Depression: How Massage Therapy Can Assist

 

Massage Therapy does not cure woman watching a train pass by Depression, but there is strong evidence that massage therapy can be effective for reducing the negative impact on a person’s health that symptoms of depression can proliferate.

Depression defined

On their website, the Mayo Clinic defines Depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” and goes on to say that this disorder “can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems”. Anyone who has experienced Depression or has seen it at work can attest to the accuracy of this generalized description. It is always recommended that, as a clinical diagnosis, a potential patient of Major Depressive Disorder be seen, evaluated, and diagnosed by an appropriate medical professional before adopting any treatment – with proper treatment, Depression is both preventable and recoverable.

How the AMTA says massage therapy helps

As of 2011, the American Massage Therapy Association (of which I am a 15-year member) states that “massage therapy can be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression” – a position and an opinion that many medical organizations, like the Mayo Clinic, the American Medical Association, and the National Institute of Health have been cited as supporting.

How other sources support that massage therapy helps

There are also some massage-therapy-professional and public-massage-advocate resources that feature and illustrate how massage therapy assists in alleviating the effects of some specific types of Depression. This is a very small sampling of the many online publications that address massage therapy for:

Postpartum Depression – MASSAGE Magazine

Depressed People (meta-analysis) – Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Breast Cancer – Prevention Magazine

Situational Depression – Massage Today

How I have seen that massage therapy helps

Any anecdotal information presented by individual practitioners and clients having experienced clinical Depression and that tout positive results are just the start of the body of common sense that supports massage therapy’s positive effects on the human body.

I have seen and worked with clients who have appeared depressed – if not recognized, it can go untreated, unaddressed, and eventually get worse. A person, as an organic being, without touch can wither like a flower without water. Massage Therapy can be the sunshine or the water for that person who needs fortifying, the very basics of emotional maturity and spiritual growth that have been proven, over and over again and when present, to make humans stronger, healthier, and happier…a better Quality of Life. I feel like the massage therapy I provide from time to time has helped people have more energy, increase self-value, sleep better, better posture through natural muscle-lengthening…and the list goes on.

Why “Massage Therapy for Depression”?

It’s Clean – It is a different method for the body to deal with stress: non-pharmaceutical methods of ‘treatment’ have become a preferred way – for patients and doctors, alike – to deal with life’s curve balls – drugs are becoming, more and more, a last resort for those in pain, so massage therapy is a good choice as a first attempt or clean attempt at addressing serious emotional and spiritual issues that can be resolved in a session or two of a touch therapy, like massage therapy. Even long-term use of massage therapy has been demonstrated to be good maintenance for sufferers of chronic depressive states. There are also considerably lower chances of becoming addicted to massage therapy as opposed to a pharmaceutical/biological interaction and chance of subsequent dependency on that drug for the body – I’m not saying it’s impossible to be addicted to massage therapy, but massage therapy’s effects on the body are of a shorter lifespan than those of drugs that may have after-treatment effects lasting for years.

Reconnection – If one is withdrawn as a side-effect of depression, a non-judgmental, compassionate touch – even once, during a massage therapy session of any length – can be a person’s reintroduction to the world; massage therapy can change perspectives of doubt and low self-esteem into confidence and higher self-worth and re-establish a unique sense of trust – to begin [again] with: between client and practitioner.

Reaffirmation of Goals – One may think that massage therapy is a luxury as opposed to being a necessity. When other options for one’s getting back on the horse [i.e. recovering from Depression] have been exhausted or deemed a last resort, massage therapy becomes a way to re-establish the value of one’s goals. Physically changing one’s outlook on life can be as simple as changing one’s posture – or using the assistive nature of massage therapy to help with that. Self-care is not a luxury in this case: I believe if one doesn’t take care of one’s self, one can’t help others, SO: getting a massage to make one’s self emotionally feel better is not a far stretch when one considers all the ways massage therapy can assist one in also physically ‘feeling better’ in order to get back to achieving goals one has in life.

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If a life event, news, or illness is leaving you unusually, deeply, irreconcilably, or incorrigibly depressed, leaving you absent, disabled, or unproductive, then you may be experiencing Clinical Depression – talk with your doctor about how massage therapy may be able to assist in keeping the symptoms of Depression fewer and/or less intense – many doctors know about how massage therapy can assist in reducing the effects of Depression and will be able to refer you to a massage therapist.

And, if they don’t: get them started by sharing this article with them. Mental health, like physical health, can be addressed and resolved with human touch modalities, like massage therapy.

 

Resources:

D avid J Otto, LMT BCTMB operates Hands In Motion in Las Vegas, Nevada, since 2003, assisting his clients achieve their wellness goals using massage therapy. He also volunteers with the AMTA’s Nevada Chapter and is the Director of Operations at Anatriptic Arts in Las Vegas. When he’s not working with his clients, you can find David running on the city streets, training for his next big race.

Victims Speak Out – Massage Therapy: “Under Fire”

The massage therapy industry is under fire in Las Vegas.

So, what else is new?  “Sin City” has a reputation for providing The Unscrupulous ways to satisfy their deep, dark desires, whims, and habits.  Massage Therapy is used as the face of some less-than-virtuous ways of enjoying what the City of Las Vegas, its surrounding wildlife and lands, and neon culture have to offer.  Massage Therapy, as an industry and a profession, is again, based on the public response from KTNV’s “Contact 13 Investigates” story about questionable corporate practices at Las Vegas Valley Massage Envy locations, defending itself against a negative public perception.  The story ran first on May 1, 2014, during their live action newscast, part of a Series presentation called “When Massage Becomes Misconduct”, focusing on Las Vegas Valley Massage Envys.

Watch this video, then please continue reading140501 KTNV Contact 13 story

 

Before I try to address what is really going on in the publication of this story, please know:  I am not and haven’t been an employee of or investor in Massage Envy.  I am not a representative for any law enforcement agency.  I do not know any of “the players” in this story.  But I am a concerned citizen – for the rights of potential and the alleged victims in this story.  I am also a pro-active Massage Therapy professional and Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists-licensed massage therapist (NVMT.103).  Oh: and I have an opinion, with some solution.

Please allow me to make some distinctions via definition for some of the terms I will use here:

  • Company – Massage Establishment
  • LMT – NSBMT-licensed Massage Practitioner
  • Complaining Client – customer who lodges a service complaint with a Company
  • Accusing Client – massage recipient/client who files/has filed criminal or civil charges against an LMT

I think, in our industry especially, any company that receives an first-time complaint against an employee LMT should investigate it internally and Play It Safe. There is no “report of criminal activity” by the company because they are not the Victim nor is there a law (that I am aware of) that requires employer to report “suspect LMTs” to the Business License Department, but I think Massage Envy [ME] has a franchise policy of “zero tolerance” for their employees already. Yes, the LMT/employee may not get the benefit of any doubt as to the veracity of the complaint…and that is another issue [if they are terminated over a complaint]: one the LMT would take up with an complaining client in a civil case. If the complaining client (based on the legally-consequential nature of the complaint), after being advised by the company of their options (in writing, too) to report the alleged ‘complaint’ additionally as a crime committed by the LMT, chooses NOT to pursue legal action, then the company is not legally bound to report the criminal act because they are not the victim. If the complaining client pursues criminal accusation and the LMT is convicted of a crime, then the company has ‘no choice’ (in my head) but to terminate employment (and according to their own company policy) – they, themselves, cannot pursue a criminal case against the LMT. Without a registered client accusation, This is a civil case. If (a franchisee of) ME is found to be negligent, then it is also a civil case.

The company may, but IMHO not successfully, pursue a civil action against the convicted LMT if libel or defamation of reputation is incurred by the company. Who knows? Maybe that is what we hope can be established…but not until fair notice and counseling for employment is documented. Apparently, ME as a franchiser has a “Zero Tolerance” policy, which is a great statement, but they seem to not be living up to it at the news-story-targeted locations. Sometimes, news stories like these will put the franchisees under investigation by the company (Franchiser) and they may lose their franchise if not following contracted agreement, but the franchisee will not be responsible for a single LMT’s actions. I suspect that the franchisee will take the entire responsibility/consequence for re-employing, with documented counseling of the LMT prior, but ME’s lack of organizational oversight (because maybe there is a lack of network information for the re-employing franchisee) may be where the blame is set, finally. Again, This is a civil case.

If the company does not Play It Safe and counsel effectively OR terminate, the company becomes at risk for the accused LMT to be accused again. They cannot announce to every subsequent client that the LMT they are about to get a massage from has been accused (or complained against by another client) of criminal behavior – it is not their responsibility to announce an alleged perpetrator if they continue to employ a “suspect”. It is not the company’s responsibility when an LMT commits crimes – that is why we have a board for Massage Therapists, not Massage Establishments (and their owners) – if Nevada did, then the MEs featured in this story would be under investigation by the NSBMT (…for hiring/employment practices? that’s more likely an SOS function…). Massage Envy is one of the last places anyone expects to find criminals, which is why this story is so interesting – it’s the patrons and professionals that have conspiracy-theory attitudes that fuel the publicity derived from the fear developed in the telling of this story.

We all tend to like to be judges – we have seen the limited, edited testimony of the alleged victims…in the agendized new story. We all tend to want to convict the accused and alleged LMT(s) in the court of public opinion. But it remains to be seen that the LMT(s) are guilty, and that is only done by investigation and hearing/trial, and That isonly done if/when a criminal case is opened by the victims. This story is an example of civil unrest – and one certain way to resolve it to, again, show the public that companies are responsible, for the public’s sake and in my opinion, is to have ME conduct an internal investigation and publish its result(s)…and probably get a follow-up story done by the news station. 

Establishing that the LMTs in question are criminals is the key – complaints will take those victims nowhere, accusations will.


 

Here are some steps (but may not include all) in how to get the ball rolling for avoiding or accusing a perpetrator that violates professional and business massage therapy laws:

Before an Incident:

  1. Use a reputable company’s/organization’s Referral System for Finding A Massage Therapist, if you are starting from scratch: [for National searches: (use AMTA) (use ABMP) (use NCBTMB) (use Better Business Bureau)]  [for review-based searches: (use Yelp) (use TripAdvisor) (use Angie’s List)]
  2. Check the license status of a Licensed Massage Therapist in Nevada at the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists – “Active” means the Licensee is registered and legally-allowed and -qualified to practice massage therapy.
  3. Use a search engine* to “research” your Licensed Massage Therapist; discover more about your LMT than just a license number:  is their advertising consistent, therapeutic in nature, and do their goals as your practitioner match your therapeutic goals by getting a massage?  (use Google) (use Bing)
  4. Contact and interview your Licensed Massage Therapist by phone prior to your massage therapy session.
*your search engine’s settings will determine individual results

During an Incident:

  • Yell out for help,
  • Exit the room or get out of range of the perpetrator,
  • Call 9-1-1

After an Incident:

Read the Nevada Revised Statute (laws) and Nevada Administrative Codes regarding regulation and rules for behavior for Licensed Massage Therapists;

  • If you believe the offending LMT has broken a professional license/regulatory law, fill out this Complaint Form at the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists website.

Additionally, If you believe the offending LMT has broken a jurisdictional/criminal law (some NV jurisdictions’ websites), call the police non-emergency line (3-1-1 OR (702) 828-3111) and/or go into a police station (map) to file your report.


In my opinion, this story just puts the “news” spotlight on a wrongly-intended outcome – will raking ME over the coals stop or greatly reduce the number of sexual assault victims in the industry and profession? Maybe in the organization of ME, and that can be our first stand: to establish and support well-known, public companies that represent the industry/profession. I think ME is doing a fine job of being that face for massage therapy professionals, in spite of what a news outlet reports: only one side of the story so far.

The integrity of all massage therapists is not at stake or at risk, unless we falter and don’t believe what we are doing helps people, our clients/patients. The profession is tarnished and a company is cracked with this news story, but shining & repair is inevitable if we all are to survive an unwitting blow to our reputations as facilitators of health. Regaining trust and re-establishing confidence can only be accomplished by maintaining the strict line of therapeutic relationship and practicing (sometimes more noticeably [, now]) the ethics and standards of practice that the public (and professionals, alike) recognize as constitutional and trustworthy. Helping our clients understand what to do in a situation like these victims may have experienced is one of the best ways to communicate that we, each one of us that educates in this fashion, are NOT “those LMTs”. Here are some ways to hold the line:

  • Making public statements against crimes that are known to be and are regularly publicized and associated with our profession/industry is a very good thing
  • Allying, as a massage therapy professional/business, with organizations whose agendas refute and take action against prostitution (in SoNV, especially) and human trafficking
  • Using pro-therapeutic and legally-required verbiage in our advertisements,
  • Following the law(s) explicitly regarding scope and jurisdictional practices,

These are all ways we can regain the trust of our clients and never lose our integrity.

Distance Education: Pro or Con?

In the field of Massage Therapy, and in Nevada to be more specific, the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists require 12 Continuing Education (CE) hours in our field (approved by the Board) in order to remain licensed as a Massage Therapist. This coincides with the 4-year goal of the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork’s (NCBTMB) requirement of 48 CE hours for recertification. On November 16th, 2007, the NCBTMB began accepting Distance Education (DE) courses as a viable component of the professional training required to be an NCBTMB Certificant (Nationally Certified). Face-to-Face (F2F) courses have been the mainstay in the field of Massage Therapy and the frequency and availability of DE courses is steadily rising. F2F & DE courses make CE hours (credits) available to NCBTMB Certificant when the certificant completes the number of hours of training required for each course category: F2F courses offer live instruction with hands-on opportunities for training, practice, and evaluation; DE courses can be only by long distance (never interacting with the instructor, mostly internet-based) or a combination of long distance and face-to-face instruction (mostly in the testing phase of completion).
I speak from a practicing MT, educator, and MT educator’s point of view: I think in the long run that DE (Distance Education) courses do a disservice to the industry. The quality of the nature of massage therapy declines as DE courses are more and more the choice of practitioners that do not make the time to fulfill a standard of service: hands on learning.
I think making time to “be” a professional is critical in delivering the service that our clients expect from a certificant. “Hands On” is the nature of our profession. Just as we do not expect surgeons (a “hands on” profession) to learn by distance and then practice on their patients, we also cannot expect our instructors or MTs to not have hands on experience when teaching us a modality over distance or performing a massage – we expect the best and most value for our money and the credentialing agency that establishes their expertise should also. Do our clients expect us to never have practiced on a body (for taking DE courses) when we charge the rates we charge? I think one answer is they expect us to be proficient – hands on learning facilitates that key element in claiming we are practicing within our scope and have been critiqued and guided by our live instructor(s).
On the other hand, without some DE opportunities, many MTs would not otherwise be able to get the education they need to keep the credentials they need in this industry or want and have decided are the best fit for advertising and affiliating their professional image with excellence. I understand the need for convenience, inexpensive, and accessible CE opportunities.
Right now, a certificant can submit all DE credits for renewal of their NCTM or NCTMB accreditation. I believe that a percentage of DE credits of the whole 48 should be accepted as viable learning and practice tools for recertification purposes. MTs need to establish a commitment to the “best” care for our clients by integrating hands-on training in our careers. Our professional relationship with the NCB is a choice in many cases, sometimes it is a requirement of the local jurisdiction – some state licensing boards require CEs (of any approved type, DE or F2F) and the level of proficiency of their licensees is the state board’s responsibility. I think the NCB sets a standard for the industry and would hope that states and local jurisdictions would follow suit.

What does LMT mean? and other bodyworker titles…

Signs of Service

 

In today’s world of massage therapy, one sometimes has great difficulty determining who to choose to be his or her massage therapist.  There is one thing that we all want as clients when it comes to receiving bodywork:  trust.  We know that the internet and the phone book are great tools for finding that therapist that will be the one to give us specialized bodywork or cater to our needs in massage therapy.  But, there are some additional “clues” that tell us which massage therapist will be the better choice.

 

Whether we are new to the area, want to start a bodywork regimen, or have been receiving bodywork for a long time, there are some benchmarks that help us make a better choice in making our dollar go further and our relationship with that potential bodyworker more meaningful and productive.  The service marks that accompany a therapist’s name will be an indication that they adhere to a strict municipal code, code of ethics and standard of practice.  Also, title will be very important in choosing the therapist that is right for us.  Here are a few descriptions of service marks that will designate a legitimate, specialized, or practicing therapist:

  Licensing Considerations 

, LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) – or similar business-related association is required to practice in virtually every part of the United States, whether it is a State, County, or City license: it is the law, written to protect you and the massage therapist.  To practice massage outside of the training environment, all massage therapists need LMT title, even if their business is non- or not-for-profit.  Look for this title (including the license number and with which municipality it is registered) when choosing your therapist.

 A Note About Licensing:  Having a title does not necessarily mean that the therapist is qualified to operate a business.  The municipality decides, through issuing a license to a therapist, whether the therapist can conduct business within the municipality issuing the license.  License is a privilege.  Like any other type of formal permission, licensing is not permanent, unless the therapist renews it.  For your protection, make sure you use a licensed massage therapist.  Be aware of therapists who are non-compliant (expired license, certification, or membership).  If you are concerned, check with City/County/State records for licensing and association records for memberships – all available to the public online or by phone. Professional Considerations 

, NCTMB (Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork) – the most-used method of determining whether a CMT is competent is a test called the National Certification Exam (NCE).  Passing the NCE not only means that a therapist has graduated from a (minimum) 500-hour training program, but that s/he also abides by a specific and industry-centered Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice in practicing as a Nationally Certified massage therapist.  Most municipalities that license massage therapists require the therapist be a NCTMB.  Look for this title when booking your appointment in a spa or finding a private practitioner.

 

Member of [AMTA, ABMP, IMA, etc]” – Being a member in good standing of any professional organization (like the American Massage Therapy Association, the American Bodyworkers and Massage Practitioners, and the International Massage Association) is a sign that the therapist is in tune with the normal and optimal operation of their massage therapy business.  These professional organizations often regulate through audit their members to make sure they are complying with local laws and industry standards of conduct and codes of ethics.  They also provide continuing education experiences and networking events that put them in touch with today’s massage industry to optimize their professional knowledge and accountability.

 

, Title [CMT, MMP, etc] – these additional titles to a practicing massage therapist are important for us to know in which modalities the therapist specializes.  For example, if I were looking for a Cranial Sacral Therapy therapist, I would be looking for a CST (Cranial Sacral Therapist).  Not all titles are as simple to derive just by the name of the modality.    Each title represents a completion and competency level achieved, issued by the governing body that accredited the therapist with the title.  

 

  • Know that the modality you never heard of may be a ruse for what most other therapists in the industry already practice – read the description of the service/modality before you decide it is the one that provides you what you need.
  • Get the opinion of more than one therapist.  You may find that in your research that the one you “click” with is the therapist you talk to second or third in your line of questioning.  Also, visit with the therapist, when it is convenient for both of you, to establish a relationship of trust and awareness – allow the therapist to work for you by educating you about the profession and their particular part in the profession regarding their business.

 

To find out more about how to locate a qualified therapist in your area, please use these real world or virtual resources to fit your special needs:

 

NCBTMB:      (800) 296-0664           or         http://www.ncbtmb.com

AMTA:           (877) 905-2700           or         http://www.amtamassage.org

ABMP:            (800) 458-2267           or         http://www.abmp.com

IMA:               (540) 351-0800           or         http://www.imagroup.com

 

Choosing the perfect therapist may be a difficult task, but using these benchmarks will certainly ensure that you make the best choice for your bodywork needs.

 

Author:  David J Otto, LMT NCTMB

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