Physiotherapy: Body-Centred Approach to Working with Victims of Torture and Trauma

By Veena O’Sullivan (Physiotherapist)* - BAppSc (Phty), MAppSc (Phty), Grad Dip (Counselling)

Physical pain is rarely an isolated sensation, and is almost always accompanied by emotion and meaning. Traumatised clients tend to dissociate traumatic memory from feelings, as well as accompanying physiological sensations. Thus the emotional trauma gets trapped in the body, often somatised in the form of chronic physical pain. Clients are not necessarily able to identify that this is so, as the process is usually unconscious.

In our physiotherapy sessions I guide clients to gain some insights as to how the body sensations, the feelings and images from traumatic experiences are inter-related. In doing so, clients gain a clearer awareness of the body-mind connections, and thereby are able to better understand how to prevent and/or release pain.

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*Veena O’Sullivan has been a registered physiotherapist since 1981.  She is a Sydney University graduate, with both undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications in physiotherapy (Bachelor and Master Degrees). She also has a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. 

She has worked both in Australia and overseas, with wide experience in clinical and academic settings. Currently, she works both in private physiotherapy practice and at STARTTS**.

**STARTTS- Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, Sydney Australia. 

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