“Dana Christy (they/she), Certified Shiatsu Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, and therapeutic yoga practitioner, is the founder and head practitioner at WellSpring Healing Arts, a multidisciplinary wellness practice founded in 2017. Dana studied bodywork and East Asian Medicine at Zen Shiatsu Chicago and earned yoga teaching certifications for children and adults with Global Family Yoga and Yogaview. Dana specializes in working with trauma, autoimmune conditions, chronic illness, and the LGBTQIAP+ community.
About Dana Christy
Dana Christy began studying embodied trauma-informed healing in 2010. They have pursued multiple courses of study centered around trauma awareness and trauma healing, including The Breathe Network’s trainings in Trauma-Informed Care and Trauma-Informed Yoga. Dana has extensive experience working with survivors, helping them address the vast network of physical, psychological, and energetic reverberations that trauma creates in the body. Dana also leads trainings on trauma-informed bodywork and embodied healing throughout the Chicago area, most recently with Zen Shiatsu Chicago. Dana identifies as a survivor of sexual violence, as well as a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and embraces these identities as spaces where they can connect more authentically with their clients. Dana is committed to furthering equity, accessibility and inclusion in the healing arts world, and aims to hold space for all beings on their healing journey, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, body size, age, or ability.
I initially began working with survivors in college. I studied Dance Therapy and focused specifically on working with survivors of sexual violence, combat veterans, and individuals struggling with eating disorders, addiction, and self-harm. Though I have added a range of treatment modalities to my repertoire, including shiatsu, massage, therapeutic yoga, and mindfulness, this focus on survivors has maintained its place at the core of my mission. Safety, agency, and consent are at the center of my value framework. In keeping with what I have learned via The Breathe Network, I strive to help survivors connect with their innate resilience, and to let that resilience be a beacon of empowerment throughout their healing journey.
I specifically focus on working with survivors of sexual assault who now experience chronic health conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, chronic illness, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, fertility issues, disordered eating, addiction, and self-harm. I have learned so much about the far-reaching effects trauma has on the body, and how many seemingly unrelated physical symptoms can often be triggered by trauma’s spider web of influence.
My Interest in Working with Survivors
Like many who are drawn to this work, I am a survivor of sexual violence. In my ongoing process of integrating my traumatic experiences, I have personally benefited from the incredible healing capacities of yoga, bodywork, mindfulness, and alternative medicine. My recovery would have been nonexistent without integrated mind/body therapeutic methodologies. The ways in which embodied healing modalities have helped me re/connect with my resilience, and how this re/connection has so deeply impacted my transformation, have inspired me to center my practice around this work. I have so much gratitude for the many practitioners who have led and continue to lead me through my own healing work, continually guiding me as I navigate my growth. If I can support even one survivor in one moment of that journey, my mission in the healing arts will be fulfilled.
My Approach to Trauma-Informed Care
My mission as a practitioner is not to impose any kind of schedule or expectation on my client’s healing, but instead to hold space for the body’s self-healing capacities to take effect in whatever way is most authentic. There is so much pressure in our society on how to heal, how quickly to heal, and what a state of being “fully healed” should look like. This can instill survivors whose processes do not match these narratives with a sense of shame, which can add to what many survivors already internalize as a result of living in a victim-blaming society.
I believe that healing is a continual process that lasts a lifetime. I have no “goals” for my clients. They have the freedom to dictate exactly what they want to happen in every treatment. Consent is at the core of every interaction. I do thorough intakes before each session to try to understand what each individual might need from their session that day. Sessions can differ dramatically, even for the same client, based on what they present in that moment. In some sessions I might not even touch a person’s body if that is not in service of their current needs. I use all the tools available to me, including movement, visualization, healing touch, and breathwork, to create a fluid, nourishing, and accessible healing environment.
I am primarily trained in Shiatsu. Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that is based in the meridian system, a network of energetic points and channels that is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. I use pressure on those points and channels, as well as full-body stretches, to release stored tension in the body and to facilitate healthy flow of energy, or qi. Sessions are performed on a massage table with the receiver fully clothed. Shiatsu can be used to treat a variety of conditions ranging from musculoskeletal concerns (i.e. injuries, joint pain, muscle tension, postural issues, arthritis) to physiological imbalances (i.e. sleep problems, digestive issues, allergies, anxiety, low energy). It is an excellent tool for both acute and preventative health treatment as well as regular personal care. Clients report that sessions leave them feeling energized, balanced, nurtured, and grounded.
I am also a licensed massage therapist trained in deep tissue, trigger point, prenatal, and sports massage. Oftentimes I incorporate these Western massage techniques throughout my shiatsu treatments. Because Western massage is typically performed on a client’s naked body, and I only offer clothed treatments, I feel more comfortable using these massage techniques in situations where they are most effective and appropriate (i.e. for tight neck and shoulders) rather than offering full-scale Western massage treatments.
How My Practice Holistically Addresses the Impacts of Sexual Trauma
Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine inherently view the body as an interconnected web, where every symptom and sensation is connected with every experience and emotion. Because this perspective on healing is built into my training, I have been able to use it to support clients as they metabolize the many physical, emotional, and energetic manifestations of trauma. I am always looking at each individual as a whole person, rather than a collection of symptoms. In each session we are holding space for the client to exist in the world as their most present, contented, authentic self. These shifts towards this space of ease take place on all levels of our being.
Shiatsu, bodywork, mindfulness, and therapeutic yoga all revolve around building and rebuilding a safe and sustainable connection between mind and body. This is a crucial process for survivors who often have their mind-body connection severed. I intentionally educate my clients about their bodies and nervous systems so that they can learn to gauge how they are feeling at any given moment, both inside and outside the treatment room, and empower their sense of agency so that they can make informed choices to support their well-being and ease.
I recognize that many bodies are excluded from traditional trauma-informed spaces. My goal is to hold space for all bodies, especially those that have been denied access to embodied healing care. Agency and accessibility go hand in hand: we need to feel empowered in our healing spaces, to know that we are directing the intention, practice, and outcome of our healing work. I also recognize that I, with the many forms of privilege I embody, may not be the appropriate practitioner for all people, and have intentionally built a robust and diverse referral network so that I may direct survivors to other practitioners who share their unique identities and perspectives.
I craft each session around the client’s specific needs in that moment. This means that I prioritize safety, agency and consent above any prescribed healing technique or sequence. I give clients the opportunity to dictate how they want all aspects of the session to unfold, from the music to the lighting to whether they start face up or face down. I remind them at the beginning of every session that they can ask for whatever is happening in the session to change at any time, and I check in with them regularly to ensure that the work is resonating with them according to their needs. I also encourage clients to ask any and all questions about what is happening, so that their sense of agency and consent can be constantly nourished. I have no agenda for the session beyond doing everything I can to create and hold the safest space possible. If that means doing a 45 minute intake and a 15 minute massage, that’s okay. If that means doing the most minimal verbal intake and spending more time with just the body, that’s okay too. Above all, I want my clients to feel confident in knowing that they are in charge of what happens to them.
I have taught mindfulness and therapeutic yoga to children and adults for over 10 years. I present these practices in ways that are distinctly different from what you might find in a typical gym or studio yoga class, and are intentionally crafted for each individual’s unique needs. They are accessible to all ages, body sizes, and abilities. I focus on using movement, mindfulness, and breath as tools to cultivate a safe and sustainable mind/body connection. Ultimately, I hope to equip clients with the tools they need to regulate their nervous systems outside the context of our sessions together. Mindfulness and yoga techniques can provide easy, quick, accessible options when we feel the need to ground ourselves, anytime and anywhere. Equipping clients with the awareness and solutions they need to feel better is a powerful way of empowering agency, which is a valuable healing state for so many survivors whose agency has been compromised.
Although I am passionate about increasing healing accessibility for all people, I feel particularly drawn to working with folx in the LGBTQIAP+ community. I identify as nonbinary and bisexual, and though I have the privilege of presenting as cisgender and straight-passing, I have my own lived experience with the daily micro- and macroagressions that queer people experience. In acknowledging that, I also recognize the many ways that I as a white person hold privilege, and am committed to doing my own embodied anti-racism work. Resmaa Menakem’s scholarship around the historical, intergenerational, persistent institutional and personal trauma associated with living life in a body that doesn’t conform to the white/cis/straight/male ideal, as well as his work on the embodied healing of racialized trauma, have had a monumental impact on my work.
Additionally, I feel drawn to working with folx in all body sizes. Our fatphobic society is a breeding ground for disordered eating, which too is a form of embodied trauma. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, I am now a proud advocate of Health At Every Size, and I hope to provide an inclusive space for anyone whose body does not fit with our society’s expectations about what bodies should look like. All bodies are deserving of healing.
I offer sliding scale rates to clients in need, as accessibility is one of my core values, and has been ever since establishing my professional practice. I recognize that many embodied healing modalities are simply unavailable to many individuals based on their financial realities. I hope to do what I can to make wellness more inclusive.