Jeff Bartels

Using the gift of massage to explore a life of compassion

By Brandon Twyford
[ABMP Member Profile]

Jeff Bartels felt the healing power of massage with his own hands before he ever received a day of formal massage training. In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, in the mid-1970s, he was working as a child psychiatric aide when the nurses at the center returned from a conference on alternative methods of treatment for hyperactivity in children. One of the techniques they brought back was gentle shoulder massage. “We gave the kids shoulder massages just before dinner and it worked great,” Bartels says. Though it would be several years before he would consider massage as a career path, he says, “I was still curious about it when I moved to Colorado in 1981.”
In 1986, another nurse friend taught him some basic soft-tissue manipulation to help her with a knee injury. “She told me I had gifted hands and should get myself to school to learn how to use them.” He enrolled in the Colorado School of Healing Arts and graduated in December 1988.
Since becoming a licensed therapist, Bartels has maintained a successful mobile practice strictly through word-of-mouth advertising (he doesn’t use social media and has no website), working for law firms, tech and energy companies, government agencies, and more. His 10 years as a child psychiatric aide instilled in him a great desire to help people, and he says, “Massage fits in nicely with my curiosity about whether I could explore a life of compassion for others and still ‘do well.’ So far, it’s still working.”
Regarding career longevity, Bartels says it’s crucial to keep in shape through exercise and proper body mechanics. “Secondly, trust your intuition. It was put there for a reason.”
Bartels says the most rewarding part of being a massage therapist is the thanks he gets from the partners of clients he’s helped with his trigger-point therapy work. “Those are the kinds of rewards that will be with me forever.”