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Massage Therapy for Clients with a History of Trauma or PTSD: 
A 6-part webinar series 

With Pamela Fitch


This webinar series prepares massage therapists to work safely with patients or clients who have experienced some form of trauma. It integrates evidence-based trauma literature with ways to assess client safety. It also demonstrates how to avoid client touch triggers while providing client-centered care within a massage therapist’s scope of practice. Within the framework of the webinar, participants engage in professional discussion and case-based learning.

Each 2-hour module consists of a webinar lecture followed by a question and answer session that ensures enough time to consider actual case questions and issues arising from practice. Participants engage in confidential peer support and are encouraged to bring questions from their own treatment room experiences. For this reason, participants must enroll for the entire series. It is not possible to attend single sessions.

The series is based on the following text:Talking Body Listening Hands: A guide to professionalism, communication and the therapeutic relationship. 

Participants are responsible for completing weekly assigned text readings and engage in personal reflective practice throughout the webinar series.

A digital copy of the textbook will be provided as part of the course fee.


Part 1: Defining trauma-informed care for Massage Therapists

This webinar establishes some basic concepts, definitions and professional responsibilities for massage therapists who encounter clients dealing with the effects of child or adult sexual abuse, violence or bullying. At the end of the session, participants are able to:

  • Define trauma and post-traumatic stress
  • Explain the implications of trauma-informed care for massage therapists
  • Discuss cultural and gender-based issues that relate to trauma-informed care

Part 2: Indications and contraindications for clients with histories of trauma or PTSD

In the second session, participants delve deeper into behaviours associated with trauma. At the end of this session, participants are able to:

  • Learn how to recognize common signs and symptoms of trauma
  • Describe behaviours that may be supported by massage therapy
  • Explain when massage therapy may be contraindicated or clients may require additional therapeutic support.

Part 3: Neurobiology of trauma

This session helps participants to situate traumatic behaviours within the framework of neuroscience and the stress response. At the end of this session, participants are able to:

  • Describe how the stress response and trauma are related
  • Compare the differences between hyperarousal, hypervigilance and dissociation
  • Explain how implicit memory and persistent pain may emerge as a part of massage therapy treatments

Part 4: Ensuring client safety: Ongoing assessment in a trauma-informed way

This session encourages participants to consider the assessment and treatment process  of clients living with the effects of trauma. At the end of this session, participants are able to:

  • Employ a consistent framework for assessing clients who live with the effects of trauma
  • Use ongoing observation and active listening as a part of the assessment process
  • Recognize when treatment is indicated, a cautionary approach is advised, or when it is contraindicated

Part 5: 3 Part Treatment Process

This session breaks the treatment process into three basic stages and helps participants to recognize transition signals. At the end of this session, participants are able to:

  • Describe how to provide safe and responsible massage therapy at each stage in the treatment process
  • Explain how to facilitate integration of intrusive physical symptoms
  • Discuss strategies for avoiding triggers and traumatic responses

Part 6: Communication strategies and the Importance of Self-care

In this final session, participants share examples of clinical challenges and communication issues that they have faced and tools to solve case problems. It provides real case examples that indicate the need for peer supervision or support and encourages participant reflection on trauma-informed management of future cases.

  • Relate how to communicate effectively in challenging situations
  • Explain how to complete or refuse care appropriately
  • Describe situations that may require additional peer support and supervision

This event will take place via webinar beginning on Saturday, February 26, March 5, March 12, Mach 19, March 26 and April 2, 2022 from 9:00am-11:00am (CST)

Please register by visiting the MTAM Coming Events page on the MTAM website.