Read / Download / Share FIRST AID FOR EMOTIONAL TRAUMA, An Icarus Project Information sheet.
Feeling Body Sensations: Key to Trauma First Aid
Trauma cuts us off from our bodies. When we are in overwhelming danger, we dissociate or ‘leave our bodies’ as a protective measure. Later this protective mechanism becomes stuck and counterproductive. The key to healing trauma is to return to our bodies, by feeling our physical sensations and making our bodies safe and alive again.
Ask, “How do you know that you are sad? Is there tightness in your chest or throat? How do you know you are afraid? Is there a cold feeling, or a sinking feeling in your stomach? Feel it fully. How large is the feeling? Is it changing? What do you feel next?” Listen without interruption and give plenty of time to feel and respond. Grounding and resourcing yourself will also help the other person.
Keeping eyes open usually is best for focusing on body sensations.
If the person can’t feel their body at all, ask, “Can you feel your feet on the ground? Your pelvis sitting on the chair?” Grasp their hand or shoulder and say “Can you feel my hand?” Always ask before touching. If lying down, ask them to sit up. Ask to walk around slowly and feel their legs and feet. Or gently hold & press their feet to the ground.