The following information is intended for health-care professionals, however others may find the material helpful for themselves or someone they know. While some bodyworkers and psychotherapists may be able to sense trauma, few are aware of visual signs. Without formal training in a trauma resolution method, practitioners may be unaware that clients are suffering from unresolved trauma. Having been a bodyworker and client of bodywork well before any formal training in trauma resolution, I am compelled to share some indicators of trauma that reside in clients’ tissues. This is important, because any treatment being provided may activate unresolved trauma. Treatments that focus on release alone could be problematic, because the physiology may be unable to contain and integrate the amount of energy that is released. Determining whether a client has unresolved traumatic imprints is done by “tracking” the body. "Tracking" is the active awareness of the therapist to observe and follow the client's internal experience, and organize this information systematically and intuitively. If the practitioner is not trained in a trauma resolution modality, he/she may not have developed the tracking skills necessary. 

Indicators Of Trauma

Any one warning sign could indicate that your client/patient could benefit from working with someone trained in a modality that’s designed specifically to resolve trauma imprints, such as Somatic Experiencing. Heathcare practitioners may want to look for more than one sign before initiating a discussion about trauma. 

  • Skin tone changes, especially around the neck, throat, and upper chest
  • Abrupt shifts in body temperature, sometimes fluctuating from one extreme to the other
  • Nausea after or while working with an area of the body
  • Dissociation, e.g. not being present, spaciness and lethargy, sudden sleep, inability to feel parts of the body, inability to feel sensation and or movement patterns
  • Inability to recall events, traumas, or injuries
  • A sense of paralysis with a part or parts the body being attended to, inability or difficulty with feeling, moving or letting go (braced)
  • Powerful emotional response elicited with work in an area of the body
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tightness of the throat and or jaw; tenseness in the tongue
  • Inability to speak or make a sound
  • Flaccid and unresponsive tissues
  • A significant history of events (single, multiple or repeated) to which a person deems little or no importance