Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy: Bringing the Body into Treatment (Hardcover)
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This practical guide presents the cutting-edge work of the Trauma Center’s yoga therapy program, teaching all therapists how to incorporate it into their practices.
When treating a client who has suffered from interpersonal trauma—whether chronic childhood abuse or domestic violence, for example—talk therapy isn’t always the most effective course. For these individuals, the trauma and its effects are so entrenched, so complex, that reducing their experience to a set of symptoms or suggesting a change in cognitive frame or behavioral pattern ignores a very basic but critical player: the body.
In cases of complex trauma, mental health professionals largely agree that the body itself contains and manifests much of the suffering—self hatred, shame, and fear. Take, for example, a woman who experienced years of childhood sexual abuse and, though very successful in her professional life, has periods of not being able to feel her limbs, sensing an overall disconnection from her very physical being. Reorienting clients to their bodies and building their “body sense” can be the very key to unlocking their pain and building a path toward healing.
Based on research studies conducted at the renowned Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts, this book presents the successful intervention known as Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY), an evidence-based program for traumatized clients that helps them to reconnect to their bodies in a safe, deliberate way.
Synthesized here and presented in a concise, reader-friendly format, all clinicians, regardless of their background or familiarity with yoga, can understand and use these simple techniques as a way to help their clients achieve deeper, more lasting recovery.
Unlike traditional, mat-based yoga, TSY can be practiced without one, in a therapist’s chair or on a couch. Emphasis is always placed on the internal experience of the client him- or herself, not on achieving the proper form or pleasing the therapist. As Emerson carefully explains, the therapist guides the client to become accustomed to feeling something in the body—feet on the ground or a muscle contracting—in the present moment, choosing what to do about it in real time, and taking effective action. In this way, everything about the practice is optional, safe, and gentle, geared to helping clients to befriend their bodies.
With over 30 photographs depicting the suggested yoga forms and a final chapter that presents a portfolio of step-by-step yoga practices to use with your clients, this practical book makes yoga therapy for trauma survivors accessible to all clinicians. As an adjunct to your current treatment approach or a much-needed tool to break through to your traumatized clients, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy will empower you and your clients on the path to healing.
About the Author
David Emerson, an accomplished yoga instructor, lecturer, and trainer, is founder of the Black Lotus Yoga Project, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to teaching yoga to individuals with PTSD. He is also coordinator of the yoga services program at The Trauma Center of the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts, and serves as the lead trainer in a number of yoga retreats and workshops at Kripalu, among other venues
This is not a book of anecdotes, but a book that describes a method and how it has been shown to help a wide range of clients with trauma. Emerson’s passion is evident on every page, but he is forthcoming about the potential limitations of TSY: It is not a cure, nor is it a temporary remedy for an otherwise long-term condition. Instead, TSY is to be used in tandem with traditional therapy. And it is a tool for coping that I, for one, think is worth considering.
This user-friendly, easily read book provides ample case vignettes, suggested language and photo images of yoga forms to use. It incorporates breath work and mindfulness, offering the opportunity for client and counsellor to connect through a shared experience. Creating a body that is more ‘feel-able’ improves the ability to heal the impact of complex trauma. I would encourage all counsellors and therapists to try it – you may be pleasantly surprised.
— Therapy Today
When asked to review yoga teacher David Emerson’s most recent book, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy, I readily agreed, expecting I would add a few tools to my general yoga therapy / spiritual direction practice. What I didn’t expect was that my world would be turned a little upside down in the process, causing me to pause and consider aspects of my own experience that smack of complex trauma, and leaving me with a deeper sense of compassion both for myself and others.
[A] useful took for professional readers who want to incorporate yogic practices into a treatment plan for certain clients but who are limited by time, physical, or practical constraints. . . . [D]esigned for use in a psychotherapy office setting . . . the technique is highly versatile. . . . The material is presented so that practitioners from any school of psychology can use trauma-sensitive yoga.
— Somatic Psychotherapy Today
Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy is, simply, a masterpiece. It is remarkably easy to read and understand. Its straightforward language matches its accessible structure. Its simplicity belies a deep knowledge of neurological research and treatment practices. . . . TSY can be an excellent adjunct treatment that aids responsivity by helping to establish the self-observational skills that empirically supported treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy build on. . . . TSY is one component that sets the stage for change to happen.
— Newsletter of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
David Emerson writes in a superbly lucid and authoritative manner. . . . [T]here is wisdom here that can be internalized as another drawer in the toolbox.
— Yoga Teacher Magazine
Emerson perceptively identifies the disruption of the mind/body relationship as a major consequence of PTSD. Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy targets the repair of this rupture. The sensitively adapted, easily applied interventions are tailored to the needs of this fragile population. This book is a welcome adjunct to professional treatment as well as self-help, and it can also serve as a guide for yoga and meditation teachers, helping to adjust their established practices to better serve traumatized individuals and populations.
— Babette Rothschild, author of The Body Remembers and 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery
In this eminently readable, user-friendly text, the author introduces the rich history and wisdom of yoga practice to clinical providers, integrating trauma-informed themes such as purpose, rhythm, and self-attunement. With ample case examples and illustrations of yoga forms that easily translate into the therapy office, along with suggested language, this book is a treasure trove of immediately useful strategies for those working with trauma-impacted clients.
— Margaret E. Blaustein, PhD, Director of Training and Education, The Trauma Center at JRI; author of Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents