Since 2003 The Trauma Centre in Brookline Massachusetts has been offering a very particular form of yoga to a variety of complex trauma survivors, including war veterans, sexual assault survivors, at-risk youth and survivors of chronic childhood abuse and neglect.

The practice is called Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga or TCTSY.

TCTSY is now a recognised as an evidence-based intervention by for Complex PTSD by SAMHSA - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. For more information on the evidence base of TCTSY, please visit The Yoga Clinic (UK) research page.

TCTSY Facilitators (TCTSY-F) are trained, supervised and held to account for the ethics and quality of their practice, through the Trauma Centre, Boston. For more details please see here.

TCTSY is offered both individually and in small groups.

8 Week TCTSY Groups run throughout the year - Please see here for details.


having a body

In TCTSY we explore physical shapes and movements as an opportunity to practice noticing sensations. What one feels is an entirely subjective experience and for this reason there is no right or wrong way to 'do' a yoga shape.

Just inhabiting my own skin is a major step forward....My not being able to get into my own skin was something that I did early on just to survive.
— TCTSY Student

owning one's body

During the practice you'll also be invited to explore:

  • making choices about how to be in a shape, eg. turning to the right or the left

  • making these choices based on what you notice you feel & what you want to feel

I just really suddenly got the idea that I have a body and that I have control over it and that I’m the one that decides what my body does or doesn’t do.
— TCTSY Student

i have a body...you have a body

Subjective experiences are at the heart TCTSY so when we practice with other people it becomes a practice of 'being and allowing the other to be'.

This relational dynamic is central to TCTSY and is the opposite of trauma relationships. It is an opportunity to practice not trauma.

“Recovery can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation.
In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience.
These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy.
— Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery

additional tctsy practices

Because there is no right or wrong way to make a shape in TCTSY a Facilitator has no need to:

  • change a participant's shape - this is a no touch practice; your body is your own

  • judge the participant - Facilitators often practice with their own eyes shut

  • move around the room

Because the practice tries to avoid traumatising dynamics:

  • every single shape will be offered as a genuine invitation

  • our language avoids metaphors or imagery - eg. stand like a rock, be tall like a tree. We have no idea of our clients associations with these images

  • for a similar reason TCTSY doesn't make use of music, Sanskrit, incense, candles, yoga blocks or straps

  • we do not offer interpretations of a clients experience - clients are often vulnerable to accepting someone else's story about them

  • to offer this practice we do not need to know what has happened to you & we will not ask you

  • Facilitators practice alongside of a client, genuinely noticing sensations & trying to make their own authentic choices. In this way we offer the option of being with someone who is not lying


safety

We are mindful of how hard 'having a body' can be. For this reason it's important that TCTSY clients are in therapy & that they are at a point in their lives that feels relatively stable & safe.

You can read a little more about our intake processes here.

An introduction to the TCTSY practice - Jenn Turner, Assistant Director of Yoga Services, The Trauma Centre at JRI.


PLEASE NOTE:

TCTSY is not considered useful if:

  • you have needed a hospitalisation within the last 6 months, for trauma related experiences

  • you are not currently in an established therapeutic relationship (4-6 months) in which you are able to verbally process your experiences

Please see here for current 8 Week TCTSY Groups.


A description of trauma-sensitive yoga as an adjunct treatment for trauma and PTSD as used at the Trauma Center of Brookline, Massachusetts and described by the authors of Overcoming Trauma through Yoga.