How we work
a statement on Bodies
Our bodies are good. They are intelligent and intuitive, and they know what they need. Many of us, however, have had traumatic or painful experiences that interfere with our ability to feel and access our deep body knowledge. These disconnections may have developed in response to physical trauma, such as car accidents or work injuries, or even as the result of overtraining in a sport or performing art that we love. Emotionally, mentally, or sexually traumatic experiences can also cause us to disconnect from our bodies, causing physical repercussions that may be long lasting. Another source of interference with our intuitive body knowledge may be the rigid, narrow societal standards for how our bodies “should” look and function. Many of us have learned to see our bodies as ‘wrong’ or ‘not enough’ in a variety of ways.
At Raven Bodywork, we center the belief that our bodies are good and whole just as they are. During each massage therapy and bodywork session, we focus on connecting with and following the innate wisdom of your individual body. When we follow the lead of your body, rather than imposing an external idea of how it should shift and change, we are able to facilitate the release of your pain and tension more effectively. By helping you unwind, shift and heal at your own pace and in your own unique way, we also hold space for you to connect with your body at a deeper level. When you experience this connection to your own bodily wisdom during our sessions together, you can continue to shift in ways that support your well-being outside of our sessions.
Consent based & Trauma Informed
At Raven Bodywork, we center your bodily autonomy; you are the only person who has the right and ability to say what you do and do not want for your body, and what does and does not feel good and helpful.
Informed consent = having enough information about a decision to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with clarity and enthusiasm. We strive to give you all of the information you need help you make an informed decision about your treatment during each massage session. Prior to each session, we discuss your goals for the massage and the potential benefits of using various modalities, and then we decide on a course of action together, centering your needs and desires. During the massage, we check in to make sure that the treatment styles and the level of pressure are working for you. We pay attention to your non-verbal cues, and also encourage you to tell us verbally if you want more or less pressure, more or less in a specific area, and/or to give us any feedback that will improve your experience.
By centering your autonomy, we support your ability to be present in your body. This is an essential part of the healing process for everyone, and is particularly vital for those of us that have experienced trauma. As trauma-informed massage therapists, we know that many of the people we work with carry the effects of trauma, and that massage and bodywork can help to process the physical effects of these experiences. Whether the trauma we suffered was physical, emotional, sexual or mental, it can have significant and lasting impacts on our bodies. Without needing to discuss your experiences, we can support you in processing and unwinding the physical patterns that may still be causing pain and discomfort.**
**If you are working through significant life trauma, you may want to consider working with a mental health therapist in addition to massage therapy and other healing modalities. As massage therapists, we can work with the patterns that arise in your body, but we cannot provide any kind of talk or behavioral therapy.
We strive to create a practice that is welcoming and supportive for people of all genders. This includes trans, non-binary and genderfluid people, as well as men and women. For those of us whose do not align with the binary gender system, and/or with the gender we were assigned at birth, receiving massage therapy and bodywork can be a particularly vulnerable experience. If you are trans, non-binary, genderfluid and/or gender queer, you may have experienced stigmatization of your body and gender identity in medical settings and/or in the wider world. Raven Bodywork is a place where you can bring your full gender expression, and have your body cared for with joyful affirmation.
For folks who have received gender-affirming top surgery, a combination of lymphatic massage and scar tissue massage can help to decrease acute swelling, increase range of motion over time, decrease pain and discomfort associated with the surgery, and address physical discomfort that may have developed over time due to your body parts being misaligned with your gender identify.
Gabriel has a certification in Breast Massage that allows them to work directly on the soft tissue in the chest region; their training in lymphatic massage and myofascial release also gives them the tools to support you pre and post surgery.
Fat Positive & Size Affirming: Health at every size
Raven Bodywork is in alignment with the principles of Health At Every Size (HAES), an international movement to promote well-being by celebrating body diversity, honoring people’s lived experiences and intuitive body knowledge, and focusing on joyful movement. The HAES Pledge states:
Celebrate body diversity
Honor differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class and other human attributes
Challenge scientific and cultural assumptions about weight and body size
Value body knowledge and people’s lived experiences
Find the joy in moving one’s body and being physically active
Eat in a flexible and attuned manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite, while respecting the social conditions that frame eating options
Why is the HAES philosophy relevant to massage therapy?
Cultivating an environment where all bodies, forms of movement, and lived experiences are celebrated is necessary and vital to creating a joyful healing environment. Unfortunately, many of us have experienced shame about the appearance, abilities or condition of our bodies while receiving healthcare, and massage therapy is no exception. This is especially true for people in larger bodies, gender queer, non-binary, or trans bodies, dis/abled bodies, black and brown bodies, and older bodies. My intention is to actively counteract this pattern in my massage practice. When we feel positive about our bodies, we are able to develop stronger connections with our bodies, and this leads to powerful healing and thriving.