• Fix Me!!

    “Fix me” is a common theme. “Fix me!” With a smile, I patiently explain that I don’t “fix”. What massage therapy does do, is enable a body to heal more efficiently, hopefully more quickly.

    As massage therapists we can’t take responsibility for another person’s healing. Yet many clients expect us to do just that.

    When I first began working in the field of massage therapy, I felt absolutely heartbroken when someone didn’t jump off the massage table with complete relief from whatever symptom had brought them to me.

    It took me years to change this reaction. People-pleasing became something at which I’ve always been good. I mean really good. And in my practice, I perfected that aspect of myself.

    I also became really good at putting my clients ahead of my own needs. I would cancel my own appointment to receive a massage or to get a haircut or even to eat lunch, so that I could accommodate a person with a difficult schedule. I would work later or earlier than my advertised time, if pressured by a client to do so — and I would fit more people in my day than was comfortable for me physically.

    I rationalized it by telling myself that the extra money was justification.

    It wasn’t until I heard a speaker at a massage therapy conference talk about gaining control of our businesses, that I understood the extent that I was letting my clients’ behavior control my own sense of well being.

    It’s an easy trap, I suspect because many of us who become therapists are so service-oriented.

    It’s important to take care of ourselves so we have the energy to take care of others.
    ____________________________
    A group of involved people, who come together to learn in a space of acceptance and caring, can begin to change the world — one massage at a time.  I believe it.

  • Massage Therapy at the Crossroads

    Recently I took part as content specialist, in the national accreditation process for a massage therapy program at a community college. Never before have I been more acutely aware of the changes in the field, and not for a long, long time have I witnessed firsthand the dedication and professionalism prevalent in massage therapy education.

    Do you know how much work a school dedicates to their part in the accreditation process — and conversely, how much work is done by the accreditation team? I certainly, before I worked as an accreditation reviewer, had no idea— and I have respect that goes beyond respect at this point, for the organizations on both ends of that process.

    The days of massage as a folk art are gone and they’re not returning. Massage therapy is a full-fledged part of the healthcare profession. This delights me, despite the fact that I lamented the loss of the folk art side of things in a blog posting not long ago.

    During the accreditation procedure, I was enormously impressed by the quality and dedication of the teachers, by the passion of the students, by the serious medical nature with which the work was approached. Massage therapy is no longer a profession to be whispered about, scoffed at with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge, or not taken seriously whatsoever in any way. Massage therapy is all grown up and it is a well respected part of the medical community.

    I am extremely proud to be a longstanding professionally licensed member of this wonderful community of bodyworkers.

    ____________________________
    A group of involved people, who come together to learn in a space of acceptance and caring, can begin to change the world — one massage at a time.  I believe it.

  • Massage as a Folk Art

    The profession of massage therapy has changed immensely since I first became licensed, nearly twenty-eight years ago. It has gone from what my massage therapist friend calls a “folk art”, to an integral and accepted part of the medical community.

    Though the changes are mostly welcome — as a veteran of the folk art times, I often long for the days of not being responsible for chart notes and letters faxed to referring physicians. I find myself wishing that a prospective client would call for an appointment and question what modalities I use, or how long I’ve been a therapist without initially asking, “Which insurances do you accept?”

    The state in which I live, in 1996 passed an “every category of provider” law, stating that health care insurers were obligated to cover treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy, and other forms of licensed natural health care.

    Over the ensuing years, insurance companies have found ways around this —and it has become more difficult for a person to have massage therapy fully covered within the parameters of an insurance policy. I not-so-secretly have mixed emotions about this — I have always felt that involving insurance in the world of massage therapy could turn out to be a double edged sword.

    I don’t want to disenfranchise the profession ever, at all. That being said, let’s try and put the folk art back into massage therapy. Just a little.

    ____________________________
    A group of involved people, who come together to learn in a space of acceptance and caring, can begin to change the world — one massage at a time.  I believe it.

  • Service With a Capital “S”

    Service with a Capital “S”
    Service with a capital “S”.  That’s massage therapy. As a therapist, you practically have to have an “S” branded on your forehead.

    I have been asked the question, “What if someone walks in the door and you just don’t want to touch that person?” My answer……………if that association is part of your mentality, massage therapy may not be the correct profession for you.

    It’s a privilege to be trusted with someone’s physical self. I remind myself daily of that.

    As therapists, we’re used to dealing with bodies. It’s not always easy for the person on that table. Physicians prescribe and sometimes are good listeners to ailments and symptoms. At the same time though, they often don’t touch.

    It can be difficult for a client to feel comfortable with disrobing and being touched, no matter how effective it will be. It’s of utmost importance that we never forget to treat every body with dignity, respect and non-judgment.

    ____________________________
    A group of involved people, who come together to learn in a space of acceptance and caring, can begin to change the world — one massage at a time.  I believe it.

  • Too Many Years in a Dark Room

    Too many years in a dark room. That’s what a friend and fellow bodyworker says about those of us who have worked as therapists for a long time. Too many years in a dark room.

    It’s easy to experience a feeling of burnout after years of interacting one-on-one with clients — not making time socially or professionally for ourselves, because we’re drained at the end of the day.

    We spend intense time with clients that sometimes exhaust us, in spite of the mental protection with which we are taught to guard ourselves. It’s easy to forget the wonderful reasons we came into such a wonderful, rewarding profession in the first place.

    I believe we, as massage therapists, need to have an outside life — and equally important, to interact professionally with others in the bodywork field.

    Online continuing education is no substitute for time spent in an actual class situation, learning and experiencing hands-on techniques and collaborating on ideas.

    We take care of others all day long in our work — How about caring for ourselves as professionals?

    ____________________________
    A group of involved people, who come together to learn in a space of acceptance and caring, can begin to change the world — one massage at a time.  I believe it.

  • MTNS: Reason for Being

    I spend a lot of time thinking about massage therapy continuing education. It’s my business, yes — it’s also my passion. I wake up in the middle of the night and think about continuing education, I think about continuing education when I’m eating lunch, while I’m out walking the dog. It’s on my mind a lot of the time.

    Fifteen years ago, I attended a massage therapy teacher training workshop that turned out to be life changing. The instruction was great and the venue was wonderful— yet it was much more than that. Within it evolved a strong sense of community — we studied, we ate meals together. We networked. We brainstormed. There was a significant amount of downtime that could be spent as we chose — meditating, in a guided yoga class, reading or hiking.

    I came away with an entirely different feeling about continuing education. It doesn’t have to be monotonous or obligatory. In addition to being instructional, it can be a period of self growth and introspection, resulting in a feeling of renewal and positive energy upon reentry into the world of work with clients on a day to day basis.

    The experience stayed with me and formed the core of our MTNS retreat seminar programs. My hope is that therapists who attend our programs can and will encounter a deep sense of meaning and purpose while attending an educational workshop.

    ____________________________

    A group of involved people, who come together to learn in a space of acceptance and caring, can begin to change the world — one massage at a time.  I believe it.