Removing Trauma from the Body

Emotional Resolution is about balancing your feelings by addressing the emotions that are embedded in our bodies, replaying when triggered by similar situations, enlarging the scope of the current circumstances and keeping us in a seemingly endless cycle of drama and pain.

Neuroscientist and trauma researcher, Bessel van der Kolk, MD has spent his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences. He has some very interesting things to say about how trauma affects our bodies and compensating behaviors.

“The trauma caused by childhood neglect, sexual or domestic abuse and war wreaks havoc in our bodies” — Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score

He says that we commonly think that trauma is a story about the past, but in fact, trauma makes changes to our brain, so that the person sees and experiences the world differently than other human beings. Research shows that “it is almost impossible to become a drug addict/alcoholic without having a prior history of childhood trauma.” Addiction is the result of these people desperately trying to manage unbearable physical sensations.

Peter Levine, PhD has also spent a career working with trauma. He developed a body-awareness approach to healing trauma called Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE focuses on the physiological responses that occur when someone experiences or remembers an overwhelming or traumatic event, in his or her body, rather than only through the thoughts or emotions connected to it. His method is to allow and encourage the body’s sensations, trapped by the trauma, to discharge using a number of “resources” to ground the person in the present moment, that reinforce the client’s inherent capacity to self-regulate.

“The bodies of traumatized people portray “snapshots” of their unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the face of threat and injury. Trauma is a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time… Traumatized people are not suffering from a disease in the normal sense of the word- they have become stuck in an aroused state. It is difficult, if not impossible, to function normally under these circumstances.” — Peter A. Levine


I find it affirming, and corroborating, that these two world renowned and respected experts in the field of trauma research both agree that unprocessed emotions are trapped in the body. And that the best path to recovery is by working to release the frozen emotions from the body.

Connecting Trauma and Chronic Pain

In my own work, I’ve found that my clients who are struggling with the repercussions of trauma have issue on two fronts: Emotional and Physical. Often times they are in traditional therapy of some kind, but find it hard to make headway because of chronic body pain.

Traumatic emotions are buried in the body and resurface as pain and named disorders when left unresolved over long periods of time.

Bowen Technique is a system of gentle bodywork, that brings equilibrium to fascia (connective tissue) tension in the body. It is very relaxing and stimulates the body’s nervous systems to re-balance, prompting a healing response on structural and energetic levels Short answer: it feels really good and takes the pain away.

When pain is first and foremost in a person’s mind, it is very difficult to work on anything else, even if “anything else” is critical to relieving emotional pain, which is also critical to recovery. I’ve found that applying Bowen to chronic pain is a necessary first step. When the body calms down, after a session or two of Bowen, clients find their traditional therapy much more productive. They can remember, focus and do the work with out the distracting onslaught of pain.

Adding an Emotional Resolution (EmRes) session before Bowen is a powerful advantage. Emotional Resolution is a simple method of releasing buried emotions, regardless of the circumstances around their internment. The client recalls an emotional situation of note, and the practitioner guides them thru a protocol of physical sensory awareness which releases the triggered emotion that is buried in the body. Immediately afterwards the clients receives a Bowen session to help the body finish processing the emotion release and do the primary work of balancing the fascia to release and ignite a healing response.

The combination of Emotional Resolution and Bowen is amazing. There is a synergy and reciprocity between the two disciplines that coordinate responses between physical and emotional bodies. They literally talk the language of the limbic system that is holding the emotions, the body memories, in stasis and provides portals for their discharge and release.

Emotion work and Body work, individually, can be an asset to any recovery process. But together in the same session, they have produced headway and breakthroughs in my clients. These cases reinforce my enthusiasm and desire to champion this work. It’s so important to those of us that need it.

Are you ready to release your buried trauma and chronic body pain?

Book your Emotional Resolution and Bowen Session today


Video with Bessel van der Kolk

Youtube with Peter Levine

Tom Bowen’s Birthday-April 18

The week before Tom’s birthday is traditionally International Bowen Week, so that we may remember and celebrate his work.

As a bodyworker and healer, I’ve found that it’s often the simple techniques that have the most reach, the largest effect on the body.  Frequently we try to over complicate what is really simple.

Most of my new Bowen therapy clients come to my office after trying literally every other option they can find.  Bowen is not widely known in my area, so it takes a determined searcher to find me sometimes.  By the time they reach me, their issues are chronic and complicated by years of compensation patterns.  I find this a delightful challenge that Bowen can certainly meet.

Bowen works with the fascia, our connective tissue, to re-tone and re-tension the whole body, from muscles and organs to bones and hormones. Fluids carrying nutrients and waste, in and out of our deepest recesses, are facilitated by fascia and disturbances to these pathways may also be addressed by Bowen’s gentle moves.

Bowen is a series of short stubby strokes or Moves, as specific locations on the body, executed in predetermined “sets” or procedures as prerequisites to future procedures in the session, with short Waits between the procedures. AKA: I do a couple moves in a couple places, leave the room for 2 or more minutes, come back, do a couple more moves in a couple places and leave the room for 2 minutes, etc. The Bowen Moves give instruction to the fascia, to examine itself, it’s tension and alignment, both near the move and in any fascially related tissue, which can range from head to toe or deep into the body. The Wait is required by the fascia–it needs time, 90-sec to 2-min, to react. So it’s gentle, slow work that accommodates the natural form and timing that the body needs to process information is a whole and complete way.

Sessions are generally an hour long, sometimes shorter or longer, depending on the work. The first session is generally about balancing the whole body and getting all the fascia to soften. Hardened fascia, called “armoring” is generally present in chronic cases and our goal of flexible, elastic fascia will bring on much needed relief to the body.

“While experts still aren’t quite sure how or why it works, research into Bowen therapy by the University of Lancaster found that 70% of volunteers with a frozen shoulder gained full mobility after undertaking a series of Bowen therapy sessions. 100% of participants reported better mobility with daily activities and overall lower levels of pain.”

Bowen is known to

  • Reduce neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Decrease stress and fatigue
  • Help with repetitive strain injuries, digestive issues and reproductive issues
  • Decrease headaches including migraine intensity and frequency
  • Reduce bed wetting and assist with bladder problems
  • Regain mobility from frozen shoulder or assist with knee, hip or mobility issues
  • Assist healing athletic and sports injuries

There are a few things you should know before you trying Bowen.

  1. There’s literally NO contraindications. Bowen is for everyone: kids, infants, adults, in hospital, in hospice… everyone.
  2. To create a personalized treatment plan, you will be asked about your medical history.
  3. Bowen works alone. The body can only process a given amount of information at a time.  Too much information–like touching a person from head to toe– may cause a brief respite, but within days all the instructions are tossed out.  Bowen gives discrete instruction to the body and then we stop for 5 days and let that information work its way through the body. No further treatment by anyone for 5 days–no Bowen, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.
  4. Drinking water is critical. Because the fluid pathways are affected, we drink lots of water, to keep everything flushed through and out of the body as much as possible.
  5. Processing the information can result in short periods of tension in muscles, over the next five days.  This is normal, although not a universal experience. If it happens, it usually only last 20 minutes or so.
  6. Most people with chronic cases will require 3-5 sessions to see huge improvement. Sometimes, mobility and strength are increased right way. Each client and case is different.  We generally say to plan for 3-5 sessions and then are happy when its effects are seen much sooner 🙂
  7.  Light exercise in the five days following Bowen, like gentle walking or yoga, can increase success of the treatment. This physical activity can help reeducate the muscles and other soft tissue as they find new life in their reconditioned fascia environment.

Try Bowen! You wont regret it!

As a first-adopter, I’m happy to spread the news, to explain again and again what Bowen is and how it can help. I’m grateful to Tom for being the person to bring this special combination of move, location, sequencing and tempo to bodywork.

Happy Birthday, Tom!