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movement for healing & resilience

tctsy & movement for healing

what is TCTSY and how can it help?

TCTSY is facilitated movement practice

TCTSY stands for Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

TCTSY is evidence based

TCTSY is a movement-based therapeutic intervention for complex trauma, and can also be used as a resilience-building practice for various forms of trauma and adverse experiences. TCTSY is not a prescriptive intervention. There isn’t a particular set of outcomes that a facilitator brings into a session. That said, the purpose of TCTSY and what has guided development of the model is to empower trauma survivors with the opportunity to make choices. One possible outcome of regular practice that may be useful to participants is development of interoceptive awareness or the conscious perception of one’s internal feeling. When a survivor begins to have a feeling of safety and agency in their body, processing their trauma in other forms of therapy may become more accessible.

TCTSY looks like a movement practice

TCTSY is a movement-based therapeutic intervention for complex trauma and resilience-building practice for various forms of trauma and adverse experiences. TCTSY is not a prescriptive intervention. There isn’t a particular set of outcomes that a facilitator brings into a session. That said, the purpose of TCTSY and what has guided development of the model is to empower trauma survivors with the opportunity to make choices. One possible outcome of regular practice that may be useful to participants is development of interoceptive awareness or the conscious perception of one’s internal feeling. When a survivor begins to have a feeling of safety and agency in their body, processing their trauma in other forms of therapy may become more accessible.

Core components of TCTSY

Invitation

Within the practice, facilitators offer every form and movement as an invitation, such as “if you would like to,” “you’re welcome to”. In an effort to share power in as many ways as we can, facilitators do not use command-based language. At the heart of TCTSY is understanding what creates the experience of trauma  for each individual and doing the opposite. Inviting someone into movement and making choices is way of not exercising control over them.

Choice

Facilitators invite choice making, offering a limited set of options to choose from, while also naming that options not expressly offered are always on the table. Trauma is an “extreme lack of choice” (Herman, 1992) and with complex trauma, that often shows up in not making choices for yourself even when you can. The protective behavior sticks. Offering choices within the movements and forms (e.g., “you could take the movement from standing or seated,” “you might do movement A or movement B”) is about empowering the survivor. Practicing making choices can lead to improved self-regulation abilities (“taking effective action”).

Present Moment Experience

Facilitators offer opportunities to notice present-moment experience through sensations and breathing. The bodily function at work here is interoception, aka perception of internal experience. Cultivating one’s interoception is a means to regain or develop awareness of self (both self in terms of biological functions and in terms of identity). Dysregulated body systems, dissociation, and difficulty coping with sensations are common symptoms in complex trauma.

Shared Authentic Experience

Shared authentic experience is what we call facilitators and participants each having their own unique experience in the practice, while practicing together. Facilitators experience the forms and movements along with the practitioners rather than serving as an observer or evaluator (common in “regular” yoga classes). Sharing time, space, and activity while each person is having their own experiences through choices and present-moment experience is another way we strive to share power in the TCTCY class.

Non-Coercion

Facilitators strive to remove any suggestion of coercion or manipulation, through the forms they offer, the language they use, how they show up in tone of voice, body language, and attire; and how they relate to participants through space, place, and other environmental factors over which we have control. TCTSY does not use physical assists, value-based language (“strong,“ “calm,“ “good,“ “bad“), or goal-driven practice sequences. We avoid centering facilitator intention or objective (e.g. in language, “I invite you to,” “I suggest that you”).

Additional themes in TCTSY

Participants may also end up practicing taking effective action and creating rhythms.

Taking Effective Action

Taking effective action happens when one combines interoception and choice. When we make a choice because of something we feel and want to respond to or change, that’s effective action (the action effected change that was desired). For example, if while doing a particular movement a participant notices a sensation (interoception), they have the choice to stay with it or change their form, perhaps to create a change in the sensation (effective action). This might look like shifting to explore or lessen discomfort. In everyday life, it might look like noticing hunger and choosing to eat something.

Creating Rhythms

Part of “normal” development includes developing a sense of rhythm in one’s body (intrapersonal rhythm), organizing movement and contributing to a sense of self. It also includes how we relate to others through movement (interpersonal rhythm). Trauma can disrupt this development. Facilitators might offer opportunities to notice rhythm in movement through timing or pacing choices.

healing is possible

  • opportunity to practice making choices

    Practicing yoga has given me hope. … It's been a useful practice and tool to develop those things which has led me to think I don't have to be that person that I always thought I was just destined to be, that I could actually change some things, and become the person that I've wanted to be. The trauma doesn't have to define me, although the trauma will always be part of me. I can change. I can change how I work, and how I want to be.
  • Movement Practice

    The constant reminders to go at your own pace and to listen to your body for what it needs — when it's ready to turn or how far it wants to turn — that was super helpful and has extended in so many other places in my life. Yoga classes I have taken other places, I have heard people say, “You can push yourself; you don't realize what your body can do. Just push it.” I feel like that's the kind of thing I have been doing my whole life. What is so valuable about this yoga class is that it was not about pushing yourself. It was about letting yourself get there in your own time.
  • invitation

    Being more gentle with myself and instead of -- often when I had a symptom, not only would I be reacting to the trigger, but also judging myself for reacting to the trigger and thinking, I am an adult I should be over this by now and stuff like that. [The practice in yoga of] making your way slowly there and just being really gentle with yourself, whenever I am ready, that has helped me so that when I do feel triggered I feel like I can judge myself less, and be like alright, so this is how I feel right now and when I am ready to not feel that way anymore that will happen without pushing myself so hard.
  • Choice

    I make conscious decisions now about my son, to raise him differently than how I was raised. So I can see that there are choices and options. You can be gentle in the world and [yoga] helps you see that. …There are choices.
  • Present Moment Experience

    I was always disconnected from my body. I was always on autopilot. I wasn't able to feel if I was injured. I would completely ignore being hungry. If I was tired I wasn't able to rationalize going to bed. All those things seemed reasonable because they were normal.
  • Shared Authentic Experience

    The most important thing was being able to connect and not being fearful to connect because there were times when I couldn't. One example is that [the yoga teacher] got me to stretch my arms out even with my shoulders, which I had not been able to do. It was a fear. And the thing that I notice the most is because I was able to extend my arms out I was able to hug people, to invite someone to have a hug. [This made me feel] happy.
  • Non-Coercion

    Every time I go to [yoga] class, I am more comfortable in other situations saying what I want, and not feeling like I have to read the other person, and do what they want. That I can just go, I want to do this. … It makes me more able to be aware of what I want. 

    Even taking yoga classes at other places I feel like I try to hear that voice [of the Trauma Sensitive teacher] even when they are not saying it. Often they are saying hold this pose, you can stay in it longer. I'm like, no I'm ready to leave [this pose] or I am going to move into a different pose.
  • Taking Effective Action

    The whole mind-body connection thing really became the focus of my [healing], and my outlook. . . . I'd have to say I never made any goals, as if I didn't have a future. I guess because I didn't have a self. I have made some goals, and I've had some accomplishments, so I think it's helped with that. 

    I think yoga's helped allowing there to be space between when something happens and my reaction. Because for a long time I didn't have that space to sort of make what I call a rational judgment, it was just based on sort of an emotional [reaction], or a habit. It's allowed me to pause and have that moment to say, okay well I don't have to react this way, or this person didn't mean it this way, and have that little bit of time to think about [my] reaction.
  • Creating Rhythms

    Sometimes when I felt triggered it was like somebody else used this body and it doesn't feel good, and I will never feel good. And now I can stretch and feel good. That can be really helpful. If I feel like I am dissociating to be like, okay these are my hands, this is my body, and even that there are things that my body can do. Instead of feeling like my mind and body are aliens to each other, being like, well look, I can stretch and touch my toes now. Who would have thought that possible? I feel like I have more ownership of my body and feel more of a part of it.
experiences with TCTSY shared by research study participants

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