BENEFITS OF BEING A MASSAGE THERAPIST
By Cindy Williams
From the first moment I stepped foot in a massage school, to this moment over 23 years later, I have progressively fallen more and more in love with being a massage therapist. Taking inspiration from a recent ABMP Facebook thread on the subject, I put together a list of my top eight things I love about being a massage therapist!
No. 1: I Love Being Part of a Supportive Community of Caregivers
Being part of a community of massage professionals who are supportive of each other (at least, in my experience) and who share a common goal of genuinely wanting to help and care for others is top on my list.
My initial desire to become a massage therapist was based on wanting to bring the powerful feeling of relief to others. I had experienced the magnitude of massage’s benefits firsthand from the initial (and, as it turns out, highly significant) massage I received in my early 20s. Because I had been suffering from chronic headaches, my mom gifted me with my first session. I walked in with a headache and walked out with no headache. And then I sat in my car and sobbed my eyes out! The release that occurred simply from being under the care of skilled and loving hands was deeply impactful. This brings me to . . .
No. 2: I Love Witnessing the Benefits of the Work I Do
Massage therapy makes people feel good and enhances their quality of life. Sometimes, it goes as far as transforming some aspect of the client’s life experience. I get to feel tissues melt under my hands. I get to see the color of blood flow returning to a client’s face and skin. I get to hold space for tears and laughter. I get to observe the effects of consistent attention to body areas in need of healing. I get to celebrate clients’ progress. What this ultimately means is I have a skill that contributes to making the world a better place.
No. 3: I Love Creating Safe Space for Others
Another part of making the world a better place is holding space for others. I love creating a safe space for clients to feel deeply listened to and cared for. I give clients my full attention and presence in each and every session. I take notes on what they tell me so I can refer and recall later, making that client feel significant. Often, clients want to tell me about what stresses them (because it does affect their body). Without offering any advice, I simply listen and reflect. This alone can facilitate healing on every level: body, mind, and spirit. Plus, it builds trust and connection.
No. 4: I Love Communicating with the Nervous System
Amazingly enough, the nervous system always responds. The more I study the nervous system and become keen on its signals, the better I’m able to read its activity, respond, and also become an intentional stimulus. Since it is the master of all things, well, it makes sense to have a chat and get to know it. Trust me, it’s a fascinating relationship to be in!
No. 5: I Love Being Present for “A-Ha” Moments
I love identifying patterns and illuminating them to the client. Nine times out of 10, it results in an “a-ha” moment when I identify a pattern and explain what types of activities might contribute to the pattern. Clients often say, “Oh my, I know what I’m doing that’s making this happen” (or making an existing pattern worse). The more I understand how the entire body and its systems are interwoven and continuously interacting, the more I see patterns. This enables me to effectively determine possible solutions.
No. 6: I Love Having Clients Who Leave Happy
In all these years, I have yet to receive a complaint from an unhappy client. There are never fires to put out or emergencies to manage. Occasionally I get an SOS message from a client asking something like, “What do I do about this stiff neck I just woke up with?” But that’s as hard as my “customer satisfaction management” ever gets. As long as I keep my business organized and my communication skills at a high level (and, of course, give a great massage), everyone remains happy.
No. 7: I Love That Learning About the Body Never Ends
Every body is different, so my approach is always different. My sequence is always different. The massage techniques I use vary. And, if nothing I try works, I watch some continuing education videos online, refer to one of the many bodywork education resources in my library, ask a colleague, and review new field research that might shed some light on the situation.
I never tire of refreshing my knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and energetic anatomy. There is always something I forget (because there is so much to know!) It seems the right information tends to reveal itself at just the right time for me to use it in service of a client.
Add to that, staying on top of my “study game” keeps me attentive to what is happening in my own body. I find that clients love a practitioner who actually lives what they espouse. They are much more likely to heed your advice. The best way to be a health leader is to keep learning and experimenting with new information in the leadership of your own life. I never stop learning and growing! This leads me to my final reason why I love being a massage therapist . . .
No. 8: I Love That Being a Massage Therapist Makes Me a Better Person
Getting to show up and care about people every day keeps me humble. Having to leave my own life stresses at the door so I can be fully present for another keeps me grounded. It also shifts my perspective. When I work with clients who are in chronic pain or dis-ease, I find myself being more grateful for my own health. Presence, compassion, and empathy make people better people.
Support, care, life-enhancing benefits, presence, connection, understanding, healing, happiness, learning, growing, grounding, and gratitude . . . what’s not to love about being a massage therapist?
Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. In addition to maintaining a part-time massage and bodywork practice and teaching yoga, she is a freelance content writer and educational consultant. Contact her at email@example.com.
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