Dance and music can help you heal trauma. Picture: Pexels

World Trauma Day, which is commemorated around the world on October 17 focuses on what happens to people when they are exposed to life-threatening or traumatic experiences.

Commenting on the significance of the day, specialist self-care and trauma coach, Leigh Joy Mansel-Pleydell shares research and insights on how trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with advice on how people can heal themselves and reclaim their lives.

PTSD side effects include flashbacks, high anxiety, personality changes, startle responses, mood swings, and disturbed sleep, and although typically treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy, there are a number of alternative healing options.  

Mansel-Playdell says that PTSD and trauma does not have to signify the end. “Rather healing from trauma is often the beginning of a profound journey into self-love, acceptance and a revival of compassion, grace and joy.”

Alternative remedies such as physical exercise and movement can assist with PTSD, as well as anxiety and depression. As a proponent of alternative healing, Mansel-Pleydell proposes three healing modalities to assist with the trauma of sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse:

Tension and Trauma, Releasing Exercises: (TRE)

TRE is a series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. TRE works on the premise that the body is put through gentle physical exercises to encourage the muscles to shake or tremble. “Whilst lying down you have to shake the trauma out of the body”. 

Mansel-Pleydell and TRE practitioners believe that trauma sits in the cellular memory of the body. “This trembling helps shake the trauma lose in the body, allowing one to let it go. The trauma that sits in the body triggers memories, and the person relives the trauma. With TRE, trembling helps release trauma from the body, and therefore memories aren't triggered as much as the person goes through deep healing,” she explains.

Physical healing:

Gabby Metcalf from Sandton Scuba runs a swimming and deep-sea diving school in Norscot, Johannesburg. Gabby believes that scuba diving can help people overcome trauma. "By challenging yourself to do something outside of her comfort zone, people can manage to overcome trauma," said Metcalf.   

Dance and Music

Another alternative form of healing from trauma is Biodanza which means the “Dance of Life”. Biodanza is a form of free-movement which uses dance and music to promote self-awareness, restore health and vitality, reconnect to purpose and realize the full capacity of human potential. 

“Biodanza is similar to TRE, in that through movement, trauma is released from the cells. Music is also a vital aspect of healing,” says Mansel-Pleydell.

“In my coaching practice, I have successfully married these modalities, combined with talk therapy which helps my clients' process and release latent trauma and release it from their bodies, minds and hearts. The ultimate aim of these alternative methods is to help my clients become the person, that they always believed they could become,” she concludes.