Grad Chronicle – Natalie Durkin

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Natalie Durkin, LMT

I attended Semesters 1 & 2 at TLC during 1999-2000. My immediate passion became working with clients for pain management, sports performance, and rehabilitative/restorative bodywork. In my first years starting out, I continued to work part-time in corporate office environments while completing my licensing requirements and building my practice.

In the Winter of 2002 I was laid off from the corporate job, which although terrifying in the immediate, it was the springboard I used to get serious and make my career as a full-time, sole-proprietor massage therapist come to life. It’s been nearly 15 years since I started, and I’m still at it!

Through the years, I have worked in most aspects of the therapeutic massage industry, ranging from outcalls, to chair massage at ABIA, to contracting for chiropractors and acupuncturists, and even worked with fellow massage therapists to create online support tools for less-experienced LMTs. I have worked with NCAA Basketball MVPs and Olympic Athletes from disciplines ranging from swimming, diving and beach volleyball. Let’s not forget countless weekend warriors and ultra-stressed office workers.

I have been in private practice for the last 10 years, and currently see my clients at my studio located on 11th Street near the Capitol. I also teach and compete in Tai Chi, training students of all levels, and have won Tournament Grand Champion at competitions. I currently enjoy incorporating aspects of Tai Chi postural alignment into my client education suggestions.

My advice for new therapists? Hang in there, stay focused, and provide excellent service. Be accountable in your business practices as well as having healing hands. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to let clients go who aren’t a good fit; there is enough work for everyone. Consider joining a networking group, or using a professional coach when starting out. Most of all, never ever lose sight of the help, peace-of-mind (and body!), and well-being that you provide to folks on a daily basis. You are awesome and your clients love you!

N

READING EMOTIONS THROUGH THE ENERGY BODY

by Jim McCormick

CLIENT: MALE, 45, Engineer, healthy

ZB FRAME: “I WANT YOU TO HELP ME REMOVE MY DOUBT.”

ZB SESSION:

The client didn’t specify exactly what doubt he wanted to get rid of. He was not really open to doing a lot of processing about it verbally. When he asked for that frame I immediately had a lot of doubt. Could I really deliver on that request? Was Zero Balancing really able to help clients in that way? I hadn’t really done it before.

I debated internally whether to accept this frame as the final goal for the session, and finally decided to go ahead with that as the frame, despite my reservations.

I began the session in the typical ZB way evaluating the body sitting and what I found was unremarkable. I certainly had no clue about how to help his doubts.

However, when I went to his feet to do what we call a half moon vector I was astonished. I began to feel or sense energy pockets or energy patterns within the energy field of his overall body/mind that had a signature of doubt. The overall field had patterns like the silvery light of the moon on the sea at night. Within that field were different areas were darker and less clear. It hit me that these were the areas of doubt. They caused me to read “doubt” like you would if you were talking to a person who had doubt – there was an vibration particular to that emotion. As I went through the Zero balancing protocol working with the whole body I felt many such areas.

Having not had that experience before, I wasn’t sure, but I decided to act as if these denser, different areas were in fact where his doubt was residing in his body and in his energy field. When I put “fulcrums” through these areas, or put traction to pull energy through these areas, the quality of the patterns changed. The difference between these areas and other areas of the body lessened. The whole field felt smoother and more congruent and coherent, and more uniformly lit up..

By the time I finished we hadn’t said a word, but I felt his system was much easier, lighter, and more integrated. He came off the table and felt lighter and clearer and over the next days continued to feel clearer and to experience less doubt.

What was most remarkable about the session was not even so much this particular outcome, but the learning I experienced from doing the session. From that day forward I started to pay more and more attention to the quality of the blockages that I found in people’s body. I learned that I could feel the signature of any emotion or any sensation in their bodies. Each emotion and sensation had a particular energetic signature which was unique and which I could learn to read.

If I found a place of held or blocked energy in someone’s body, I began to feel more deeply and more curiously into the vibration. I paid more careful attention without trying to change it. Just to be with it. I would ask myself, or ask their system, “What is the emotion or sensation being held there.” Trying to feel what the emotion was. Fear had a very different vibratory quality than anger or than grief. Initially I started paying attention to the major emotions, (fear, grief, anger, joy) as they were the strongest and clearest, and therefore the easiest to feel. After some time I realized any sensation that a person might be experiencing could be felt through it’s own unique vibration. If someone had indecision; agitation; indifference; guilt; lack of motivation and many others, all of these sensations showed up in their energetic field and could be identified and then worked with by me as the practitioner.

Sometimes this meant just continuing to do the bodywork – but maybe with a different quality to my touch. If someone had fear, I might continue to work in the same places and do very similar treatments but I might do it with a very different quality of touch. I learned that not only could I “read” an emotion in someone through my hands, I could give an emotion with my hands. I might touch with the same quality anyone would use if you were to pick up a small frightened child you wanted to comfort – you would hold them in such a way that they felt safe and secure. So for an adult client with fear I would do the fulcrums with that quality of touch and found that it created much greater positive change in the client. Clients with major fears calmed down, without ever saying anything to them about their fear.

On the other hand, sometimes this opened up a whole new avenue of healing for the person. I might say to them: “I can feel a sensation in your body – I think it is fear. Are you feeling afraid?” One early person I said that to replied, “Only a mountain of it.” This led a huge outpouring of feeling and tears from her. We had a long conversation we’d never had before about her fears and this led to major changes in her for that session but also over time. The possibility of verbally processing emotions discovered through the body/mind connection via touch opened much deeper avenues of healing and change for people and led me to work in very different ways.

And, this was but one of hundreds of such sessions where the person’s experience is palpable in their body and in their field and working with this vibration takes a person way beyond helping their reported symptom to helping them connect to their core selves and grow personally.

So, the request that I help someone with their doubt, led to major revisions in how I worked and how much more I was able to help clients. This continues to be a major way of working – and allows the same Zero Balancing protocol to be performed in many different ways that mirror both the physical and the emotional experience of the client and actually help them progress faster and deeper in their lives.


Learn more at the Touching the Whole Person – An Advanced Zero Balancing workshop with Jim McCormick on Thursday – Sunday, October 30 – November 2. CLICK HERE to register today!

RELAXATION DAY – AUGUST 15!

inhale“Relax” – from the Latin, “to open again”

“Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself.” – Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

It’s interesting that when therapists talk about kinds of massage – sometimes “relaxation massage” is a mode that is spoken of condescendingly. “Oh, he only does relaxation massage.”

But when we look around our world, maybe relaxation is the most important thing. Maybe it is the biggest key to our health, both as individuals and as a society. Around and within us we can see the harsh and sometimes tragic consequences of not relaxing – internal tensions in body and mind, person-to-person violence, social unrest, and war.

Massage therapy is the only health modality whose content is explicitly relaxation. Perhaps this, more than our remedial effect on soft tissue injury, is the key to the growth and the demand for our work.

We live on this miraculous planet. The relaxed contemplation of and reverence for this incredible place should be something cultivated every single day. The appreciation and healthy, calm utilization of the incredible capacities of the human body, mind and spirit should be presented as our most important task.

We cannot move, think or feel in a balanced way without relaxation. This is a wisdom communicated directly to the bodymind through every massage. And if we therapists embody in ourselves the calmness in turn that we evoke in our clients, we become healthier and healthier through our work. That’s wisdom for you!

iStock_000003238803MediumSo let us use Relaxation Day as a way to re-elevate the power of relaxation and its all-encompassing relevance to individuals and ultimately the whole world. It ‘s not just a Day – it’s a way of life, without which we risk the very health of the planet.

In the Bible at the end of each day of creation, it says God contemplated what he had done and saw that it was good. And on the seventh day, it says God blessed that day particularly because on that the day he rested.

Always remember that it is rest that was most honored and most blessed then. And now. Now it is up to us. Massage helps tremendously by amplifying the capacity and the joy in relaxing and contemplating this miraculous world we live in. This is our greatest joy and our evolutionary responsibility as human beings and as practitioners of calmness in activity.

Hooked on Acupressure

by Dr. Gayl Hubatch OMD, LMT instructor

I use acupressure for everything – from my own muscle stiffness after a workout, headache or trouble sleeping to giving hour-long treatments in my professional clinic. When my spouse or daughter has a headache or allergies, they are always asking for my ‘point holding”.  Acupressure relives pain and sinus pressure instantaneously. It’s quite remarkable really.

My daughter’s in her 30’s now and it was her birth that actually led me to Chinese medicine. I had such a profound experience in giving birth and feeling such dynamic life force moving through me that I pursued the question: “What is Chi (Qi)”. It’s been a life long learning as now my practice is 30 years in the making. Time flies.. I must be having fun! Studying Acupressure led me to massage therapy in Eugene, Oregon and then to qigong and Chinese medicine in Santa Fe, NM and then Austin. My acupuncture practice in Lakeway is 20 years old this year!

The purpose of teaching Bodymind acupressure is to share my passion with qi and help others to learn how to access the intricate and powerful web of the meridian system with only their hands and intention. Accurately locating acupressure points is important but more importantly is cultivating intentionality and the use of conscious breath. This upcoming class will give you a real experience of qi and practical techniques to use professionally and personally. You will be hooked!


Learn more about acupressure at the Mindbody Acupressure with Gayl Hubatch on Sunday, October 5. CLICK HERE for more information.

Myofascial Techniques for the Thorax and Diaphragms

by Liz Hoffmaster

Let’s look at the rectus abdominus (RA) muscle and a role it plays in our lives. We are a culture obsessed with core work. In truth, 95% of all abdominal core work is done with severely or mildly bulging abdominals. You have to wonder why one would want to do this? The result is a rectus abdominus that is a half inch thick and the underlying support structures….transverse abdominus (TVA) and our precious rotators, internal and external oblique (IO & EO)…… thin and unable to do what they are supposed to do. This causes many problems, not the least of which is that other muscles can’t do their job!

Number one on the dance card is the diaphragm. RA stops it from full excursion in the torso, primarily in exhalation. Why? Because an overused RA keeps the anterior ribs high, and they can’t fully drop down as you breathe out. This drop naturally allows the diaphragm to fully rise up in the torso. This simple activity promotes parasympathetic activity, and allows the neck and shoulder to relax. How many people do you know who lie on their back and you notice their ribs are stuck up in the air as you work on their neck and shoulders and marvel at how tight they are?

So one of the most important things you will learn is how to quieten the rectus abdominus. In turn your client’s neck and shoulders will thank you.


Learn more at the Myofascial Techniques for the Thorax and Diaphragms workshop with Liz Hoffmaster. CLICK HERE to register today!

MASSAGE – THE ANTIDOTE TO THE ECONOMY?

1800329_627711580600029_806897828_nFor years, I was fascinated with System-Centered Therapy and worked hard in a group. One thing I learned was that many of our fears are not based on reality. Rather, we often make negative predictions about what may happen in the future – a meeting might not go well next week, this new client might not like my work; my business may go down later this year because of the economy. Then we feel fears in the present moment, which are just provoked by fantasies about possible futures.

But we can never really predict the future. We don’t exactly know what will happen tomorrow or even later today! Yet, It’s almost a reflex – nature abhors a vacuum, so we fill in the unknown with predictions – even if they freak us out!

As a teacher and bodyworker, I see students and clients reacting this way over and over. Their self-created fears may get lodged in the trapezius muscle above our shoulders; manifest as a frozen, shocked look around the eyes; a fixed jaw; as hypertension in the back muscles, and certainly as restrictions of breath – with a resulting diminution of energy.

These days, some of the excess tension and fear we see in students and clients are a result of what we are currently being told about the economy. For present and future therapists, it is important for us to understand that at least half of this country’s so-called economic problem is a generalized lack of confidence inflamed by the media’s negative predictions.

We need to unplug ourselves and the people we will touch from the prediction-spasm-prediction cycle that disempowers them.

If you are a bodyworker, you can:

  • Deeply know that success is largely up to you. Re-own your confidence. Share that knowledge with your clients through the confident quality of your touch
  • Help undo negative predictions, by giving the person an experience of deep safety, peace and security in the present moment.
  • Relieve the chronic muscle and respiratory tension that keeps people feeling they are smaller and less powerful than they really are.

If you are a future or current student of massage therapy, you can:

  • Feel great about your decision to be involved in a field that gives a rare form of independence through healthy livelihood.
  • Deeply enjoy the peace you experience by receiving a tremendous amount of touch – perhaps the biggest part of learning is getting two or more massages a week during your training.
  • Devote yourself to learning – massage therapy education, at its best, provides the missing piece from so much of our education. The missing piece is self knowledge of one’s body, emotions, mind and spirit as well as the values-based business planning that enables you literally and figuratively to take your life into your own hands.

For re-assurance we need not to look to the government or to the media; we need to re-access the power within. It’s not up to them.

It’s up to every one of us.

DON’T LIKE HOLISTIC HEALTH?

11.01.MassageI was at a panel discussion last week about public relations with media representatives who cover healthcare. One covered healthcare topics on radio, another on T.V. and another in the newpaper. One topic discussed was their reluctance to cover “holisitic health,” because, they said, it often couldn’t be shown to be evidence-based. I had many reactions.

First, what a tragedy it is that “holistic” has often been become more associated with quackery than with a legitimate and important approaches to healthcare. Mostly, I think, certain “new-age” professionals are to blame for this. Holistic means taking the perspective of the whole person, understanding the individualized approach to take for a person to become fully well, not just, for instance, to being treated for a disease. When I first became involved seriously in “alternative health”, it primarily emphasized diet, exercise, relaxation, and political activism to support healthier lifestyles and a more health-promoting world. Now if you look at most new-agey magazines, they are filled with articles and ads for becoming a life-coach in one weekend (only $595!); various brands of energy healing through crystals, herbs, dubious vitamin formulas, affirmations, astrology, on and on. In other worlds, “holistic” has become, to some extent, a refuge for unproven, wishful thinking, and various other remedies, ranging from innocuous to out-and-out quackery. What a shame!

The true perspective of holism is to view the person, and the world they live in, as a whole. So-called “health-care” (read what some people call “allopathy”) is often not health-care, it is disease-care. Now, to be clear, more power to good disease-care. Many of us, including myself, would not be alive if it weren’t for the incredible diagnostic skills and treatments practiced by modern allopathic medicine.

But holistic healthcare (I still prefer the earlier spelling “wholisitic”) at its best helps the person get from being sick to being normal and also, at its best, helps the person get from being just normal, that is, disease-free, to being optimally well. It is this latter realm that is so important and unique to genuine wholism. That is what health-care at its best is – the individual and social commitment to being truly well – not just un-sick.

Part of becoming truly well, then is not particularly the consumption of alternative or modern pharmaceutical remedies, but an approach to life that is truly fulfilling. This may include competent delivery of services such as health education, counseling, art therapy, exercise coaching for optimally benefit, mindfulness, meditation, acupuncture, various forms of massage therapy, and more. Some of these approaches are evidence-based. It is legitimate to call for evidence when available or appropriate.

Other forms and aspects of healthcare are in some ways as much art as science. A great psychotherapist for instance is someone who is extremely creative in finding ways to illuminate their clients. A great massage therapist will be someone whose touch sensitivities reflect a genuine understanding not only of anatomy but of the individual person and the way touch may resolve individualized tensions of life as manifest in the muscles, joints and nervous system. A wonderful nurse is someone who in her caring and respectful treatment of her patients heals as much through quality of care as through the medical remedy itself. A great health educator will have the ability to connect remarkably with his/her students.

Now it is entirely sensible to insist that science be evidence-based. But in so far as we are dealing with art as well as the science of healthy living and in so far as healthcare is a practiced art and science, calling for all healthcare to be evidence-based is like asking that all art be evidence-based. That is not a reasonable or even sensible criterion. Art is not evidence-based. Humans are not intelligent only via the left-side of the cerebrum. Beethoven’s 9th is a transformational experience. Great works, whether in healthcare or art, are not necessarily reproducible. They don’t yield to research. You don’t need a control group to know that there is an art to living well. And along the path of optimized wellness are revelations and experiences whose timing and content were inherently unpredictable, probably non-reproducible, but life-changing nonetheless.

So let us beware of an overly narrow vision of life and health. The most effective approach to healthcare will take the whole person into account. It will ideally come up with individualized solutions that support the addressing of the cause of the disease, its symptoms, and specific recommendations for not just overcoming disease, but for leading a truly healthy life mentally, emotionally and physically.

At the same time, for holistic professionals, such as myself, it is high time to make distinctions between health approaches that are grounded in research; other traditional approaches which may not be; and other approaches which have been shown by science to be based in falsity, or forms that seem to exploit people’s desire for alternatives by offering solutions that border on or are certainly quackery. People can choose to believe in things that are false or unproven. But the holistic field needs to recognize again the real value of wholeness and not let its credibility be destroyed by what are less effective or blatantly ineffective substitutes for pharmaceuticals.

People, myself included, often like the simplicity of taking a pill. Sometimes it is the very best solution to a heath problem. However, so often the pill doesn’t address the lifestyle that gave rise to complaint. Ultimately healthcare needs to look at life choices that can give rise to the adverse conditions. Ultimately, we need to look at the overall health of our society and support preventative solutions. Many of these are embodied by holistic healthcare at its best. Because holistic doesn’t really refer just to my health or yours. Holistic by definition looks at the whole. Ultimately we all create our environment together. That affects every one of us. A few years ago, a scholar, Samuel S. Epstein, published a book “The Politics of Cancer” in which he showed in so many cases the cure is already known! It is to clean up the carcinogens being using world-wide. “Researchers have estimated that as many as 2 in 3 cases of cancer (67%) are linked to some type of environmental factor” (National Cancer Institute). Now this book, researchers, and their vital conclusions are largely buried with people hoping for after-the-fact responses with pills, chemicals and surgery.

But let us be clear. Holism is simply the correct approach to health.

The cure for so much illness in our world is an appropriate combination of disease-care and health-care applied to both the individuals and to our world. This is the vast importance of holism. We should prevent the social tragedy of holism being on the one hand discounted by the overly narrow-minded as well as co-opted by certain people who promote false solutions to people’s problems.

Holism presents us with an explicit model for a healthy world. This is the vision of a peaceful world in which people are equipped by the educational and healthcare systems to lead optimized lives. Healthy iives are lived with the whole in mind, so we do not see health as an individual property, but as the work of each one of us for our own sake and for the sake of the world we live in. The work of creating this world is viewed as almost utopian, given the many obstacles humanity puts in our own way. But health means whole and if there is anything worth working hard to achieve it is the health of this whole earth and everyone in it.

THOUGHT ACUPRESSURE

10423961_689262441111609_4079496445624755073_nFor years I’ve said deep massage of cranium is “like” working on the brain. Lately I’ve come to realize that, in important ways, it’s not “like” it, for practical purposes, it IS massaging the brain.

When you create an alternative focus other than thought, in the cranial region, almost inevitably thoughts turn down in volume or cease altogether. The mind can’t concentrate on two things at once (in spite of our pretense to “multi-task”).

So, with clear and enjoyable touch in its region, the mind focuses on the touch, pressure and pleasure, not on the thoughts in one’s head. So the cerebral, limbic, diencephalon, and autonomic nervous systems all go, at least temporarily, into an altered state.

Press in so that you’ve taken out the looseness in the cranial tissues. Visualize your touch as contacting the periosteum, not the skin or the hair (for this fulcrum creating the sound of hair on skin is counterproductive). Now traction the fascia semi-circularly. You may notice a restriction in the range of motion of the tissue. Or you may find places that are like cranial trigger points or remnants of past falls as a child that never got addressed. You can press into these and hold while the person lets go of tension from “inside out”.

I like to start at the mastoid process and lateral occiput. Then explore about four areas, each successively anterior around the ear. Then I explore about 6 more places starting near the base of the occiput but near the midline and working my way up to the top of the cranium and finally to where the forehead begins.

Thought acupressure? I like to affirm as I go that indeed the subjective experience of thought quiets or stops altogether. As long as we think the way we’ve usually thought we will re-create our world through that mind-set. Carlos Castaneda talked about the necessity of “stopping the world’ – Stopping the world is, he said “a technique by virtue of which the world as we know it is made to collapse.” I don’t want people’s world to collapse. But I do know that a regular vacation from our usual ways of thinking and feeling is a necessity for growth and learning.

So consider this a technique for stopping the world. When we stop going where we usually go and doing what we usually do, we have the possibility of choosing a new path. Hopefully, it will be one that supports our leading even healthier, happier lives, actualizing who we are through the application of care in touch with the soul, mind, body and heart.

How to Choose a Good Massage Therapist

How to Choose: 5 Characteristics of a Good Massage Therapist

good-massage-therapistDo you hop from massage therapist to massage therapist or feel like you’ve tried them all but can’t settle on one? Maybe there’s a good reason! Finding a massage therapist who is the complete package can be challenging, and depending on what is important to you, may seem near impossible.

Since the benefits of sticking with one massage therapist are so great, consider using these five characteristics when assessing the quality of your massage therapist the next time you find yourself on the table.

Massage Training:

Your massage therapist’s education will be important to you the second their hands come down on you on that massage table, so before you get that far, save yourself the time and money and do some research. These days, it is common to find most of the information you’ll need about your LMT’s background on their website. However, there are still a few tech-stragglers in this industry and also those who consciously choose not to advertise online. If this is the case with the massage therapist you are considering, it is in your interest to call or email them ahead of time to ask for more information about their training. Since it is possible to be injured by your therapist on the massage table, and it is absolutely possible to waste your money on a so-so massage. Don’t risk it!

Professionalism:

Another assessment you can start to make before you climb on the massage table is the level of professionalism of your massage therapist. Does she have a website, and if so, is it well done and comprehensive? If there is no web site, is their correspondence with you professional – is it timely and official? If so, this indicates they recognize they are running a professional business and are interested in earning yours, which usually indicates you will receive good customer service all around. If not, they may not be a dedicated massage therapist or have too much else going on in their business or private life, which could indicate you will be chasing them around for appointments in the future. Save your energy! There are plenty of other massage therapists out there to choose from.

Massage Atmosphere:

Atmosphere is an interesting assessment tool. Is the space easy to find, clean and comfortable? It should be! As a massage therapist who runs a private practice, your therapist is in charge of his or her own space. But even if your massage therapist works for a spa or chain, how the contribute (or detract) from the atmosphere matters, too. When you meet your massage therapist for the first time, are they calming and welcoming or frazzled and rushed? Do you feel like they are in charge and comfortable in their surroundings or just ready to get through the massage? Even if you don’t invest much belief in energetic bodywork, a massage therapist who is late to a session or uncomfortable in their surroundings can sure churn up some air. If this happens, take your time getting undressed and on the table to allow the massage therapist some time to settle down – massage therapists are people, too, and sometimes things happen. If the atmosphere doesn’t improve when your LMT returns, you may have a problem going forward. Your massage therapist should not only be able to control the atmosphere both physically and energetically but also recognize if they are contributing to the potential dysfunction. Skip the turbulence!

Mindfulness:

Your potential massage therapist’s mindfulness may show up in their professionalism and even more so in how the affect their atmosphere, but certainly when they begin talking with you about your session and then lay their hands on you, you should be able to tell if they are being thoughtful about what they are offering you. Do their hands come off you frequently only to reengage somewhere you weren’t anticipating? Did they address the areas and concerns you asked them to? Was anything about the session rushed – do you feel rushed even just lying there on the table? Whether your LMT’s strokes feel jumpy or if you catch yourself feeling jumpy, this is usually an indicator your massage therapist is not truly “plugged in” to what he or she is doing and how your body is responding to their work. Mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools a massage therapist has in this line of work.

If the whole session feels “off,” unplug! Look for a massage therapist who can stay connected to what is going on in front of them. The quality of work from a “plugged in” massage therapist is worth it.

Consistency:

In some ways, consistency is the most telling characteristic of a good massage therapist. A massage therapist who is continually well-trained, always professional, who has your room ready and makes you feel comfortable and who regularly mindful of their work and your body’s response to it is a good massage therapist. Yes, every massage therapist runs late once, has an “off day” or a massage session that doesn’t quite turn out how they’d like it to, but if you are considering each of these five characteristics when assessing them, you’ll be able to tell if your massage therapist is dealing with a chronic issue or a one-off disaster.

Good luck on your good massage therapist hunt! Remember, if you find a good one, sick with them! Seeing the same massage therapist regularly has huge benefits , and that, in and of itself, will lead to a more satisfying massage experience for you all around.


Start your new career as a massage therapist today! CLICK HERE to see upcoming class schedules.

Want a great massage? CLICK HERE to request an appointment at the Student Clinic!

What’s Better Self-Employment or Massage Jobs

What’s Better? Self-Employment vs. Getting a Massage Job

A massage job, often massage jobs, or self-employment, I’ve done them both. But what’s better? Obviously, the answer depends completely on you – your needs and goals, your dreams – but I’d like to share my experience with you in an effort to shed some light on this debate. As someone who has a private practice, you may be surprised with what I have to say.

experience (1)Self-Employment: It’s Why Most of Us are Doing This

If we’re honest, most of us are in this industry to have control over our finances or time – and if you’re more altruistic than I am, even over the value of the services we provide – or all three! And self-employment with a private massage practice is key to meeting that need for control.

I went to massage school to work for myself. With young children, I needed to maximize my income and work as little as possible. Though I loved massage and moving and serving others, love for the work as a provider came later. I incentivized my internship clients to follow me into the real world, graduated from massage and started the rough road to earning money for myself.

Though it is a rough road, seven years later, I now have just the number of clients I want, make an income that serves me and have control over my finances, time and quality of the services and work I offer. It is very rewarding, and I can’t imagine going back to my “old life.”

Currently, I do not have any massage jobs. Self-employment is working really well for me. But this hasn’t always been the case, and I know this won’t always be true, either.

I’ll tell you why…

One Reason Every LMT Should Get a Massage Job

I believe every new and experienced massage therapist, both, need a massage job at least once, if not repeatedly, throughout their massage career.

You don’t know it all.

Five years after becoming a licensed massage therapist, I took a part-time position at local Massage Heights, providing therapeutic touch 20 hours per week to, usually, 20 different bodies with different needs. I went through internship in massage school just like the rest of you, and thought I was well-prepared for this industry. Until then.

After I graduated from massage school, I launched right into a private massage practice. That was the whole reason I went to massage school – I wanted to work for myself when I wanted to work. And I did. I provided your basic massage session to anyone who came looking for one while I worked a “day job.” But because I was just starting out, my clients were few in number and frequency, and as a result, the experience I had been building on during my internship stalled-out in the real world.

The lesson I learned? When it comes to being a competent massage therapist, running a private massage practice, which includes marketing, billing and scheduling, does not compare to just doing massage over and over and every day.
You can memorize human anatomy and physiology – it is finite. Eventually, though daunting for most of us, we can learn it all! But without hands-on experience, without first-hand knowledge of how a body responds to therapeutic touch, you haven’t learned how to be a massage therapist. Not really.

Massage chains can support your learning and gaining of experience to you better than any other employer – including you. Finding clients, bodies for you to work on, is what they do best. And there are always massage jobs with a massage chain.

In the end, remember massage is called a practice. After the classes and the internship hours are over, and when your state-issued massage license is in-hand, there is still a long road ahead. Use the tools available in this industry to get your hands on as many bodies as possible. And while you’re at it, build that private practice you started out to create. You’ll never be done learning, so there’s no reason not to start now!


Start your new career as a Massage Therapist today! CLICK HERE to see our upcoming class schedules!