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.

Small Business Saturday – Another Shopping Holiday?

When more than 50% of the workforce in the United States works in a Small Business1, it’s no wonder that American Express’s wildly-catchy Small Business Saturday has joined the shopping Holiday Season immediately following Black Friday, the Saturday before Cyber Monday.

141125 SBS-AX imagePre-Black Friday – Opinions?

The mega-companies that have been trying to up the stakes and increase Our Calendars’ real estate for their marketing and spending of Holiday Season dollars that they “own” in the season of buying where “the best deals” are offered have been plagued with the fruits of their labor…namely their labor issues, public-created mob mentalities with SUPER-early store openings on Black Friday (even as far ahead as “the day before” – Thanksgiving Day) and rock-bottom pricing, and the fallout from companies that provide products that are just released and fighting to get shelf space and air-time for their commercials…by starting the shopping Season earlier.

Personally, I have always worked in the customer/guest service industry and have been working on holidays as long as I can remember.  When I gained enough seniority to be able to pick a holiday that I wanted to be “off”, I always picked Thanksgiving.  To me, Thanksgiving is a time to be WITH family and friends and enjoy the many wonderful blessings and fortunes that we have amassed throughout the year – a good harvest, to be acknowledged and enjoyed by all…no matter how epic or quaint the celebration.

Complaints by employees and customers alike of super-chains like Walmart, Target, Macy’s…to name a few…that will be open on Thanksgiving Day around 5pm or 6pm makes people start wondering about the fairness of it all.  Websites and Facebook Pages dedicated to supporting businesses who treat their employees in a more traditional sense – letting them be with their families ON the holiday itself – are springing up.  They are eager to promote personal time spent at home, with families, and promulgators and critics supporting family values by listing the stores, in their local areas, that will be open for business.  This serves two purposes:

  1. it tells people who do want to break away from tradition for shopping, where to shop on Thanksgiving; and,
  2. it tells people who do not want to break away from Tradition where NOT to shop on any other day of the upcoming & soon-to-follow shopping Holiday, if visibly ‘not supporting’ those non-Traditional companies is their goal.

Another ploy for your holiday dollars?

I think the media and marketing mogul mayhem created by this frenzied, fanatical firestorm is a choice of the American Consumer – it is an environment that is created by giga-companies, but can be tamed and diminutized by the patrons of these giga-companies.  I found an interesting analysis of the past 6-8 years’ trend of holiday shopping windows of time becoming earlier…and more spread out…to get away from the mayhem.  And: what is the ‘hourly changing of prices’ the author is referring to?  Wicked…and not Customer- or Experience-Oriented.

But, still: is Small Business Saturday just another ploy to garner your hard-earned dollars?

To me, American Express made an investment in one of the fastest-growing markets in America today – small business owners – when they made popular, through marketing and strategic social media alliances, their campaign back in 2010.

You may not know this, but American Express invested in small businesses through social media that has brought attention and notoriety to brick and mortar establishments that would otherwise be lost in the fray of the larger, giga-companies whose practices seem to reflect the nature of their sizeable beast.

Click on the image to enlarge @ Column Five Media

Click on the image to enlarge @ Column Five Media

I think small businesses today, and in the foreseeable future, offer a personalized touch that aims to support not only their own families and employees, but also the neighborhoods’ efforts to build community and a sense of belonging – a value that the giga-companies strive to but seemingly and evidentially do not achieve as a whole.

So, Yes: it is an awareness campaign that seeks to draw attention to smaller companies and highlight the features and benefits of becoming familiar with and a regular part of the community in which a customer lives.

Remote, a number, a statistic, a target, a segment, an audience: these are all phrases and senses of identity that alienate a customer when folded into the theories and practices of capitalism from a skyscraper’s corner, window office.  These are practices of giga-companies and there is no way around it – it is their nature.  To manage such enormous expectations of service and protection from liability, these terms become every day terms of endearment for their customers.

Discovering Value – “on Sale”…or not

When a person shops local, buys local, and reinvests locally, with a known, well-reputed small business, they are building experiences that put themselves in the context of community, confidence, commiseration, and collaboration.

There are over 22 million self-employed small businesses in the United States2 – over 50% of the working 120 million individuals in the U.S. work in a small business3.

The internet is such a great place to discover small businesses these days – from reviews by real people (read “why they’re important”, at Milo), to product availability and delivery to your door, virtual tours of establishments, to video interview with the owners themselves, discovering local businesses has never been more accessible…and desired by customers and residents in the neighborhood (see infographic Figure).

Shameless plug for Hands In Motion Therapeutic Massage services

I invite you to celebrate small businesses – When it comes to investigating and investing in your health, discover if massage therapy is a part of your health care goals.  Read about massage, about me, my client testimonials and reviews on Yelp, and contact me, via email or give me a call, if you want to know more about my practice, schedule an appointment, or get a referral to a qualified healthcare practitioner – I will do my best to make sure your needs are fulfilled.

To help you understand massage and my practice a little better, I am offering a $20 savings on your next 60-minute massage with me in December – regular price: $70.  I come to your home with table, linens, music, and an eclectic style of massage that integrates all the modalities you might need to relax, relieve pain, or mentally restart your kinetic chain or neural patterning.

I look forward to seeing you for your massage – the sooner, the better!

Click HERE to schedule your December #SmallBusinessSaturday Signature Massage

SNEAK PEEK at HIM’s November 29th-ONLY #SmallBusinessSaturday Special!

#SBS Signature Massage – 60 mins

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A therapeutic massage that is developed specifically for you, based on your needs at the time of session.  Utilizes a variety of modalities, including: Swedish, Russian Sports, Trigger Point Therapy, and Structural Integration, to name a few.  Deep or Moderate pressure are always optional and included in this eclectic method.

60 minutes – $50

No other discounts or promotions/programs apply – One per client, please. Location of outcall massage must be within HIM’s business license jurisdictions (Cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, and Clark County – map) and is based on availability (appointment only).  IS TRANSFERRABLE.  MUST be used by December 31, 2014 – if scheduled after, regular pricing (“$70”) applies – you may pay the difference upon delivery of service. Ω

 

1 generally, less than 500 employees – more: https://www.sba.gov/content/what-sbas-definition-small-business-concern
2 according to Forbes in a Sep 2013 publication – Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/09/09/16-surprising-statistics-about-small-businesses/
3 according to Forbes in a Sep 2013 publication – Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/09/09/16-surprising-statistics-about-small-businesses/

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.

Deep Tissue Issues: No Pain, No Damage

Deep Tissue Massage is a term that is both comforting and productive when you think about getting a massage.  As a client, you might want to “get out the knots” or “alleviate pain” in a particular area of your body.  As a therapist, there is a plan, a particular intent to achieving a successful feeling of relief for your client at the end of a massage or a series of massages.  But the client takes a risk receiving a deep tissue massage from a therapist they haven’t worked with before OR from whom they’ve never asked for a “deep tissue” massage.  This article addresses method, concerns, and resolutions to requesting, anticipating, and giving & receiving a deep tissue massage, for clients and therapists.

The Plan

Clients often respond to their therapist’s question “What areas would you like me to work on today?” with designating specific areas that they have recently been feeling pain in or having issues with.  It is common for the therapist to devise a plan to address those areas with some specific work, using a specific method.  This need expressed by the client and solution presented by the therapist is very often verbally communicated, but sometimes is expressed through body language during the massage session.

Your massage therapist can and should comply with verbal direction…immediately. It is critical that for a successful session, for the client to experience relief without pain, that the therapist be aware of the boundaries of the muscle that s/he is addressing at any given time.

Intent. Deep Tissue massage, when done correctly, allows the most pressure to be delivered for proper physiological response – a “release” to occur – and leaves the tissue specifically worked undamaged.  Too much pressure can damage tissue, causing micro-tears in the fibers or bruising.  Too little pressure is simply ineffective for the purposes of release and resetting of the fibers.

What It Is. Many times, therapists will ask a client “do you bruise easily?” to clarify the client’s propensity for damage to the tissue, if they are aware and may have a prior experience with bruising after a deep tissue massage.  The client may be advised that, if they do bruise easily, that it may be a result of the deep tissue work they’re about to perform, the unusual pressure that will be delivered to any specific area, and that the response or failure of the tissue to release during or before the eventual lengthening effect the work will have this effect.

What it “could be”. Most times, it is the non-verbal communication by the client that presents a challenge to the therapist in understanding what muscles and systems need and have the ability to be addressed on a deeper level, by both the client and the therapist.  I believe that effective, non-verbal communication is crucial to delivering a well-planned and effective deep tissue session.

Receiving a Deep Tissue Massage

for the massage client

During the massage, although you may have a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction initially, first try to consciously and verbally express any discomfort – you may allow the therapist to “dig in” and allow the elbow, knuckles, or pointed tool (like finger tips), to access the areas where you’re feeling the chronic or acute pain, thereby increasing the sensation of pain that often accompanies the massage work.  BUT, if you anticipate or there is sharp pain or increased, persistent pain, you should tell your therapist…it is commonly understood by therapists: this is not the intent of deep tissue massage.

Why not? When there is pain, the body automatically (on a conscious or unconscious level) enters a protection mode – during this time, the brain is trained to respond to the type of pain in the area of the body where it is being experienced, and will, over time, automatically respond in the same, defensive manner by splinting, or tightening up, the muscle that is being targeted for massage.  When a muscle is engaged, or shortened, massage has a substantially less (if any) effect on the targeted, now short, muscle.

Since the intention of a [deep tissue] massage is to relax, or lengthen, muscles, this response to pain – the shortening, contraction, or engagement of the muscle, (spoken or not, conscious or unconscious) does not help the tissue or the therapist to get where they need to be, organically or procedurally, to release the tissue.  Longer times or multiple sessions with the same muscle are needed for massage therapy to be applied if the threshold of pain is crossed too often, resulting in little or no effect on the target muscle or muscle group.

Pressure needs to be lessened or another technique used to relax the tissue, so ‘deep tissue’ becomes a modality that is ineffective if it is no longer used during the session due to the body protecting the muscle.

So, communicate verbally and non-verbally with your therapist so s/he understands that deep tissue massage techniques are or are not appropriate at the right times.

for the massage therapist

Clients may not understand, be able to tell you, or even want to tell you about the pain they may be anticipating or actually experiencing because s/he may believe it is a part of the healing process.

Therapist Awareness. Beingness can be defined as the therapist’s state of awareness – a ‘listening’ state – that includes anticipation of what the tissue needs (or doesn’t, when it comes to pressure) – simply being aware of how the tissue reacts to touch, pressure, and manipulation is SO important.

Before the session. To avoid micro-damage to the targeted muscle or surrounding area and to avoid any long-term discomfort from the massage or a complaint phone call, explain to them your understanding of pain as associated with deep tissue massage, ask their understanding, and then come to an agreement of what it is that’s in your scope to practice and what they can expect to be a “deep tissue” massage from you.

Coach them on how to communicate with you during the session, verbally.  It is much better to be able to respond immediately to verbal and non-verbal cues from your client – be in a ‘listening state’.

Always ask for feedback if you felt the session was intense for your client, based on their comments or their body language.  It is better to address the concern closer to the session on which the feedback is based so you can effectively help them recover, avoid, or even expect what they may perceive as a negative experience.

  • If you get feedback immediately following the session, respond immediately: a simple suggestion on how to clear the interstitial space that harbors blood causing the appearance of a bruise will help them recover more quickly.
  • Ask them to wait a few days to update you or observe how they feel: often times the client will feel much better than before the massage, even though there are some sensitive bruises present.

If you get feedback from your client that they bruised last time you worked on them, be ultra-sensitive to that fact and recall the amount of pressure you delivered last session with him/her and start off with conservative pressure.  The client should be able to remind you or make you aware of any thresholds they are getting ready to cross based on their experience with you.  Compassion and action will guide you to deliver a conservative yet effective pressure.

some explanations of a “bad” deep tissue massage

Therapist Inexperience. There is one saving grace for a therapist that technically is not experienced or experienced enough in a client’s eyes.  That is: the ability to ‘listen and act.’  Verbal and non-verbal cues given by a client receiving deep work are ALWAYS important information that a trained therapist needs to be able to act on.  A good therapist, no matter their tenure in practice, will immediately respond/act on the client’s given information.  How they act can always be in the best interest of the health of the client.

Client Inexperience. In my experience, when someone tells me they ‘like it really deep’, a flag goes up…the acceptance or need for pain to achieve a psychological level of relief is not within my scope as a massage therapist to address, and this is something I advise my clients of.  So, here are some of my thoughts on ‘why people tell their next therapist that they’ve had massage that hurt in the past:’

On the other hand, in the case a client does not like pain as a side-order of their deep tissue massage, I believe some clients wait to tell their next therapist that their last massage was “too deep” for any one or more of these reasons:

  • Politeness. They may not have been able to mentally bring themselves to tell their last therapist during the session.  It’s not the therapist’s fault or it’s not in the client’s nature to say something to cause what the client his/herself would perceive as conflict in an environment that they want to be stress-free.  If the MT did a good job of creating that environment of relaxation and trust, then the last thing I think the client wants to do is rain on anyone’s parade.
  • Bad Customer Service. Generally, “bad” experiences are related more quickly and often than good ones – it is a customer service fact, proven time and time again in many types of business, including a massage therapy practice.  It could be a form of release for the client, but if we communicate with and coach them to properly assess and classify their massage experiences, there’s less reason for the client to complain to the next MT (who can themselves literally do nothing to change the client’s previous experience).

Be a Proactive Therapist When Faced With A Complaint About “My Last Massage…”

Here are a number of things I may ask of and communicate to a client that has had a bad deep tissue experience and who is now relating it to me:

1.      Empathize/Sympathize with his/her situation

2.      Educate, through asking key questions, like:

a.      “Did you tell your therapist?  If you did, then you need to stop the session next time

b.      “Did you tell your therapist afterward?  There might be other considerations in your physical condition that the therapist can further advise you on how to resolve if massage causes pain for you…”

c.      “Did you drink enough water before your massage? (Do you think you might have been dehydrated?)“…and then tell them the effects of ‘not enough water’ on tissue during a massage…

d.      “Did you have an injury in the area or anomaly that you didn’t have in previous sessions that could have been negatively affected by massage?”  The client could have a condition that they don’t know about of which peripheral neuropathy is a symptom, like Fibromyalgia Syndrome or Lupus or Diabetes.  Or they could’ve had a couple of alcoholic drinks or were on medication that reduces mechanical sensory input.

e.      “How long was it since your last massage (before your bad massage)?“…and then tell them about tissue memory & elasticity and how ‘getting back into the groove’ can be a factor in what depth they can receive after a long stay away from deep massage.

3.      Define my relationship with this client (in so many words, and without saying: I am not “their last therapist”) – assure him/her that I will be aware of their needs and requests at all times during the deep tissue massage.

Avoid a potential ‘bad’ massage because of ineffective communication

A massage therapist’s depth can be perceived as invasive, intrusive, and inconsiderate, BUT – when I understand why Clients complain to the next therapist, I realize there is NOT A THING I can do about it…eg. to change their behavior.  All I can do is change my own.  Following are some scenarios I’ve experienced and consider when I think there is [going to be] a ‘too deep’ issue:

1.      Problem: The client didn’t tell the therapist ‘it’s too deep’ – It could be that the client didn’t feel like they could say anything to their MT about the discomfort – maybe they didn’t feel like their feedback would be welcome.  so they go ahead and receive a massage that’s ‘too deep’.

Solution: In reply to the question “how’s that pressure?’ a client says “good” in that monotone voice, change something: either go deeper, change speed, go lighter, slow down – something’s not satisfactory to the client.  Now: you can’t squeeze it out of them, so ask again about the pressure at another point – while you’re touching the client, doing the deep work.

2.      Problem: They haven’t had a massage in a while – often, getting a massage after not having one for a while is like getting back into the gym after you’ve been out several months after previously going 3 times a week.  Muscles are stretched, poked, and pressed…and the fibers are not always as flexible or elastic as the client thought they would be.

Solution: Preset your ‘deep scale’ to a lighter mode – and tell them that’s what you’re doing!  If you set the expectation, they will be happy…because what you said would happen, is happening during the massage 🙂

3.      Problem: The client didn’t drink enough water before the massage – water is a medium that is essential for the muscle tissue and fascia to move easily over itself.  Without the lubricant internally as well as externally, friction causes irritation and possibly inflammation on, at least, a microscopic level…thus, the discomfort.

Solution: give them water – tell them why you’re suggesting water for them…that minute!  Explain that preparing for a massage with drinking water can reduce the pain they might experience after a deeper massage.

4.      Problem: The client is experiencing changes in their metabolism or other physical changes are occurring.

Solution: be aware of conditions, considerations, and contraindications for doing massage.  If you have a question about practicing on a person with or in a particular condition, you might always want to preface

Some bottom line solutions for me, as a massage therapist:

  • I am open to constructive and even negative criticism – I realize that I am there to facilitate his/her healing.
  • If I don’t exercise due diligence in making sure at any point that my client is happy with the pressure, I risk a client complaining later, either to me (after the fact) or to another therapist.

Ultimately: What Works

Some clients like the ‘hurts so good’ feeling, and they always are sore the next day – this can be a sought after feeling for some clients who psychologically are subjecting themselves to pain inflicted by another for something that is out of the scope of the MT’s control.  Maybe after they’re sore the next day, the following day they feel great!  This could be a method of healing for them, psychologically and physically.

There are conditions that I’ve seen that benefit from being sore during the massage or even the next day – one condition of the client is that of fibromyalgia.  FibroMyalgia Syndrome (FMS) patients take the pain in order to feel great the next day – there are some FMS patients that have enough experience to realize that the positive effects of the pain experienced during a deep tissue massage are worth experiencing the pain of the moment (during a massage, deep tissue or otherwise).

When I look at the overall meaning of the term “deep tissue”, it means to me a level of awareness and that I need to have a heightened sense of listening and responsiveness to my client’s needs.  When a client requests this as a modality (on a menu, for example) I think they have been trained to understand, through experience or explanation, that “deep tissue” is a mode of performing a massage.  In fact, I understand “deep tissue massage” to be a technique of Swedish massage or a technique encompassed by another modality which indicates a level of superficial or profound system or musculature address.

The client misperception of the term “deep tissue” also indicates to me that the client is expecting a predetermined protocol and that they are willing and able to compromise their comfort level of receiving, risking tissue damage, to order what they perceive as a higher level of massage session.  Why would a professional set up an expectation for their client of “more pain(ful), more gain(ful)” in what is perceived as a predetermined and traditionally-accepted menu format?  For me, the depth and need for any specific level of pressure is always determined per client AND by session, and can vary greatly from health condition to season.

I have always been a proponent for a “one price massage”, removing what I believe is a misconception that the depth of a massage is more valuable the deeper it is.  Deeper does not necessarily mean “more therapeutic” – appropriate depth IS more therapeutic.  You could be an athlete that just ran a marathon: deep tissue is not appropriate up to 24 hours post-event.  You could be a cancer patient and deep tissue could NOT be appropriate only in certain areas or affecting certain systems.  You could be suffering from edema or lymphedema, whereby a diagnosis and working with the client’s doctor is more appropriate before applying deep strokes that can be damaging, or at the least, ineffective.

Ultimately. In my opinion, the client determines depth of stroke on a session-by-session, moment-by-moment, and stroke-by-stroke basis – and needs to be understood and applied immediately, appropriately, effectively, and compassionately – as to not do harm – by every massage therapist.

Take these thoughts and suggestions with you and see your massage become more productive – every time you get a deep tissue massage.

Practitioner Safety Measures in the Wake of ‘Masseuse’ Murder

Philip Markoff, accused of robbing, assaulting, and murdering Julissa Brisman on April 14th, has been arrested and held without bail, pending an investigation that provides enough evidence to bring him to trial.  Amongst the other items found relating to his alleged crime in his home was a semi-automatic pistol that may have been used during the crimes he’s been accused of committing – another victim, who survived his alleged robbery and assault by Markoff, has come forward with her story.

Read more about the current state of the case here (on MSN.com news).

The common thread in Markoff’s suspected attempted robberies and assaults, and in the last case: murder, is the method of contact for the claimed ‘masseuses’ he was contacting for services: Craigslist.  Thus, he has been dubbed the “Craigslist Killer” by the media – and massage therapy is involved, as well.

It is unclear to authorities at this time as to which section of Craigslist that he obtained contact information for the victims, but contact was initiated through email first, then by phone.  All reports indicate there was a massage table, set up, in the room in Boston, but it was also indicated that Brisman rented the room in the upscale hotel under her name.

In a recent email sent to members of the AMTA, they explain that, in response to many questions coming into their organization from members about the murder and assaults; they are “continuing to research means to have Craigslist remove all advertising that links massage to illegal activity.  This includes ongoing contacts with national, state and local law enforcement agencies.”  AMTA also states that in November 2008, 40 states’ Attorneys General came to an agreement with Craigslist site owners to “clean out prostitutes and posters of other illegal activity.”  The efforts and results of the site owners have a long way to go.

Law Enforcement is encouraging any victims of assault or robbery through Craigslist or any other means of contact with a massage therapist or person that’s been a victim of crime to come forward, make their complaint, and allow law enforcement to do their job of protecting citizens from violent crimes.

As a concerned MT in an industry that is constantly fighting the battle for its own identity, disassociating itself with illicit behavior and prostitution, I STRONGLY encourage massage business owners to be aware of their surroundings, situation, and who their client really is (to the best of their ability), and act on your gut.  Intuition is often neglected or ignored and can be a driving mechanism that keeps an MT out of harm’s way…if acknowledged AND acted upon.

How do I ‘know’ who my client is?safety01-588x400

I get new clients by referral from people that are already clients or whom I already know.  It never hurts to talk about what you do or start a conversation about massage with someone (a friend, family member, or co-worker) who will ultimately remember you as an MT and refer new clients to you regularly.  Offer an incentive to referrers to ‘help’ their memory remember you as an MT when the time is right.

I do not advertise on Craigslist or in the yellow pages, so my risk is not as high for getting in touch with people I do not know.  But I was almost a victim of fraud (that would have cost me thousands), almost been in a situation where I would have worked and not been paid, and almost been assaulted, several times.

Here are a few of my suggestions for how I know to follow my gut AND end a session when I felt it was needed (for my own personal safety):

Before The Session

How did you get your call? In spas and places of business, it’s a little easier to see them coming.  Listen for requests for a specific type of therapist:  Blonde, a particular nationality, even gender are some signs to make an MT aware of potential misconduct.  In private practice, asking “how did you hear about me?” should be answered immediately and without hesitation, as most calls are made soon after trying to find an MT by conventional advertisement means.

Do you ‘walk the talk?’ Making your client aware of your intent for the session prior to (like on the phone, talking about what they want out of the massage or what areas they want worked on) and immediately prior to (like on an intake form) the session.  Many therapists also state that it is a ‘non-sexual’ massage:  I really cringe at this statement, because if there is a question or the MT has had experiences in the past with [attempted] sexual assault or innuendo, then part of the problem could be that there may not have been effective communication prior to the session, either through advertising, conversation, or other written forms of informed consent about the session.

Do you confirm your appointments? Restating your intent by verbally recognizing the massage needs of the client on the phone the day before the appointment reaffirms your intent and the fact that you’ve ‘got their number.’  If you are responding to a call the same day, you may verify their number by calling back, something you might make a habit for every client, but especially those of whom you may be suspicious.  Remember: the gut never lies.

Do you take credit cards? Another way to identify the person with whom you are doing business is to take credit card payments…and require them for everyone whom you do not know initially, or maybe for everyone in general, or for only outcalls, or for whomever you think needs to have their identity bolstered a little more.  The cost of taking a credit card varies, but I think the cost of doing business will pay for itself if you have even 1 fraudulent or non-payment per year.  Credit cards require the person holding the card to be the cardholder and to actually have the card in their hand.  Further verification of cardholder information is open to you as a merchant and requires you’re asking for their ID and the credit card used to verify identity of the cardholder to the purchase by way of codes on the card, signature, and embossed names.  I use Paypal: free, effective for encrypted purchases (from the client’s standpoint), and secures information about the purchaser – a paper trail.

During The Sessionsafety02-588x400

Got Buddy? If you are not communicating with someone that you know or whom is outside of the actual session, you may consider harnessing the power of the ‘buddy system’ when going to outcall massage sessions.  Call your Buddy while you’re in the room:  let your client know you have to check in with your Buddy/spouse/friend/etc and that the phone call/text will just be a moment.   You can do it while you’re washing up, but it is important to let your client know that you are in contact with someone who knows where you are and what time you are to be done with the session.

Especially for those going to hotels where environment is not as under control as the client you are meeting for the first time (or subsequently), checking in with the front desk or concierge may be your best buddy, as they are a direct line to help when you need it.  By them knowing you are there and what time you should be down to check in with them again after the session, they can be the fastest and most secure way of assuring that assistance is close by.  Also, if you confirm the guest name on the room (that you were told by the client), then that could be another way to dispel any suspicions.  The agent will not tell you what the room is, in case it is not the same, so be sure to ask the client PRIOR to asking the front desk in whose name the room is listed, in case the client’s name is not the same on the room.

Mobile Phone as luggage. Take your cell phone with you – in a spa, this is not possible for liability reasons…but, if you are a private practitioner, it is a necessity for safety reasons.  You may ‘appear’ to be confirming your location and attendance in the session, in front of the client, as part of your process when you go to a hotel room by calling or texting a buddy – or you may [i]actually[/i] be calling/texting someone of your location.  In case of emergency, it may be the only/fastest way for you to get in contact with someone.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign. The client is showing signs of committing or commits the act – STOP THE SESSION!  Go outside your Self, Go outside your ego, practice doing this outside the situation by having the conversation with another professional or confidant.  When it happens, STOP THE SESSION!  If you are in imminent danger, flee.  If you are not sure of the intent of the client, pack up and leave.  If you decide to ask for or wait to collect your money – if you haven’t already collected it – you are taking an unnecessary risk – your safety is worth more than your fee for one massage session!

These are just a few things that you can do to help keep you safe and practicing without risk of mental or physical harm.  If you have any things that you use to assure you peace of mind when working with clients whom you do not know (or even know), post them here – it’s sure to help out someone to see many different successful ways of being safe.

To Deep…or Not Too Deep? Bodies on the Table Series

Massage is a great way to relieve stress, deepornot01588x400get all the toxins out, and just feel centered and relaxed in general. But there is a science to what your bodyworker is doing and how your body responds while you are zoning out to the tunes of nature on the beach and breathing deeply before you sink into that half-conscious Zen state after your session has started. Let’s find out what happens to your body while you are getting bodywork!
In this series of articles, we’ll talk about the physical responses of your body when you are receiving bodywork. We’ll address many aspects of what is happening in your body that gives you that “I feel like Jell-o” sensation when you get off the table or floor!
In this article, let’s talk about the depth of the stroke of a massage therapist. There are many preferences for the pressure that you may ask for in your massage. Some like a relaxing massage that incorporates flowing, rhythmic, or fluid strokes that are felt all over the body. Some like an invigorating massage that stimulates, encourages an increased circulation, or really addresses the “knots” you’ve been battling with for quite sometime or just recently. No matter your preference, your therapist is considering your physical response to the application of each stroke throughout the session.
Massage carries the connotation and characteristics of a good stretching workout. Your therapist manipulates your muscle tissue and fascia ultimately lengthening the fibers. They press, increasing the distance between the attachments of your muscles. This pressing, or lengthening, of the muscle resets the areas of muscle and tissue where chronic or acute shortness occurs. It also releases toxins into the surrounding space in between the muscle cells and tissues in your body.
The pressure by which your muscle and tissue is lengthened can cause micro-tears and damage to the cells, even in healthy tissue. Sometimes you may feel sore after a massage. There are several reasons you may feel this; one reason may be that your muscles are repairing themselves from the micro-tears that have been sustained from a firm massage or stretching session.
deepornot02588x400Part of the way your therapist detects how hard to press or squeeze is by your verbal communication indicating “That’s a little too much pressure” or “You can go harder, if you want.” The other way your therapist knows how much pressure to apply is by the holding or contraction of the muscle (or surrounding musculature) that is being addressed with the stroke. If your muscle tightens or you tighten up throughout the area, this is your body’s way of protecting itself from the micro- or macro-scopic damage that could be easily caused by “too much” pressure. Bruising may even occur, although rare, and only in cases where your physical condition is more prone to bruising, even in a specific area of the body.
There are many ways to recognize the best pressure for your body.

    1. If it is your first massage, let your therapist determine the depth of the stroke by applying the stroke in every area of the massage: notice the areas in which you may want more or less pressure in the future.
    2. If you have just completed and athletic event, it is always best to receive a more relaxing technique of massage in order not to damage the muscles further and to allow the muscle to recover and repair without inhibition.
    3. The amount of muscle or tissue you have is not always directly proportional to the amount of pressure you “need;” pressure preferences can range from little muscle needs a lot of pressure to much muscle needs a little pressure.
    4. Depending on your experience and habit of receiving bodywork, you may graduate into a deeper pressure the more you receive massage; if you get massage weekly, it is safe to have deeper pressure as your cells will be used to and will recognize the power of a deeper massage, especially on the deep layers of muscle that are hard to get to or have not been addressed yet.

In any case, always give verbal feedback if the pressure is too much or too little for your taste, but ultimately trust the therapist to “know when to say when” in order to avoid macro-scopic damage or other negative physical responses based on your health condition at the time of your session.
With regular massage (and stretching) your body soon comes to realize that longer muscles are more efficient and work better and are in less pain more often. The cells in your tendons that detect the length of a muscle are able to pay less attention to the shortness of the muscle and spend more time on kicking back and enjoying the massage!

Winds of Change Blowing: Professional Association & State Boards Support New Benchmarking Tool – the MBLEx

Wouldn’t you just love to be able to walk into a state board – ANY state board – and hand them [your state’s license] credentials, including the passing of one test recognized by all states, and they say “No problem! Here you go,– now: go out and do massage.”

Although that scene could have been difficult to imagine 5 or 10 years ago, that seems to be where the massage therapy industry, where regulation is concerned, is heading.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), a leading professional association operated for and by more than 58,000 massage therapists, announced last week its support for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx), the newest American massage therapy professional exam on the block. The AMTA has supported the industry- & jurisdictionally-recognized National Certification Exam (NCE) and  finds that the newest licensing exam, developed & administered by the FSMTB (whose membership is primarily composed of state massage boards) is the next evolutionary step and “the best choice” in national credentialing for massage therapists in America.

It seems that the AMTA (a major influence in the areas of professionalism, professional representation to other fields of healthcare, and largest representation by mere numbers of a massage-therapist-only organization) is also supporting the entity of choice of the state boards that are moving to a more unified and portable licensing situation, which I can say has been and is a dream for our industry.

mblex-2-110x110Just to recap:

· The MBLEx is the test given by the FSMTB

· The NCE is the test given by the NCBTMB – two versions are NCETM (Therapeutic Massage) & NCETMB (Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork)

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) administers the MBLEx, which is comparable to the NCETM/B, administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Although the NCBTMB uses massage instructors, allied professionals (like chiropractors and physical therapists), the public and federal jurisdictions in developing the NCE, the development of another non-credential-bearing version of the NCB’s ‘stamp of approval’ for passers of the NCE, the NESL, has come a little late in the development of the reigning Certifiers of professionals in the massage therapy industry.

It seems that the NCBTMB does not include State Boards of Massage Therapy in the development of the benchmark testing of their NCE, and that there is not a like mind shared by all State Boards of Massage Therapy that agrees on the applicability of the NCE in each of the State Boards’ jurisdictions.

The MBLEx and the FSMTB is fast becoming state massage therapy boards’ preference for a professional benchmark to determine whether an MT is competent enough to practice massage therapy in the specific Board’s state.

Last year, the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists (NSBMT) became a member of the Federation of State Boards of Massage Therapy (FSMTB), joining the fast-growing numbers of state boards of massage therapy in the US.

Stats:

o 42: States Massage-Regulated in the U.S.

o 32: States Massage-Regulated in the U.S. and using the NCE

o 25: State Massage Boards also FSMTB members

What does this mean to [Nevada] Massage Therapists?

In my opinion, immediately, it will mean that in the next few years, the exam taken for applying for Nevada’s massage therapist professional license will be changing. Ultimately, it will mean interstate portability for a massage therapy license. And in the big scheme of things, a national professional license. And in the universal application of the implications, the universal (intra- and inter-national) ability to practice massage professionally with the same credentials. Now EVEN BIGGER that Universal implications could be BUSINESS LICENSEs are Universal, too – but I think that’s pushing it…just a bit.

Most of us have “grown up” with either the local business license office or state board requiring the NCTM/B credential: taking the NCE and getting the certificate to take copies to their offices. It does not mean (at least to the AMTA) that the NCE is not a valid exams: the AMTA clearly stated in their email (dated Jan 26th, 2009) to its members:

The national certification credential needs to be an important part of any grandfathering process.”


Will the MBLEx replace the NCE?

Who knows for sure? It is an Act in a Play that we are seeing for the first time – and we/ve read no reviews! The happenings in our field are new and changing, like a road on a trip that you’ve never taken before – destination: Unity.

The process of new licensing in Nevada may be changing slightly. A note: Change is inevitable…and it is also very slow in our industry, where regulation is associated; it doesn’t happen overnight.

The State of Nevada’s NSBMT is a member of the FSMTB, but they are not using the MBLEx as a benchmark at this time for regular application, but have stated that they will consider applicants that are relying on having taken the MBLEx for their NVMT application in individual review. I project the notice of complete change of requirement from the NCE to the MBLEx will come when the Nevada Legislation is passed, changing the requirements for exam to be taken by applicants for massage therapy license. Please refer to the posted NSBMT record of minutes in the October 24th, 2008 meeting.

One way to know where the test requirement is in the process is to keep up to date with the NSBMT by attending their meetings open to the Public or reviewing the approved minutes for each NSBMT meeting, available online here.

Viability of the MBLEx

I have no idea how the tests compare – without actually taking the MBLEx after taking the NCETMB, I have no springboard to base any opinion on which one is more credible, researched, relevant, or easy. Although…I am VERY tempted just to take the MBLEx to see how I do – It’s been so long since I’ve studied for an exam!mblex-3-110x110

Learn more about the MBLEx here

Learn more about the FSMTB here

The Choice of a Premier Professional Association

Through the AMTA invention, convention, direction, and redistribution of volunteer time and non-profit funds paid for by members and vested partners, they have established themselves as a motivator and leading performer in the massage therapy and professional association industries.

In my opinion, this is a fundamental commitment on behalf of the AMTA. Which means, if, in the estimation of more than 58,000 massage therapists, more state boards are being formed all the time, the state’s MT Boards opt to become member of the FSMTB, and the MBLEx is the test of choice because of unification of regulation and legislation factors, then endorsing the MBLEx and educating all its members and making information about the MBLEx available to the public and the association’s members is a good choice.

will the Clark County Public Hearing matter anyway?

So, since the letter from Clark County Business License was sent to massage therapy business owners in the County in February, the Public Hearing regarding the proposed Ordinance 1713-07 has been postponed twice – now, it’s scheduled for May 21st, 9am, at the Clark County Government Center on Grand Central Pkwy in Las Vegas.

The only thing I’ve seen is that steam is building on the MT (specifically, Independents) side, and I’ve seen a few interested and opinionated Establishments get involved, too.  I am really anxious to appear, speak, and see who else is appearing to fight this attempted blow of oppression on an industry that is slowly tearing itself away from being associated with prostitution in this Valley.

But:  Will this steam be productive?  Has the Commission been “advised” already as to the potential and expected turnout from business owners that received the proposterous letter suggesting that massage therapy “crime” has increased and they need a way to keep it under control?

Will they realize (or have they realized) that this poor attempt to micro-manage massage therapy business owners to take the fall for an obviously non-oppressed prostitution industry is too feeble?

Why have they continued to put off a confrontation and a business owner’s right to voice their opinions about laws that they see as serving the safety of the public [Clark County]?

I think it is because there is no value in the proposal – they are attempting to levy power that constitutionally is reserved for the massage therapy business owners to do business according to the needs of their clients in a 24-hour, transient town.

Licensing is a recording and taxing method, not a “moral” issue, for which they’ve not proven there has been unruly law-breaking going on by massage therapists.  Only unrestrained prostitution is the concern, and the fact that the crime rate has gone up only shows that Metro is performing their duty according to the current law.

Since the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists was created and made law in 2006 (grandfathering for currently-licensed MTs until July 1, 2007), the Board has shouldered the responsibility of verifying the professional credentials and legitimacy of MTs practicing everywhere in the state of Nevada – even Clark County.  The County no longer has to prove that an MT passes a Federal background check (for civil or criminal charges or convictions) or that an MT is qualified to do the work they advertise, based on industry-established norms.

Why make us pay?  Why continue with this proposal?  Why not support the District Attorney when prosecuting solicitation endictments?

I guess they’d have to triple the size of County Jail to incarcerate the convicted prostitutes, which would have more than the “none” (cited) fiscal impact that passing this Ordinance would have on massage therapy business owners.

 

SEE OTHER MASSAGE THERAPIST’S OPINIONS AT:  http://massage.meetup.com/251

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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