Trauma-Informed Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a form of body work and includes awareness of body posture, breathing and exercise. Self-care suggestions may include dietary and exercise information. The body work uses simple pressure and stretches on various parts of the body. Shiatsu is calm and relaxing in nature and yet can have a dynamic effect as the body begins to re-adjust itself and healing takes place.

The shiatsu delivered at WestCASA is called Trauma Informed Shiatsu. It is informed by the most up to date information about body physiology and how this is impacted by trauma… what happens to the body when it experiences trauma, which parts of the body are affected by either shutting down or becoming more active.

The intention in providing shiatsu to individuals within WestCASA is to promote a more positive relationship between an individual and their body: to increase feelings of body comfort and acceptance.

People participate in shiatsu fully clothed.

How does trauma informed Shiatsu therapy work?

What happens to the body at the time of the trauma can become ‘stuck’ in the body… the energy of the trauma is not fully discharged. It is held as body memory which can appear as a recurring pattern and over time can contribute to both mental and physical symptoms. Such symptoms are a natural response to undischarged trauma.

Trauma informed Shiatsu attempts to address these physical symptoms and emotional sensations, to assist the body to integrate as a functioning whole once again. It combines understanding of the known physiological reactions with shiatsu techniques that have been developed from a theoretical basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

How does Trauma Informed Shiatsu help me with my trauma?

Shiatsu for people who have experienced trauma can generally contribute in:

  • Soothing physical symptoms
  • Increasing emotional stability, wellbeing, life-joy and life-quality
  • Releasing energy-blockages and regaining connections
  •  Strengthening body awareness, self-esteem and the ability to draw clear boundaries

Generally, shiatsu will promote peaceful feelings in the body, as it is touch delivered in a safe and appropriate manner. Sometimes, if the body needs to discharge long held tensions, it might shake or tremble, or there may be tears. This is a normal response to the release of trauma.

Trauma Informed Shiatsu is flexible to your needs

Our Trauma Informed Shiatsu practitioner works together with each individual to create a safe, supportive and flexible atmosphere for the shiatsu to take place in. Care is taken to give as much choice as possible. If someone is not ready to receive direct touch but would still like to explore body-focussed techniques, there will be an offer to engage in off-body techniques which may involve grounding, stretching, breathing … whatever might be appropriate for the individual.

There is a futon in the Body Based Therapy Room for those who feel comfortable with lying down, but others might prefer to sit in a chair to receive the shiatsu. Individuals can discuss with the practitioner what feels right for them. Participants remain fully clothed throughout the sessions and when on the futon they are also covered by a light rug. The sessions proceed slowly… at a pace that feels right for each person.

The Trauma Informed Shiatsu practitioner works together with each individual to discover what approach is best, actively encourages input into the sessions and supports you to be in control.


Jess, Shiatsu Therapist

Jess is a female Shiatsu Therapist. Her pronouns are she/her/hers.

We are excited to have Jess as our new and passionate Trauma Informed Shiatsu practitioner at WestCASA this year, following on from the great work of Alex Caldwell.

Jess has worked as the resident Shiatsu Therapist with CoHealth’s Victims of Crime program for a number of years and is currently undertaking further studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine at RMIT University.

Jess has an ongoing mentorship with Alex Caldwell with a focus on supporting those who have experienced trauma.

Jess volunteers with general practitioners who treat refugees experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder using ear acupuncture.

Jess also has a private clinic that you can find more about here: