Specialist Wellness Counselling incorporates bodywork into its non-psychological counselling approach. This post will look into how I use your feet as a bodywork therapy to help you deal with trauma.
What is trauma?
Trauma is any stressful event that a person experiences and can affect a person in any specific human dimension, namely your spirit, soul, body, sexuality, social relationships, finances, and/or career.
Often, trauma affects all these human dimensions even if the specific trauma is not directly in the specific dimension. An example is a physical trauma like a motor vehicle accident leading to an amputated limb. This is physical trauma but affects all the other human dimensions as well. Spiritually the person will question God’s goodness and why the trauma happened. It affects the soul because psychologically it will affect the mind and your thinking while emotionally it will cause you to experience various emotions. The sexual dimension is affected as the person will need to learn how to be with his or her spouse sexually again, since it may be a learning experience due to not having a limb to balance with. Socially the person’s relationships will be affected and some friends may disappear as they cannot deal with their friend not having a limb. Not having a limb may directly influence a person’s finances, not only due to medical expenses but also career-wise as the career may be directly affected if a limb is amputated.
Trauma debriefing is that initial counselling experience where the trauma victim speaks to a counsellor in order to deal with the initial shock of what just happened. It is always recommended that trauma debriefing happens within a 24 to 48 hour period after the trauma occurred in order to experience the best results.
Specialist Wellness Counselling to dealing with trauma
A specialist wellness counsellor will use a holistic approach to deal with the trauma (debriefing and later the counselling) and this systems approach may include the use of bodywork therapy; obviously depending on the comfort level of the client. The type of trauma the person experienced may also have a direct impact as to what type of bodywork therapy will be appropriate.
My bodywork therapy of choice is actually a totally separate profession and includes some physical work on the client’s feet; that is called therapeutic reflexology.
Therapeutic Reflexology is a formally regulated profession by a statutory council, the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA) in terms of the Allied Health Professions Act (Act 63 of 1982). This makes it inappropriate for a specialist wellness counsellor to make use of the modality of therapeutic reflexology unless he is also registered as such with the AHPCSA. No other association may provide the right to practice reflexology in South Africa. Practicing therapeutic reflexology without being registered with the AHPCSA is illegal in South Africa and punishable by law.
Apart from being registered as an ASCHP specialist wellness counsellor, I am a fully qualified and registered therapeutic reflexologist with a separate therapeutic reflexology practice (more info at www.christoscheepers.co.za). Legally the two professions may not be practiced simultaneously during the same consultation and therefore clear boundaries are set as to when a specialist wellness counselling consultation is done as opposed to when a therapeutic reflexology treatment is performed.
I always operate within the specific scope of practice, especially since therapeutic reflexology is a recognised health profession making medical aid reimbursements possible (depending on your medical aid and plan/option you are on) while specialist wellness counselling is a non-psychological profession and not covered by any medical aids.
Using your feet in dealing with trauma
Specialist Wellness Counselling without bodywork is not always effective in dealing with trauma. Your body secretes cortisol and adrenaline in the body when experiencing a traumatic event and bodywork is often needed to help the body work out these chemicals from the system.
My bodywork therapy of choice to deal with this is therapeutic reflexology and I do so in a totally separate consultation. Therapeutic Reflexology is a modality where I work on the reflexes (nerve endings) on the feet. It is very relaxing and helps a person to relax, but one of the many reasons I prefer this bodywork therapy within the context of dealing with trauma, is because it is non-invasive; I work on the client’s feet without the person having to get undressed, making it ideal even when dealing with sexually related traumas. It is calming and relaxing which assists in the healing process and it is very effective in helping the body to heal itself or at least balance itself.
Is it not weird working on a trauma victim’s feet?
No, not at all. As a professional therapeutic reflexologist I am used to working on people’s feet and I have been doing this since 2003. In 2005 I worked in a Netcare hospital combining counselling and reflexology in trauma debriefing sessions within a private practice. Ever since then, I have successfully work with many trauma victims and had the privilege of seeing them changed not only into survivors but into victors; having the ability to continue living a life of wellness without causing the traumatic event to end their lives.
It is always a huge privilege for me to touch and work on a trauma victim’s feet because I know it is crossing that barrier of touch, but since therapeutic reflexology is a healthy, professional, and non-invasive form of touch, it never makes the trauma victim feel uncomfortable; not even if it is a victim of sexual trauma. Healthy touch in the form of therapeutic reflexology works wonders in helping a person holistically overcome trauma and re-enter a life of wellness on the journey to wholeness.
To make an appointment for specialist wellness counselling, please contact me or visit www.ashi.co.za/counselling. To read more on the separate practice of therapeutic reflexology, please visit www.christoscheepers.co.za.
Scheepers, C.A. (2002) Trauma handling by using the metaphorical value of Bible characters within narrative context. Unpublished M.Min.-dissertation. Pretoria: Commonwealth Open University.
Scheepers, C.A. (2003) The exploitation of practical sociology as counselling model for application in a Christian-Holistic founded practice. Unpublished Ph.D.-thesis. Pretoria: Commonwealth Open University.
Scheepers, C.A. (2007) Holistic Wellness: A Christian omnibus for whole-person wellbeing. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.
Christo A. Scheepers: Specialist Wellness Counsellor | Freelance Academic
Dip.ICBC (USA), Dip.Psych.(INTEC), Dip.R.(Cum Laude)(AC), Dip.T.R.(Cum Laude)(IARAMT), B.Min.(Cum Laude)(THEOLOGOS), B.Th.(SATS), M.Min.(Cum Laude)(CLT), M.B.A.(MANCOSA), Ph.D.(COU), D.R.T.P.(USB), Ph.D. Candidate (DA VINCI), D.Nat.Med.(SACNM)
ASCHP: SWC19/413 | APS: 19372 | ETDP SETA: SOR189239 | SAIMS: SCHC02
Tel. 072-800 7243