What Is Trauma Sensitive Yoga?

Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) is an evidence-based, adjunctive treatment for complex trauma and PTSD. Individuals who have experienced trauma and sought out therapy may have found that their bodies were forgotten or overlooked in the process, which is significant especially when considering research from psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, MD. In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, we learn overwhelming experiences can stay with us and our bodies can actually hold onto and store trauma. 

TCTSY brings the body into the therapy process to promote agency and whole-body healing. 

Learn more about TCTSY's foundations and how the method is being used to treat complex trauma by reading on. 

Where Was TCTSY Created? 

TCTSY was developed at the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA, in 2002 (although sessions didn't begin until 2003) and is a program of Center for Trauma and Embodiment at Justice Resource Institute.

The TCTSY program qualified for inclusion in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) database published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

What's the Intention Behind TCTSY? 

According to the Justice Resource Institute (JRI), which created TCTSY and offers classes on the method, the intention of this model is to create a space for survivors to explore choice and empowerment in their bodies in a safe, inclusive, and inviting space. 

How Is TCTSY Different Than a Typical Yoga Class?

TCTSY does use physical yoga poses and movement during a session, although there's no need or requirement to ensure these poses are being done correctly or "right". There's no focus on an individual's overall appearance in a session, instead, the focus is on what's going on for the individual internally. This shift in orientation, from the external to the internal, is a key attribute of TCTSY. The power resides with the individual, not the teacher. 

The focus is on helping participants reconnect with their minds and bodies to restore the agency they may have lost due to a traumatic event. 

Physical adjustments also aren't a part of this type of yoga and all TCTSY practitioners must agree to and adhere to a code of ethics, known as Ways of Being. 

Why Is TCTSY Choice-Focused? 

TCTSY is focused on allowing the participant to make choices during a session, whether that's to raise their arms, breathe deeper, or skip a movement entirely. Trauma can negatively affect your ability to have agency over your body or make choices for yourself, so TCTSY was created to help you take back your ability to make decisions over your own body. 

Is TCTSY a Complementary Treatment for PTSD?

Yes! In 2018, the United States government removed the federal listing of evidence-based practices and replaced it with a general reference to yoga as a "complementary therapy" for PTSD.

How Do You Become a TCTSY Facilitator/Teacher?

You can learn more about TCTSY's training programs online. Their 200-hour Certification Program is open to certified yoga teachers, licensed mental health care professionals, and community providers. All applicants must have completed Foundational Training. They also offer a concurrent Latinx / Spanish-speaking program. 

Our Yoga4Good founder Tori Morrison is currently halfway done with her TCTSY training certificate and can't wait to take the next step. 
To learn more about TCTSY, be sure to head to their website. And click here to make a donation to  The Center for Trauma and Embodiment at JRI.

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