away.
If you still have questions about your first session, please contact me! I believe all people deserve nurturing bodywork, no matter their experience.