A Natural Resolution of the Effects of PTSD from War Trauma


Slowly we are learning how to treat the devastating syndromes caused by war trauma. Even more slowly, alternative bodywork therapies are becoming part of the treatment.

Trauma Touch Healing is a bodywork therapy specifically designed with techniques to slowly and safely unlock and unwind negative emotions trapped in the body from the effects of traumatic events which stimulated a state of hyperarousal and/or froze the ‘fight or flight’ response.  

shutterstock_201489311-customOne of the amazing facts about trauma issues is that they remain locked in the body tissue virtually forever unless they are treated successfully in therapy. The long-term effects of experiencing war combat are unrelentingly horrendous. The telltale signs of war trauma include recurrent nightmares; insomnia; terrorizing flashbacks; sudden panic attacks; inexplicable shame; dread and despair; a pervasive sense of helplessness; substance abuse and addictions; moodiness; anger; paranoia; isolationism; uncontrollable weeping and grief; sweating; shaking and trembling; constant nervousness and fidgeting; physical weakness; chronic pain; and sometimes total physical and emotional collapse. Besides hyperarousal, fight-or-flight, and in the face of inescapable threat freezing/numbness, the primordial responses of the body to a physical threat to survival include dissociation, a type of psychological checking out and a departure from present time and place. In war or other trauma, any or all of these responses become imprinted in the body’s biochemistry and can be triggered years later by the smallest stimuli – a scent, a sound, a color, an image or the touch of a therapist’s hand.

Treatment of veterans has been complicated by the cultural norms for male behavior: emotional control, bravery, physical strength and silent endurance of pain have been the only acceptable behaviors. In therapy, as veterans begin to allow their war trauma to “unwind” they realized their experiences and feelings were not culturally allowable male behaviors. What distinguishes people who developed PTSD from people who are merely temporarily overwhelmed, is that they become ‘stuck” on the trauma, constantly reliving it in thoughts, feelings or images. It is this constant, intrusive ‘reliving’ – not the actual trauma – that causes PTSD. The heightened sympathetic nervous system support and activation remains locked in the physiology long after the trauma. Therefore, for many vets the only answer is a great deal of isolation and seclusion and often medication that can have so many other side effects.

Trauma Touch Healing is targeted to play an especially vital role in the physical process of unwinding/releasing negative emotions from body tissues through touch and sensations. The key factor for the therapist is to be well-grounded in intellectual understanding of the physiological mechanisms of trauma – especially dissociation – and to be able to maintain clear boundaries during the bodywork session as well as provide a safe space and nonjudgmental listening skills, offering support in ways that empower the client. Veterans need to be able to talk without being ashamed for their long-term inability to recover.