For many, scheduling a massage is a way to relax and work out minor aches and pains. For others, massage therapy can mean major psychological breakthroughs and relief from chronic pain.
Specifically, somatic massage therapy focuses on areas of pain or trauma and applies physical techniques for healing. “Somato” refers to all of the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissues and organs.
The area of neurosomatic studies is defined as combining knowledge of the nervous system and somato. Working with those muscles in patients can trigger an emotional response.
“Whether we are conscious of it or not, the brain connects synapses and structures and it influences how we do things, and how we move our bodies,” said Kevin Wade, a certified neurosomatic therapist and the campus director at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies in Clearwater. “When we do find an area of the body produces an emotional release, it’s tied up in neurological patterning that’s connected to the brain.”
Wade and his team study the connection between the brain and the body and learn how to relate it to massage therapy. The school opened in 2012 and teaches other massage therapists a neurosomatic approach as a vital component of health care.
The massage therapists at the center are not trained to guide patients through psychological treatments but do learn about the power of the mind-body connection and what to expect during sessions using a neurosomatic approach. Still, it’s not an exact science.
“I’ve been in this line of work for 20 years and I am still so amazed at the brain and how its connection to the body works,” Wade said. “There’s still so much we don’t know about how the brain works and how it does what it does.”
While Wade believes fully in the connection between emotions and the body’s response, he warns that massage for the purpose of emotional release should only be performed by someone with the proper psychological training.
“Emotional release massage has some grayness around it, specifically when it comes to inducing emotional release,” Wade said. “One of the first things a massage therapist learns is to not intentionally induce an emotional response. That’s what psychological counseling does and it’s a different licensure and process completely.”
Improving physical and mental states simultaneously is possible, though, and Wade says that all massage therapy at its very essence provides physical improvements that benefit emotional health.
“Chronic pain and depression are related. If we can treat the pain, we can often alleviate the negative emotions,” Wade said.
Tony Ambush, a massage therapist and the wellness coordinator at Total Health Guidance in Orlando, practices somatic massage with meditation techniques. His patients also regularly see licensed counselors at the practice.
“The body holds trauma and the philosophy of somatic massage centers on tissue memory,” Ambush said. “The human muscle tissues and cells remember traumatic experiences and if that is not addressed, it will continue to cause a person pain or discomfort.”
Ambush says that the body learns lessons from pain and adapts to avoid it in the future through a brain-body connection. People recovering from a car accident can benefit from somato-emotional release, and so can people facing body trauma from abuse or eating disorders.
“A common area where we see pain or discomfort in people with body image issues is the stomach. So we have to work through that and try to release that trauma,” Ambush said.
During the somato-emotional massage, patients experience guided meditation that helps them feel and release emotion. Sometimes that happens with guidance from a licensed therapist who meets separately with Ambush’s patient and other times, the emotional release is organic during the massage.
“People may not be aware that a memory is held in a certain area of the body and when that’s noticed, I make sure they process that emotion with a counselor after the massage,” Ambush said.
Ambush received certification in somato-emotional release massage in 2008 after experiencing two emotional responses to massages himself.
“The first time it happened I started crying like a baby. The second time, all the massage therapist did was touch my arm and started laughing uncontrollably,” Ambush said.
Liz Everett is an Orlando-area stylist who regularly taps emotional release massage to help combat depression, trauma and an eating disorder. Her massage sessions are intertwined with counseling sessions.
“The emotional release massages have been an integral part of my overall holistic treatment that focuses on the source of problems, not just treating symptoms,” Everett said.
The combination of physical release and emotional guidance has boosted Everett’s confidence and given her path to healing an advantage.
“I can work through problems now instead of running away from them,” she said.
This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.orlandosentinel.com