Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Reflexology

During my practice in Reflexology in Israel, I was interested in searching for common symptoms among Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients which can be treated the same way.

As a start, I contacted “Beit-Halochem”, a large institute  which provides treatments to wounded warriors, who many of them suffer from PTSD. The process took 12 sessions of reflexology for each of 10 veterans, all of whom had been taking pills from the psychiatrist for couple of years.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope..    Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal—such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hyper-vigilance.     (wikipedia 2012)


Veterans who suffer from PTSD are very sensitive. In order to protect themselves and to continue a normal life as much as they can, they build many defenses.

During their military service, each one of them was a very tough warrior with big dreams and plans about themselves, about what they wanted to do and to be. However when the trauma attacked them and the symptoms started, they couldn't do anything to fight back and their emotions took over.

Reflexology is great for people who suffer from PTSD because of its ability to take care of the body and the soul - those two important parts injured by the trauma. The Reflexologist can ease the pain with a gentle touch and can release the nervous system from that stress. Foot Reflexology is focused on the feet only, so people who fear close touch can relax if the practitioner sits “far” from them and touches the extremities. The gentle touch along with the relaxed and safe environment - can make clients comfortable enough to lie on the table, talk about themselves, and not only in connection with the trauma. 

We can see a common health issues that take place with most of PTSD patients like anxiety disorder, flashback from the trauma, jitters, obsessive thoughts and spine problem, especially lower back (our base).

We can see that being in control is a primary issue. Veterans with PTSD lost control of their lives when the trauma happened and from that point they believe they must protect themselves against losing control again.

In reflexology, we have a map of one’s reflex organs that tells us about the functioning of all of them as well as the meridians and the four elements that can tell us about the emotional condition. To do so, reflexology divides the feet into four element areas: ground, water, fire, and air. Each of those areas can show us the emotional condition of the person in front of us.

Despite all that, we can see that some of the veterans with PTSD took the opportunity to make the change and started life again. In the following cases, you can see the change in every client and the steps they took. Some took small steps, some took big steps, but they all started something because the reflexology treatment inspired them to take the opportunity to change.

Descriptions of the patients: (Not real names)

Aharon - 58 years old, married with two children. His main complaint is about burning feet. He was injured 23 years ago.

Dominant element: Fire. That tells us how much he is trying to take control of his life—to avoid his feelings, to try despite everything, even if he is almost burned. The fire tried to take place all over his feet (to take the place of earth, water, and air, too). The fire killed and burned his feelings, his motivation and his ability to focus.

After five sessions, Aharon felt much better about this burning, and after the ninth session he went to his granddaughter’s birthday party at the day care. He danced with her and laughed from the bottom of his heart for the first time since his injury.

Reflexology treatment included intense work on his spine, nervous system, and solar plexus.

Ron - 60 years old, married with three sons. His main complaint is about a disability that prevents him from handling things. He was injured 30 years ago. 

Dominant element: Water. That tells us how every single thing affects him, even if it is not important. He can cry and get excited about everything, and he has very low self-confidence. Water in the earth can make mud, and we can’t walk safely in mud. His base is especially weak; he can’t trust himself to offer security to his family. Everything depends on his wife. Water turns off the fire—the vitality, the willingness to live, the curiosity to know more and do more. 

After seven sessions, Ron bought tickets to go out with his wife. He took this opportunity and made it alone. He searched for that performance because of his willingness to go out with his wife.

Reflexology treatment was focued on the nervous system and large intestine.

Ben  - 54 years old, divorced with three children. His main complaint is about anxiety that makes him dependent on others. He can’t work and can’t assume resoinsibility on anything. Everything that happened broke him into more and more pieces. He was injured 34 years ago. 

Dominant element: Fire. That tells us how unstable he is. He can’t do anything without help. He needs to take his medication regularly. His flashbacks are obsessive. Everything is under burning, and no help can change the situation. He has many fears, memories, feelings . . . .

After the eighth session, Ben went to look for a job. He said he is sleeping most of the time, and even when he does wake up, he goes back to sleep in a short time.

Reflexology treatment emphasized work on Ben's nervous system and circulatory system.

Amir - 47 years old, married with two children. His main complaint is about impatience that causes him to yell at everyone and not listen until the end of a sentence. With his medication he can bring himself to go out, to work, and to try to be nice. He was injured 17 years ago. 

Dominant element: Fire. That tells us how impatient he is. He wants to have the last word; he wants everything to go his way. He has many nightmares that lead him to avoid sleep until he can’t resist any more. He is dependent on his medication and on his wife, and that dependency makes him even more impatient.

After the last treatment, his wife came to pick him and told me that he had become more relaxed and nicer at home. 

Reflexology treatment was focused on the nervous system, solar plexus, and blood system.

Michael - 35 years old, married with three children. His main complaints are about impatience and difficulty in feeling strong emotion. He can’t be very happy or very sad; it is all minor and not attached to him the way it was before the trauma. He was injured 3 years ago. 

Dominant element: Fire. That tells us about burning the emotions and not feeling anything while doing it. He must take control of his life even if it means yelling, being impatient, or doing what he wants despite what others want. Ronen is a workaholic who goes to work early in the morning and comes home late at night. Even on weekends tries to find something to do like fixing things and building things at home or helping friends fix their homes. He is trying to be as busy as he can instead of being with his family, enjoying them, playing with the kids, or going out with his wife—in other words, to feel. 

After 10 sessions, Michael planned to go on a weekend with his 4-year-old son to play football—just the two of them.

His Reflexology treatment included work on the spine and nervous system.

Joseph - 60 years old, divorced with five children. His main complaint is about low back pain. His best friend died near him, and that vision and his injury have caused many nightmares that led his wife and children to ignore him. Now he lives without them, and it is so difficult that he says he has developed a “stone heart”. He can’t feel excited about anything. He was injured 33 years ago. Before the traumatic event, he ran a carpentry shop with employees. Now, the business is closed and he does nothing. 

Dominant element: Water. That tells us how much feeling is locked inside that just wants to open the gate and flow out like a huge wave.

After nine sessions, Joseph told me that the pain in his leg and the numbness that comes from his back had become very minor.

Reflexology treatment emphasized work on the lumbar vertebrae and solar plexus.

Daniel - 52 years old, married with three children. His main complaints are shoulder pain, and he is diabetic. He was injured 18 years ago. 

Dominant element: Water. That tells us how emotional he is. Daniel is a very private person who can’t talk about what exactly happened in his traumatic event. He is surrounded by his fears, and that blocks him from moving forward. He is at home most of the time, stays away from his friends, and prefers to be with his family—the only place he feels safe.

At the last session Daniel told me that some of his friends used to go once a week to drink at a bar, and he asked to join them. He went with them and felt very safe, laughed, and he is thinking about going out with them every week. 

Reflexology treatment was focused on Daniel’s shoulders, blood system, and adrenal gland.

Solomon - 47 years old, married with two children. His main complaints are about backache and a hearing disorder. He was injured 17 years ago. 

Dominant element: Water. That can tell us why he cannot talk about what happened. He protects himself as much as he can. He lives in his home with his wife and kids and has one good friend.

At the eighth session Solomon told me his back feels much better, and he now can perform movements pain free that had caused pain before.

Reflexology treatment included work on his spine and nervous system.

Jonathan - 53 years old, divorced with three children. His main complaints are about backache and anxiety. He was injured 18 years ago. 

Dominant element: Fire. That can tell us how easily he can be safe, which comes from his very good wife who takes care of him and protects him; she absorbs all his anger and protects the kids from his impatience. He tried to go out to work a couple of times, but he got angry at everyone so he quickly returned home.

At the fifth session, Jonathan told me that he slept better— for five straight hours. That continued until the end of the treatments.

Reflexology treatment emphasized work on Jonathan's spine and nervous system.

David - 27 years old, single. His main complaint is a backache. His best friend was injured near him; he tried to help his friend but lost him. He lives with his parents, works at a computer company, and has started to study at a university. He was injured a year and a half ago. 

Dominant element: Water. That can tell us why he still lives with his parents. He still grieves for his friend and talks about what happened there whenever he can. He can cry easily. 

After seven sessions, Boaz told me that his back is starting to feel better and he is sleeping better.

Reflexology treatment was focused on David's lumbar vertebrae and nervous system.

                                                                                   * * *

Reflexology was a great opportunity for the veterans with PTSD to talk with someone, to share their fears, to receive a hug, and to find someone who could empathize.

The patients were so excited about the treatment and always mentioned how important it was to them, how much the touching of their feet eased their pain and breathing and gave them comfort. They said the relief stayed in their bodies for a couple of days. They were less aggressive toward their families and slept better. Some of them became confident enough to go out with friends, to search for a job, or simply to go out for a walk with the family. In almost every session, they reported progress in their lives.

It was very touching and full of meaning when we finished our treatments. 

If you suffer from PTSD, or if you know someone who suffers from it, don't hesitate—call the closet reflexologist in your area now. You can feel better, sleep better, and function better. 

Take care,


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