Skip to main content

Massage is for EveryBody Awards 2021

$1,000 Winners Exemplify the Campaign’s Guiding Principles

Below are the 2021 Massage is for EveryBody award winners. View the current winners.

ABMP received a number of passionate essays, explaining the many ways in which practitioners work tirelessly to support the guiding principles behind Massage is for EveryBody. We at ABMP are deeply grateful to you all for your healing, inclusive work. You make the world a better place. Congratulations to the following winners (essays below) whose work exemplifies the healing and inclusive values of the campaign:

Guiding Principles

Because Massage is for EveryBody, we will:

  1. Serve as advocates for the powerful physical and emotional benefits of massage and bodywork.
  2. Support and advocate for efforts that bring massage and bodywork to underserved populations.
  3. Spread awareness of career options in the massage and bodywork profession.
  4. Honor the healing role practitioners play in our communities.
  5. Emphasize the importance of self-care, including receiving regular bodywork, for massage therapists and bodyworkers, and their clients.

Portrait of Rivkah BacharachBy Rivkah Bacharach
Business Facebook page:
Instagram handle: @Luminousartsmassage

I have been working in massage for many years now. I have worked in medical, spa and most recently in a large corporate environment. This year after covid was barely allowing us to peek our faces out from behind our masks, our community was struck with the terror of a mass shooting. Ten beloved community members were killed. What has come after is a gathering of support and love for those that were directly and indirectly affected. When an event like this happens, the ripples of pain spread out in the community and all hearts are broken. We are all impacted because we are all connected. The community created the Boulder Strong Resource Center to offer complimentary resources for our city. The first location was near the incident, tucked in a building nearby. I was walking along our memorial, placing an intentional stone among the flowers, pictures, and prayers when I discovered the center. I began to volunteer weekly and offer healing bodywork.

I am not sure I can adequately describe the deep reverence I have for doing this work. So many stories of heartbreak, trauma, and pain. The amazing gift of watching humans in true need, soak up the gifts of massage and having transformational experiences. Massage therapy offers clients the ability to resource the deepest wisdom of the body. I feel so honored to be able to offer this therapeutic tool in this time of need. What is surprising is how this work has brought such deep joy to my life. To be of service to those that are under-resourced and underrepresented in our client roster is what I believe is the highest level of what our profession can achieve. Health should not be a luxury.

I have been moved to tears, inspired, and healed by the stories of pain and resilience. I am currently working at the permanent location as a massage therapist on staff. I am doing work that I am deeply proud of, seeing the effects of skills that I have been acquiring all these years. I am so thankful to be able to offer massage to this population, and it feels like the culmination of the path that I chose many years ago. There is so much that only we can offer as massage therapists. Safe touch and boundaries, deep nurturing, and a nonjudgmental, compassionate ear. In an uncertain, touch starved world we are invaluable, and I feel the deep gratitude for the work that we as massage therapists offer. Our touch ripples out in positivity farther then we could ever imagine. Bringing light to the seeds of change and healing in our world.

Portrait of Peter CaoBy Peter Cao

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Gandhi’s words resonate through the walls of Inner City Health (ICH), an outpatient facility dedicated to minimizing the inequity of healthcare access and delivery in underserved populations of Denver, Colorado. We serve all patients, regardless of ability to pay, with compassion and high-quality care. Working as a massage therapist in this environment has allowed me to become an advocate for bodywork and its benefits for the underserved populations of the Mile High City.

People posing for group photo

I began volunteering as a massage therapist intern at ICH while in massage school last fall. The faculty and community in which ICH serves inspired me so much that after obtaining licensure, I began this year volunteering at the facility every Tuesday for eight months straight without missing a single day. My patient caseload would include individuals who are uninsured and those that have Medicaid/Medicare, majority of whom were Hispanic. As the cobwebs of the language cortex of my brain were dusted off, my Spanish-speaking abilities grew as did my ability to efficiently assess and treat patients. Soon I was able to see recurring patients, people who would normally never receive bodywork. My goal in addressing the root cause of their ailments would involve self-care exercises and providing newfound awareness of muscle recruitment patterns and postures. Our healing role as practitioners is the most gratifying when one is able to help those most in need.

The memories and friendships made at ICH will not be forgotten. I will always remember trying to inspire nursing students to take continuing education courses in manual therapy, spending cancellation appointment times in treating fellow faculty members, and becoming friends with my patients and their families while trying to improve their overall health through bodywork.

Portrait of Rachelle CaronBy Rachelle Caron
Instagram handle: @divine_touch_bodywork

Massage is for everyone, yet not everyone seems to think this yet. I started Divine Touch to help women and children empower themselves through healing touch and bodywork. My goal starting my business was to teach them the tools they need to blossom. While attending massage school I nannied for a young girl experiencing many challenges physically, cognitively, and developmentally. Massaging her helped to ease her pain, which enabled better sleep and digestion, reduced her muscle dystrophy, and lowered her seizure activity. This was incredibly eye opening for me and I knew then, it was my calling. 

Woman holding child

After graduation I received my Advanced Certification in Pediatric Massage from The LiddleKidz Foundation and continued to educate myself in Trauma Touch Therapy. Today I work with children diagnosed with sensory disorders. My focus is to help them connect with their bodies and surroundings and give them the tools they need to help self-regulate, which will allow them to thrive. I also spend time volunteering at a local residential community where youth and adults with disabilities can work, learn and live as part of a thriving ‘ohana (family). It’s a heartwarming space that allows me to share and educate not only clients, but caregivers, and all members of the community the benefits massage has for individuals with disabilities. I found myself spending much of my time supporting and advocating massage and bodywork and its benefits for these underserved populations, due to lack of knowledge where I live. By working with these populations, I also spread awareness of career options in the massage and bodywork profession. I am showing another type of therapy that has ample benefits, and collaborates well with other therapies usually used for children and individuals diagnosed with a disability, such as OT or PT.

Portrait of Nataly Del CidBy Nataly Del Cid
Instagram handle: @enndc

Growing up in a low-income Latinx community in southeast Los Angeles, I have experienced and observed how intergenerational poverty can perpetuate violence and trauma, ultimately detrimental to individual and collective integrative health. I see the ways my community members’ bodies hold trauma and, unknowing how to cope with this trauma, they perpetuate more violence and trauma through self-harm, substance use, domestic violence, and more. They put up with physically laborious minimum-wage jobs in order to keep a roof over their head. These circumstances force them to become out of touch with their bodies in order to avoid feeling their mental, emotional, and physical pain. They do not have access to mental health practitioners that can help them process their trauma with holistic healing tools. Constantly on fight-or-flight mode, they become conditioned to believe that touch leads to harm, not a form of love or luxurious self-care. So much trauma can become entrapped in our bodies, and I believe that massage therapy can be a tool used to help these community members find their way back into their bodies and regain their autonomy.

Four people sitting on a benchI aspire to become a trauma-informed massage therapist who specializes in providing services to marginalized community members that are often overworked and unserved in the healthcare field. I want to make massage therapy more accessible to low-income community members and teach them how to preserve and treat the bodies when they do not have access to conventional western healthcare. Exposing massage therapy to these community members can help them learn more about autonomy of their body, consent, and empathy through safe and caring touch. I want to begin this work by volunteering for non-profits that provide holistic healing services to underserved and unhoused community members in the East Bay, California.

I will be starting a Master’s in social welfare at UC Berkeley this August and will be pursuing a license in clinical social work. My goal is to be able to combine my license in clinical social work and massage therapy certification, to integrate talk therapy with bodywork therapy and provide a holistic approach to healing for low-income, marginalized community members. As a mental health and bodywork practitioner, I want to advocate for increasing more holistic healing tools these community members can utilize to overcome their trauma and generate intergenerational healing.

By Sophia Denison-Johnston
Instagram handle: sophiasadj

As a female collegiate athlete, I was expected to have a peak performance every day. My team trained 20+ hours a week, with no off season, in addition to our full class schedule, leaving little time for sleep, let alone maintaining relationships and self-care. Due to the amount of stress we went through and the need to perform, we numbed ourselves to our needs. We starved ourselves of interpersonal relationships and let our nervous systems run haywire in an effort to keep us constantly moving. More training was always better. Only certain foods were worth eating. Every decision, even outside of practice, was routed back to how it would affect our performance. The few times we did let loose, we might go to a party, numbing our exhaustion and perfectionism, only to be taken advantage of once our guard was down. Many of us female athletes have similar stories of detachment from our bodies. 

Portrait of Sophia Denison-Johnston
Woman doing pull up
Black and white photo of a woman standing in front of a wall

When I found massage, it was my relief. The touch of a massage therapist listens to your body. It doesn’t expect anything from you. It doesn’t demand anything from you. It invites you to feel, to accept, to heal. For many athletes, we have been coached to shut down feeling in our bodies. For many women, we have been trained to accept that our body is not entirely our own. I hope that with my practice, I can cultivate an environment for women like me to feel nurtured and safe in our own bodies. I hope that I can support these women to re-write their story of felt sensation.

By Deckllan Hartte

I am Transgender, Two Spirit Trans Man, assigned female at birth. A practicing LMT with my own business. I specialize working with my Transgender community. A community that has a hard time finding safe and supportive bodywork. I am passionate to create a compassionate and safe space by asking and using personal pronouns, acknowledging gender fluidity, honoring their Gender Dysphoria and using specialized techniques for assisted healing of their Gender Confirming Surgery.

Portrait of Deckllan Hartte
The Progress LGBTQ+ Flag
Transgender man posing with duck tape over mouth and "No H8" (No Hate) written on their hands

After having Gender Confirming Surgery to help with my Gender Dysphoria last year, I saw an LMT for scar tissue therapy. Knowing this practitioner understood my dysphoria made it safe for me to receive their help and support. It enabled me to heal and get back to my passion of helping others. No-charge packages and a sliding scale are always granted for this underserved community—I turn no one away. This can create a financial strain at times, but I am grateful as many in my community find it hard to even attain employment based on being Transgender.

Thank you for holding such awesome Guiding Principles and striving to bring conscious awareness.

Portrait of Alyse Kribs, with a while on their backBy Alyse Kribs

I am writing this entry for myself but mostly for a community of people that are largely overlooked and shamed by our society. Being a part of this community and finding a way out, is why I became a massage therapist. I have been in recovery from mental illnesses and addiction for five years. It’s been a difficult road but now that I have overcome it, I can overcome anything. While I was in school for massage my fiancé died in an accident related to his addiction. Being a mom, being in school, and going to therapy were all reasons to keep holding on. Now that I know a way out, I am dedicated to sharing with others.

I volunteer at women’s halfway houses to share the healing touch of massage and share my story. Most of the women I talk to have neglected their bodies for years. Their unresolved chronic pain may have been the beginning of their addiction. Doctors prescribe pills instead of holistic therapy like massage. When the prescriptions run out, they turn to illegal drugs. The women are shocked that I won’t accept payment. They can’t believe anyone would be that kind to them. Most of them experienced intense trauma before and during their active addictions. Love and kindness have not existed in their world for a long time. I love being able to remind them what it feels like.

My dad, my son’s dad, and countless friends have lost their lives to addiction. I do this for them, to prevent people from self-medicating and to help ones who already fell. I love my job and advocate for the benefits of it all the time! My words and hands don’t reach everybody, but they reach a few, and that makes it all worth it.

Portrait of Carrie Kopp AdamsBy Carrie Kopp Adams
Instagram handle: massagebycarrie
Business Facebook page:

My name is Carrie Kopp Adams, and I am a military spouse, massage therapist, yoga instructor, & energy healer. I started my massage practice while stationed with my husband on Camp Pendleton and have been serving as an advocate for the powerful physical and emotional benefits of massage ever since.

Woman massaging a patient's footFor the past five years, I've worked with Wounded Warriors, DOD staff, and military service members and their families. I've seen firsthand the transformative power of massage in each community—whether it was helping clients recover from injury or illness, supporting them through pregnancy, or providing an outlet to release the stresses of military life. Together, we redefined self-care for the USMC community, and through them, I realized the great honor of a healer is to show others how to sustain wellness and become healers themselves.

Should I be selected for this award, I would like use part of it to give back to the community that built and still supports my practice, from duty station to duty station, here in the US. Through the Fort Meade Military Spouse Club, I'd like to provide ten-minute chair massages for all attendees of a Military Appreciation event here in Fort Meade, MD, where we are currently stationed.

For more information on my story & practice, you can access some articles & photos about me here:

Portrait of Remy OlsonBy Remy Olson

Before I graduated from massage school I envisioned working at a spa. My vision included getting in many “reps” of my Swedish massage routine on many body types and building my private practice with the more “obscure” traditional Chinese healing modalities. The adage, “When we make plans, God laughs,” comes to me, as I reflect on the time since those visions first percolated.

Just before graduation, my mother-in-law had a heart attack. Kidney failure and congestive heart failure followed. Due to healthcare costs, she would require our direct financial and physical support. In the name of love, we packed up to move across the country after I graduated.

Amidst oxygen machines running 24/7, household care, staging her home to sell, and moving, I navigated self-care and the dual relationships to serve my family ethically, all while completing the MBLEx and state licensure requirements. 

This was far from a spa environment, and my main clients were my family. Many of the modalities I had learned were contraindicated to use. Lo and behold, I would need to rely on Reiki, acupressure, and Shiatsu with many adjustments and alternate positioning.

I was never more thankful for daily qigong at massage school for its focus upon equal unconditional acceptance. I put more mileage on the many tools for self-care and subtler arts of relationship than I had ever expected so soon after graduating.

It was clear that this was a demonstration of the power of self-care foundations, of my technical knowledge, and of my belief in bodywork itself.

As the time approaches that my original post-graduate plan comes into place, I will continue to advocate for life-saving preventative care and to serve the underserved from a place of knowing even more deeply the personal practices that support this privilege to serve.

Portrait of Noriko SmithBy Noriko Smith
Instagram handle: @Norisakura

Hi, my name is Noriko. I have been a massage therapist for 17 years. I work as an oncology massage therapist, and I belong to a nonprofit organization called The Heart Touch Project in Santa Monica, CA. Learning how we can apply gentle and compassionate touch to end of life, medically fragile adult and pediatric populations changed my life. I started volunteering as a touch therapist with hospice patients at VITAS hospice and pediatric units at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA seven years ago. That's where I really learned how powerful touch is, and also realized this was my calling.

The Heart Touch Project provides a free oncology clinic at USC+LAC (Los Angeles County Hospital), the wellness center for low-income populations who can't afford therapeutic touch during their difficult time. Most of them are Spanish speakers, and we have interpreters for the intake.

I learned that even when we can't communicate with the language, we can communicate through the touch. We laugh and cry together. Our work is not just to touch their physical bodies—we are also touching their emotional, spiritual parts. When it comes to oncology massage, it is important to have knowledge, but also being present FULLY with the person in front of you and listen deeply, giving full attention for them, is as important as the skills.

I am forever grateful to be able to serve others through touch. Every time I touch patients, I feel they heal me as well. The work is always reciprocal. This work fills my heart and gives me the purpose of why I am here at this time.