Centering Eastern Wellness Practices on Survivors’ Healing Journeys

Centering Eastern Wellness Practices on Survivors' Healing Journeys

Womankind was pleased to read this NBC Asian America article by Kimmy Yam, which highlights Asian Americans using centuries-old healing techniques as valid alternatives to talk therapy. So many parts of her story rang true to us, as Eastern wellness practices are a core component of our approach to helping survivors of gender-based violence on their healing journey.

A cornerstone of Womankind's award-winning methodology, Moving Ahead Positively, is a holistic approach that heals the mind, body, and spirit, which we believe are all interconnected. Wellness is not just physical health, but also mental and spiritual well-being as well. When one of these components experiences trauma, so do the others. In our decades of experience serving Asian survivors across the lifespan, advocates noticed in their individual counseling session that survivors would disclose feeling symptoms such as body aches, inability to sleep, and stress. We interpreted this as trauma manifesting itself in these psychosomatic ways.

In response, Womankind created the Pathways to Healing (P2H) program in 2013 to experiment with reconnecting the mind, body, and spirit after trauma through non-talk therapy, including 3 Eastern practices: Qi Gong, trauma-informed yoga, and acupuncture. By designing the program to be quarterly cycles and to include culturally-familiar activities in a group setting, P2H not only promotes healing, but provides a safe space for participants to foster healthy relationships and friendships. Survivors have used words like “light-hearted,” “vibrant,” and “great optimism” to describe the changes they noticed in their mind, body, and spirit after participating in P2H. Today, the program offers additional therapeutic activities, including auricular acupressure (ear beading), expressive arts, and healing with body, breath, and voice. It is open to survivors, staff, as well as external community members.

Womankind’s holistic approach to healing ultimately ties to the center of our methodology, which is building trusting and healthy relationships. When trust is eroded by abuse, it splinters the sense of connection between individuals and others. Through the power of relationships, we strive to help survivors achieve internal harmony and develop a renewed sense of belonging. Paired with wellness activities, the survivor-advocate relationship is an important component in our work. We provide services in 18+ Asian languages and dialects, allowing survivors to express themselves in their native language rather than English, which effectively removes a major barrier in their healing journey. They can speak about their trauma directly, but in many cases, due to factors such a shame, stigma, and thinking about the collective rather than the individual, they may choose to speak about their trauma indirectly instead. By building trust with their advocates in this way, we hope that that survivors can build trusting and healthy relationships in other parts of their lives, too.

Our founding over 40 years ago as an organization for Asian women experiencing domestic violence has deeply influenced our work today. Womankind uses the multidimensionality of our Asian heritage to work alongside survivors of gender-based violence as they build a path to healing. We believe in the efficacy of our methodology so much that we offer this healing approach to everyone who walks through our doors for help, regardless of cultural background. We do this in hopes of creating a future where we Rise Above Violence and our communities can innovate towards collective well-being, restoration, and social justice.

If you have experienced gender-based violence and are interested in building your healing journey at Womankind, please call our 24/7 confidential, multilingual helpline at 1-888-888-7702. If you are a healing practitioner and would like to partner with Womankind, please reach out to Miyoung Kim (Pathways to Healing Manager) at