From crime and domestic violence to sexual assaults, too many South Africans struggle to recover after a traumatic event, but there is hope…

Self-care and trauma coach Leigh Joy Mansel-Pleydell says that trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) does not have to signify the end.

“Healing from trauma is often the beginning of a profound journey into self-love, acceptance and a revival of compassion, grace and joy.”

This World Trauma Day (17 October), Mansel-Pleydell shares research on how trauma can lead to  PTSD, and advice on how to your reclaim your life after a traumatic event.

PTSD side effects[1] include flashbacks, high anxiety, personality changes, startle responses, mood swings, and disturbed sleep, and although typically treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy, there are a number of alternative healing options.

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Alternative remedies such as physical exercise and movement can assist with PTSD, as well as anxiety and depression[2].

South Africa’s suicide rate is 4 times the global rate

3 Ways to heal

As a proponent of alternative healing, Mansel-Pleydell proposes three healing modalities to assist with the trauma of sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse:

Tension & Trauma, Releasing Exercises: (TRE®)[3]

TRE® is a series of exercises that assists the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma.  TRE® works on the premise that the body is put through gentle physical exercises to encourage the muscles to shake or tremble.

“Whilst lying down you have to shake the trauma out of the body”.

Mansel-Pleydell and TRE® practitioners believe that trauma sits in the cellular memory of the body.

“This trembling helps shake the trauma loose in the body, allowing one to let it go.  The trauma that sits in the body triggers memories, and the person relives the trauma.  With TRE®, trembling helps release trauma from the body, and therefore memories aren’t triggered as much as the person goes through deep healing,” she explains.

Physical healing

Gabby Metcalf from Sandton Scuba[4] runs a swimming and deep-sea diving school in Norscot, Johannesburg and believes that scuba diving can help people overcome trauma.

One of her clients was sexually abused by her grandfather but managed to reclaim her life and empower herself through scuba diving.

“By challenging herself to do something outside of her comfort zone, she managed to overcome her trauma.  When I took my client on her first open water dive, my mask was filled with tears.  I saw her face light up and we both knew that she had managed to let go of her fear,” says Metcalf.

Dance and Music

Another alternative form of healing from trauma is Biodanza which means the “Dance of Life”.

Biodanza is a form of free-movement which uses dance and music to promote self-awareness, restore health and vitality, reconnect to purpose and realise the full capacity of human potential.

“Biodanza is similar to TRE®, in that through movement, trauma is released from the cells.  Music is also a vital aspect of healing,” says Mansel-Pleydell.

“In my coaching practice, I have successfully married these modalities, combined with talk therapy which helps my clients’ process and release latent trauma from their bodies, minds and hearts.  The ultimate aim of these alternative methods is to help my clients become the person, that they always believed they could become,” she concludes.

Quick Pilates workout for anxiety (under 10 minutes)





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