More than pampering, spa helps clients overcome trauma

Haven Skincare & Massage broadens the healing goals of massage and other self-care modalities to include sensitive care for trauma survivors. Because of her passion for domestic violence awareness and human trafficking victims, owner Reagan Reynolds enlisted Susan Powers, a local counselor who focuses on trauma victims, to help her develop a training curriculum for her staff. This enables them to modify any of the spa’s services to meet the special needs of clients who have experienced many kinds of trauma.

“Trauma can encompass a whole lot of things. Sexual abuse, rape, divorce, a car accident — any little emotional hiccup can cause trauma,” Reynolds says. “If you’re experiencing depression and anxiety, self-care is an excellent way to move yourself out of that shadow.”

Reagan ReynoldsThe curriculum addresses the different types of trauma, what to say and not to say, and generally how to be more trauma-sensitive. In addition to her spa experience, Reynolds holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“We’re approaching people with a ‘What happened to you?’ mindset instead of a ‘What’s wrong with you?’ mindset,” Reynolds says. “It’s really about shifting our perspective more than anything.”

While offering the same services as other spas — massages, facials, body treatments, and hair removal — Haven Spa staff members make sure to offer clients choices that keep them in control of their own spa experience. For example, the practitioners offer clients choices in little things, like music or scents for lotion, so as not to trigger traumatic memories.

“We empower the client by giving them choices. If someone has experienced sexual abuse, it’s hard for them to feel that they have any level of control in their lives,” Reynolds says. “It’s totally based on the client, whatever their experience has been. If someone confides that they have experienced rape, we may not ask them to fully undress for a massage. Or, maybe we start with their hands until they build rapport and trust with their massage therapist. It’s a more collaborative experience.”

Reynolds and her team also make positive efforts to reach out to and support trauma survivors. For one, they make referrals to Freedom Family Therapy, which has offices next door. The therapists there also refer clients to the spa. If a client confides that they have experienced domestic violence, spa staff may refer them to Safe Haven Ministries, which offers non-residential services and shelter to domestic violence victims. Because Reynolds recognizes that human trafficking takes place on a large scale in Grand Rapids, she features handmade jewelry from Created Free in the spa.

“Trafficking and the sex industry are pretty prevalent issues in Grand Rapids. That’s another trauma-based scenario we talked about in training with our staff,” she says. “Being a (sex worker) is not always by choice. We chose to work with Created Free because their jewelry is beautiful, and it helps women get out of the sex industry by providing jobs.”

Located at 4829 East Beltline Ave. NE, Suite 302, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, Haven Skincare & Spa, of course, welcomes all kinds of clients, whether they have experienced trauma or not.

“We’re just here to really put an emphasis on self-care, no matter what you have experienced, whether your kids are driving you nuts, or you’ve experienced serious trauma,” Regan says. “Self-care, in general, is really helpful for healing from trauma and it is super overlooked. Your body remembers trauma. Self-care can really help process that.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor

Photos courtesy Haven Skincare & Massage

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