Body Based Interventions in Sexual Assault

A Pilot Program Evaluation

Tara Schintler and Georgia Taylor

The impact of a person’s experience of trauma on the body and the limitations of talk-based interventions to adequately address all aspects of trauma has been well documented (Fisher & Ogden, 2009; Levine, 1997; Rothschild, 2000; Van der Kolk, 1996).

Despite the correlation between trauma and the body, the sexual assault field has been slow to develop responses that have a body specific focus.

This paper will outline a body-based pilot program that WestCASA delivered to female participants in 2009, comprising fourteen weeks of shiatsu therapy and an eight week yoga group. The experiences of participants, body-based practitioners and counsellor/advocates will be reflected and evaluation findings summarised.

Outcomes indicated improved affect regulation, increased body awareness and reduction of trauma symptoms for participants. Learnings from providing a body-based program alongside talk-based therapy within a sexual assault service suggest the benefits of such a union.

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