14 modalities to reset your brain after trauma

This post contains discussions about mental health that may be upsetting or triggering for trauma survivors. If you are at risk for serious depression, anxiety, emotional instability, or self-harm, consider reading this post in the company of a trusted, trauma-informed supporter.

In this final post of our series about understanding how trauma transforms our brain, I am providing a list of 14 modalities to help you turn off your trauma response so you can move forward with your life. In the preceding weeks, we discussed:

  • How we get trapped in toxic circumstances
  • Naming, blaming, and the uncluttered subconscious
  • The six types of trauma
  • Understanding emotions

If you missed any of these sessions, I encourage you to head over to the blog at redefine-love.com. My blogs are relatively short, easy to read, and packed with useful information that we all need to live with boundaries, accountability, and grace.

Somatic healing

As I was compiling this list of brain reset modalities, I focused heavily on somatic methods. Somatic healing utilizes movement, touch, and intentional action in the body to heal the nervous system.

More and more, neuroscientists are discovering that the modern human experience creates a disconnect between the mind and the body. When we can bring our mind and body back into synchrony, trauma and tension is released. This allows space for new information, new learning, new experiences, and new relationships to form.

Getting unstuck

That feeling of being “stuck” isn’t just in your imagination. But it is in your head. And your body. Our brains and bodies work together to process trauma. When you weren’t able to safely remove yourself from the traumatic experience, your body wasn’t able to complete the action necessary to move the trauma through and out.

And thus, your body and brain are literally stuck there in that traumatic experience. This explains why you keep repeating the same patterns, why you live in fear or anger or perpetual sadness (depression). Your body hasn’t done the right movement to release it. The goal of all of these modalities listed here is to get your brain and body unstuck.


Before you start exploring somatic healing, there is one step you must take that is absolutely crucial. You must name your trauma. You can do all the yoga, all the tapping, all the movement and try all the modalities outlined below, but if you haven’t identified the root of your trauma, you aren’t going to make any progress.

Many people think talk therapy is useless. They’ve talked and talked and never gotten anywhere. Here are two possible reasons for this:

  • You’re talking around your trauma. Digging in and getting really honest about trauma is painful. It isn’t uncommon to want to avoid it. Unfortunately, if you aren’t willing to name it and get really raw and real, you are just running in circles, wasting your time and money on therapy. There is no way to go around trauma. You have to walk through it. For more information on naming your trauma, visit this blog post: Naming, blaming, and the uncluttered subconscious.
  • You’re not moving. This isn’t about exercise, folks. Sometimes (often, actually) healing is found in micromovements such as shifting your eyes back and forth or tapping your fingers. Exercise is good for physical health, and it can also be amazing for mental health as well. We hear stories of people having breakthroughs while hiking the Appalachian Trail or kickboxing. But there are also people who do these things to avoid dealing with their trauma.

So, again, we get back to naming our experiences. If, for example, during your hike you imagine yourself walking away from your abusive childhood, that could be very healing. Because walking away was what your body wanted to do when you were a kid, but you needed that roof over your head, or you craved that attention from your parents, even if they weren’t loving and didn’t meet your needs.

Kickboxing might do the trick if, while you are punching that bag, you are imagining fighting back against your rapist or that bully on the playground. The key is not simply to move. It is to combine the right movement with the cold, hard truth of your trauma. For more information on trauma and its effects on the brain, visit these two blog posts: The Six Types of Trauma and Understanding Emotions.

For a safe way to begin stepping into your trauma, check out the blog post Talking to Your Wounded Self, then get in touch with me for a guided mediation on wounded self.

Intentional movement

The combination of naming your trauma and intentional movement can be a powerful release of negative energy and toxic patterns. The word intentional is important. It isn’t just about moving your body. Somatic healing is about moving with the intention of releasing negative thoughts and worldviews caused by past traumatic experiences.

If you are currently in talk therapy and you aren’t seeing progress, ask your therapist about somatic healing. They might be able to help you identify where you should focus your thoughts during movement, and guide you towards the movement that is both safe and effective to finally break free from your past. Or, they can help you come to a place of emotional regulation while talking and thinking about your trauma so you can safely integrate your trauma experiences into your movement or exercise routine.


Notice that I keep talking about safely integrating your experiences with movement. That’s because, if you jump into reliving your trauma without trauma-informed support in place, you could send yourself into a serious downward spiral, or fall into old, unhealthy coping patterns like substance abuse and self-harm.

If you aren’t sure how to connect with a trauma-informed guide through somatic healing, please reach out. And, if you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911, or in the U.S. call the new suicide and crisis hotline at 988. Help is available nationwide 24/7! You don’t have to do this alone.   

You’re ready to heal.

Once you have your trauma-informed support team in place, you’re ready to try some somatic healing modalities. The trick is figuring out which modality is right for you. I’ve compiled a list of options for you to consider. There are countless somatic healing modalities available, so this list is just a sampling of what’s available.

In simplest terms, mindfulness means to be intentionally present in the moment. When combined with somatic movement such as breathwork (see below) it can be a powerful source of self-awareness and self-compassion.

Breathing is an unconscious exercise, but there are ways to bring intentionality to your breath that can be very healing for trauma survivors. A guided breathwork session with a trained practitioner can tap into hidden trauma and regulate the nervous system.

Sound Therapy
Soothing sounds, music, and instruments are combined with meditation and self-reflection to safely release held trauma and stress.

Sensory Integration
Occupational therapists have long used sensory integration techniques to treat children diagnosed with autism. But it’s now being used in combination with other therapies to treat trauma survivors. This method uses our five senses – hearing, taste, touch, smell, and sight – to integrate a disassociated person in a triggered state. This can include aromatherapy, essential oils, music, cooking, art, and color therapy, among others.

Somatic Hypnotherapy
Therapeutic hypnosis involves a guided deep meditation that walks you through your traumatic experience to locate the places in your body where the trauma is held. Through movement and imagery, the practitioner guides you to act out a safe alternative ending to your experience.

Massage Therapy
A trauma-informed massage therapist can help release trauma that is trapped in your body. There are many types of massage, including reflexology, lymphatic, myofascial, deep tissue, and others. Each seeks to relieve a certain type of tension, so be mindful when you are choosing which method, and don’t be afraid to try several types.

A trained practitioner uses small needles to access trigger points within the body, releasing held trauma. It is especially effective for survivors who suffer from chronic pain due. Once considered an alternative healing technique, acupuncture is becoming widely accepted and is even covered by some health insurance plans.

The goal of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is to provide the brain alternative beliefs and memories so that trauma can be released. Together with the practitioner, healthy beliefs and action words are identified to replace trauma-related beliefs and memories. Then, using eye movement, sometimes combined with tapping and sounds, clients are lead through the experience in short doses while focused on the external stimulus.

Practitioner guides the client to identify trauma stored and hidden throughout the body. Once the unconscious beliefs are located, the practitioner helps the client to release it through somatic movement.

EFT Tapping
Emotional Freedom Technique is a modality that uses tapping with the fingertips on pressure points to release trauma. It can be used on it’s own, or accompanied with an affirmation. Tapping can be used to treat a variety of emotional and physical ailments, from chronic pain to PTSD, and is a useful go-to tool to use in moments of high stress or trigger.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is based on the idea that our bodies communicate just as much about our experiences as our words. During a session, an NLP practitioner will interview you about a specific habit or concern you would like to change, paying special attention to your words but also your mannerisms and movements. The NLP system is based on rapport, sensory awareness, outcome thinking, and behavioral flexibility to reprogram new, healthier habits.

This energy healing modality taps into the body’s vital energy source. Some practitioners use gentle touch, and others tune into energy fields without touch, which makes it a great option for trauma survivors who are uncomfortable with hands-on treatments. Practitioners use their hands to remove energy blocks and deliver energy to problem areas, bringing balance to your nervous system.

Resonance Repatterning
This modality relies on the law of physics – specifically the idea that all matter is energy. By tuning into a person’s energy frequency, Resonance Repatterning practitioners use somatic methods such as tapping and color therapy to repattern energy around specific trauma experiences.

Trauma-Informed Yoga
A trauma-informed yoga instructor offers students a safe environment and guidance through their trauma experiences, noticing poses that trigger and creating a sense of grounding to help survivors feel secure as they integrate their mind and body into their yoga practice.

Dance and music has long been known to be very good for mental health. A trauma-informed dance instructor can help you dance your way through your traumatic experience so it can be released.

Intention is the KEY

It can’t be overstated that releasing trauma is all about intentional movement. Our bodies are incredibly wise. If you are experiencing chronic pain, focus on what parts of your body hurt the most. Is it your neck, your shoulder, your hands? Whatever is hurting is the part of your body that needs to be moved, stretched, or loved-on during your somatic healing journey.

People who are stuck in a freeze response may feel frozen in place when they are triggered. Sometimes, just moving your eyes back and forth can regulate your body enough where you can take a deep breath, then tap your fingers on your leg, and slowly pull out of the frozen state.

Since the goal of somatic therapy is to integrate your mind and body, any movement or touch that successfully releases held trauma and tension could be a somatic therapy. Check out this quick video by my friend and wholistic healer Colleen Fletcher for a few unique examples of mindful touch that can bring more awareness to those who feel disconnected from their bodies due to trauma.

I recently met with Colleen and we brainstormed some simple movement that trauma survivors can start doing right now to safely manage trauma triggers as they arise, and bring yourself back to the present moment. These include:

  • Go for a walk
  • Shake it out
  • Stretch
  • Move your eyes
  • Dance
  • Deep breath
  • Touch the tension points (see the above linked video for a few examples)

If you have any questions about which somatic therapy is right for you, please reach out! I’d love to work with you, or I can help guide you to practitioners in your area.

Learn more...

To learn more about the Redefining Love Way, I encourage you to browse the site. Have questions? Feel free to email me at sara@sarabethwald.com, or schedule a free discovery call. 

For more information on how to join the Redefining Love Community, please visit redefine-love.com/coaching.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top