Video Course: Touching Trauma: Part 1-Recognizing Trauma

Chris Smith, Cindy Williams, Kristin Coverly

More than ever, the ability to recognize and address trauma in clients—and ourselves—is paramount. Gain an understanding of what trauma is, how to identify its signs, and how to follow the “dos and don’ts” when working with trauma. Learn to work effectively and safely with clients experiencing trauma and empower them to use your bodywork session as a tool in their healing process.

*Please note: this course title will appear as "Touching Trauma" on the CE certificate and on NCBTMB and state websites. 

This course was featured during the 2020 ABMP CE Summit

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Course Outline
  • Discussion Questions
  • What makes trauma, trauma?
  • Is there a difference between trauma and stress?
  • Why do people get so stuck in their stories?
  • Why is it so hard to heal from trauma?
  • How might trauma, sadness, and grief manifest?
  • What signs might we see in clients (and ourselves)?
  • What signs might we hear in clients?
  • What signs might we feel in clients?
  • Are there “dos and don’ts” when working with trauma?
  • How do you work with an emotional release?
    • What does it look like?
    • What if a client “checks out” or disassociates?
    • Can I stop a session?
  • Is there a different approach to working with trauma in this time of the pandemic?
Learning Objectives

Having viewed this online massage therapy CE course, participants will be able to:

  • Define trauma.
  • List ways trauma can appear in clients in ways that massage therapists can see.
  • List ways trauma can appear in clients in ways that massage therapists can hear.
  • List ways trauma can appear in clients in ways that massage therapists can feel.
  • Identify the “dos and don’ts” of working with a client experiencing trauma.
  • Identify the ways to address a client who is having an emotional response during their massage session.


Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a recognized leader in the field of massage therapy and trauma. She is a massage therapist and trauma touch therapist. She developed and has been teaching Trauma Touch Therapy at the Colorado School of Healing Arts (CSHA) and to therapists worldwide since 1992. She has been with CSHA since 1988, where she serves as the school director. For more information on Trauma Touch Therapy, visit the school’s website at

Cindy Williams

Cindy Williams has been immersed in the massage and bodywork profession since 2000 as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. She has experienced the challenge and triumph of creatively motivating artful students to embrace science and structure. Her administrative experience allows her to understand the needs of school owners, directors, and instructors. She is a freelance content writer and educational consultant, in addition to maintaining a part-time massage and bodywork practice. Contact her at

Kristin Coverly

Kristin Coverly, LMT is a massage therapist, national educator, and former instructor and school administrator with degrees in marketing and public relations. As the director of professional education at ABMP, she creates resources and education to support massage and bodywork professionals, has led ABMP BizFit Live: Successful Practice Workshops across the country, and wrote the Business Side column in Massage & Bodywork magazine. By creatively blending her backgrounds in business, education, and massage she helps therapists develop unique strategies to successfully market and manage their practices. Contact her at

Topics and Techniques

This trauma touch course teaches massage therapists and bodywork practitioners how to recognize and address trauma in clients. Topics include understanding what trauma is, how to identify its signs in clients, how to follow the “dos and don’ts” of working with clients experiencing trauma, and how to work with a client who is having an emotional release during the session.


This online massage therapy ethics CE course is available to you on demand to access, learn, and earn CE whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for you!


Visit the ABMP Education Center FAQ page for a full list of resources.

Q: Is this CE course approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) for CE credit?
A: Yes! All of the courses are approved under ABMP’s NCBTMB Approved Provider account (451086-09).

Q: How do I earn a CE certificate for this video-based course?
A: After you complete the webinar video, a quiz will appear on the page. Earn a CE certificate by scoring 70% or higher on the course quiz.

Q: Can I earn a CE certificate for this course more than once?
A: Learners can earn one CE certificate for each course.

Q: How do I access my CE certificates?
A: CE certificates are available on your “My CE Transcripts” page and on the course page. Visit your “My CE Transcript” page by clicking “My CE” on the navigation bar at the top of your screen.

Copyright Statement
All of the ABMP courses contain materials that are proprietary to ABMP. None of the course material may be used without the express written permission of ABMP. Materials may include, but are not limited to, video, audio, images, documents, and slides. Course materials are only for the use of students enrolled in this course and may not be shared publicly or shown to groups. Unauthorized retention, duplication, distribution, or modification of copyrighted materials is strictly prohibited by law. Check your state’s defined scope of practice for massage therapy before practicing any new modalities or techniques.


"Excellent heart-centered, experience and research-based presentation. Very helpful!"

"This is an excellent course.  The facilitator and speakers were concise, organized, and well-schooled in their subject.  The presentation was interesting and engaging.  I learned a great deal that will be very useful in my practice.  I would recommend this course in a heartbeat.  Thank you so much!"

"Excellent summary of trauma and great, practical suggestions for how to respond."

"I would like to thank Kristin, Chris, and Cindy for addressing and discussing this topic so insightfully, intelligently, and compassionately.  It really opened my eyes as a practitioner and a human being."