27 Mar The quandary of the modern Remedial Massage Therapist
After attending a massage course on the weekend – I took some time to reflect on the clinical value of modern remedial massage and bodywork:
As Director of Clarity, my role is now purposefully focused on business improvement, team development, networking, culture, promotion and innovation – nowadays I have much less hands-on time in a massage practitioner-sense, so it was SO lovely to revisit my craft on a recent weekend. Massage is, after-all, the thing which started it all!
As a practitioner I have tended to concentrate on the “clinical” and evidence-based aspects of bodywork and treatment – I specialised in Sports Injury Management as my Advanced Remedial Massage qualification and have professionally favoured ongoing learning in those disciplines with really measurable and quantifiable results – which have helped determine the most appropriate approach to inform the best outcome for my clients.
In my almost 10 years of remedial massage practice, however, I have personally found that it is those entirely ‘un-certified’ manual therapies which I have learned throughout life: time spent cross-legged manipulating feet + hips with Burmese women in Northern Thailand, the comfort of my Dad’s warm hands on my head – intent to ease the pain when I had a “tummy ache in my head”, or the incredible act of gentle, loving touch offered by blind buddhist healers on my gammy leg; which has informed some of the most profound change in clients on my table.
I believe that touch, applied with true intent to influence positive change, can be incredibly powerful.
It is undeniably integral to have a thorough clinical knowledge to be able to effectively treat a presenting condition – but in my experience, one can have all the knowledge in the world and still inform little-to-no change if they do not have the intent to facilitate healing (ergo: “the magic touch”).
I sense that this is the perpetual quandary or conflict of the modern remedial massage therapist – the ongoing attempt (and valid need, I must note, as recognised private health providers) to prove and quantify the affect and measurable value of what we offer……paradoxically plonked alongside the ongoing in-clinic anecdotal experience of amazing change created through some of the least “evidence based” practices we know…! Oh, the predicament!!!
In years gone by, I would have felt incredibly embarrassed to share this notion – as a young practitioner trying desperately to “prove” my worth with all of my recognised qualifications, I would have been mortified when a client said “You’d have been burned at the stake with that magic you provide!” (as someone did just last week!) – but as I have developed, both as a practitioner and a human-bean; I feel much more comfortable with my worth and value. Feeling this through the positive influence I have had on the health and wellbeing of a great many trusting clients, both through applied clinical knowledge and the much-less-measurable, much-more-woo-woo act of applying intentional healing touch (and of course, through the wonderful blossoming of Clarity Wellness Centre).
It is, in effect, this merging of these two paradoxical worlds that is in fact the basis of Clarity – effective treatments and therapies offered in a nurturing space, by passionate and knowledgeable practitioners who honour with kindness all contributing aspects to health and wellbeing (…for those playing at home we like to call it the biopsychosocial spiritual approach to healthcare).
I feel so happy to see the many happy faces of people who have experienced positive change at the hands and hearts of our brilliant team of practitioners.
As with a great many ancient disciplines and practices, it is incredibly valid to honour the traditional alongside the modern – the anecdotal experience alongside the clinical data.
To acknowledge and accept that your clinical education and your personal philosophy/intention do not have to be mutually exclusive.
To keep your eyes firmly locked on your overarching vision and mission to inform positive change, by which means is most effective and appropriate for your individual client.
If you can do this in a way which meets your clients’ expectations and outcomes, is not detrimental to their wellbeing (or your own), and ultimately provides them with lasting relief from their presenting complaint…I reckon you’re onto a winner.
So…perhaps there is no quandary, after all? 😉
To you, my fellow massage therapists, I beseech:
Continue to consult with intent, kindness and care.
Keep your brain topped up with up-to-date professional knowledge and research, and keep your heart overflowing with love.
Your work is incredibly important, and that “immeasurable” energy and magic that you offer to your clients, is of incredible worth
– just as much as that piece of paper which says you’ve got the smarts.
That’s what I reckon, anyway.
– Sarah Watson
Managing Director, Clarity Massage & Wellness Centre