Massage for Low-Income Communities: Unwinding the Trauma of Poverty

ABMP member Nataly Del Cid with three of her clients.
ABMP member Nataly Del Cid (second from right).

Nataly Del Cid is an ABMP member whose goal is to combine her passions for social work and massage to integrate talk therapy with bodywork therapy and provide a holistic approach to healing for low-income, marginalized community members. Nataly was one of the winners of ABMP's Massage is for EveryBody essay contest, and her story exemplifies the healing and inclusive values of the campaign.

Unwinding the Trauma of Poverty

By Nataly Del Cid

Growing up in a low-income Latinx community in southeast Los Angeles, I have experienced and observed how intergenerational poverty can perpetuate violence and trauma, ultimately detrimental to individual and collective integrative health. I see the ways my community members’ bodies hold trauma and, unknowing how to cope with this trauma, they perpetuate more violence and trauma through self-harm, substance use, domestic violence, and more. They put up with physically laborious minimum-wage jobs in order to keep a roof over their head. These circumstances force them to become out of touch with their bodies in order to avoid feeling their mental, emotional, and physical pain. They do not have access to mental health practitioners that can help them process their trauma with holistic healing tools. Constantly on fight-or-flight mode, they become conditioned to believe that touch leads to harm, not a form of love or luxurious self-care. So much trauma can become entrapped in our bodies, and I believe that massage therapy can be a tool used to help these community members find their way back into their bodies and regain their autonomy.

I aspire to become a trauma-informed massage therapist who specializes in providing services to marginalized community members that are often overworked and unserved in the healthcare field. I want to make massage therapy more accessible to low-income community members and teach them how to preserve and treat the bodies when they do not have access to conventional western healthcare. Exposing massage therapy to these community members can help them learn more about autonomy of their body, consent, and empathy through safe and caring touch. I want to begin this work by volunteering for non-profits that provide holistic healing services to underserved and unhoused community members in the East Bay, California.

I will be starting a Master’s in social welfare at UC Berkeley this August and will be pursuing a license in clinical social work. My goal is to be able to combine my license in clinical social work and massage therapy certification, to integrate talk therapy with bodywork therapy and provide a holistic approach to healing for low-income, marginalized community members. As a mental health and bodywork practitioner, I want to advocate for increasing more holistic healing tools these community members can utilize to overcome their trauma and generate intergenerational healing.

Instagram handle: @enndc

To read the other winning essays from ABMP's Massage is for EveryBody awards, visit abmp.com/massage-week-awards.

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