Sound Trauma Therapy: As in other forms of somatic psychotherapy that attend
to the psyche (mind) and soma (body), sound healing sends sound vibrations into the body
to target areas of pain, stress, and tension, or trauma.
I throw another Epsom salt square into the filling bathtub.
She told me to bathe in good salt tonight because I released so much in session today.
I stand naked and chilled but deep in thought, waiting for the water to fill midway before stepping in.
What would my 18-year-old Christian self have thought if I knew I would be going to a sound trauma therapist at 42 years old?
When I walked into therapy today, Aelah asked me what I wanted to work on.
“I feel good, like we opened up my root chakra last time, and I just want to continue learning to ground myself.”
I would never have said the words “root chakra” without giggling and rolling my eyes. The way I grew up, talking about chakras was like fully confessing to witchcraft. In truth, anything about the body or even psychology was veering from the faith. Yet as I have moved closer in my relationship with God, my body and psyche are like beautiful journals I get to write in exploring my story with my Creator. I might say some of these sound trauma therapy sessions feel like elevated quiet times with God.
Chakras and sound trauma are newer concepts for me to apply in therapy. Still, I have been learning more about them, similar to the way I have expanded my knowledge of somatic and Eastern therapies: EMDR, visualizations, craniosacrial, and massage. So much of my client’s storywork is showing up in their bodies, as is my own. So, I am exploring all types of therapies in hopes of understanding the biopsyhospiritual health of women. What I am learning is that the body has a cadence, a rhythm that fluctuates with stress, caffeine, therapy, sugar, and many other things.
If you remember nothing else, remember this—your body’s rhythm works best in balanced cadence.
Let’s take sound therapy, which regulates how the amount of hertz follows the chakras: the highest hertz is at the top (third eye), and the least amount of hertz is at the root or earth. Most of my therapy began with working on my womb in hopes of healing my birth trauma. Sound therapy is about allowing sound waves to expose trauma points in the body. Mine were most evident in my womb.
Aelah opened a new box with a sound bowl inside. I had ordered a sound bowl for the heart chakra. She asked if she could place it on my chest. I laughed as I imagined asking one of my clients to do this. I hesitated but complied.
“Yes.” I was so curious to see how it would sound on my heart.
She played the bowl, and a glorious, full tone emerged, and tears pricked my eyes.
My heart-song sounds beautiful.
As I listened, I thought about my mother’s kind gift of giving me a heart, my life-battery pack, if you will. I smiled at the analogy and let the emotion spill down my cheeks. I pictured six hearts representing the six children my body had tried to bring into this world. The tears were more than joy; I also felt sadness. Three of those hearts still beat today, and the other three do not. I felt overwhelming sadness for the hearts that stopped beating within my body.
“We are an Easter people.” Those words from church on Sunday circled back to me. My tears did not stop; they actually quickened.
I am so grateful for all six hearts my body created because I believe their souls will never die, and I will connect with them one day. What I couldn’t convey in words to Aelah was that I had certainty and hope in my children’s souls, but it was their physical earth-side bodies that my heart still grieved.
Yes, we are Easter people. We believe in the resurrection. We believe that our souls are eternal. But resurrection is not resuscitation.
In that sound trauma therapy moment, I could almost hear my heart still grieving the little hearts that were not resuscitated. I know those three souls are eternal, but my body is grieving. My heart almost seemed to beg to be near them again. I realized my heart needed to grieve again to sing as loudly and bravely as she desired.
Aelah explained that the stifled sound we kept hearing interrupted the firm tone and was representative of trauma. I am a trauma therapist. I know when I see trauma, but I was taught to listen and talk through it. Aelah was taught to listen and play through it. She took the sound bowl and moved it from my heart to my womb. She played it again.
This time, the sound of my heart-song didn’t falter; it grew more profound, accessible, and infinitely wild.
Christy Bauman, Ph.D., MDFT, & LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voices. She offers meaning-making and storywork consulting. She is the author and producer of Theology of the Womb, A Brave Lament, Documentary: A Brave Lament, and The Sexually Healthy Woman. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, and adjunct professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy is co-director of the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma with her husband Andrew. They live in Brevard, North Carolina with their three kids: Wilder, Selah, and River.