"I never begin a bodywork session without establishing a personal connection. I'm not taking a history; I'm not finding out how traumatized a person is or what happened to them. I check in where they are in their body right now. l ask them if there is anything they want me to pay attention to. All the while, I'm assessing their posture; whether they look me in the eye; how tense or relaxed they seem, are they connecting with me or not.
"The first decision I make is if they will feel safer face up or face down. If I don't know them, I usually start face up. I am very careful about draping; very careful to let them feel safe with whatever clothing they want to leave on. These are important boundaries to set up right at the beginning.
"Then, with my first touch, I make firm, safe contact. Nothing forced or sharp. Nothing too fast. The touch is slow, easy for the client to follow, gently rhythmic. It can be as strong as a handshake. The first place I might touch is their hand and forearm, because that's the safest place to touch anybody, the place where they can touch you back.
"You have to meet their point of resistance—the place that has the most tension—and meet it with an equal amount of energy. That releases the frozen tension. You can't hesitate; hesitation communicates a lack of trust in yourself. Slow movement, careful attuning to the client is different from hesitation. You have to meet them with tremendous confidence and empathy, let the pressure of your touch meet the tension they are holding in their bodies."

trauma and bodywork