Nataly Del Cid: Blending Behavioral Health and Bodywork to Support Underserved Populations

Nataly Del Cid, massage therapist and one of the winners of ABMP’s Massage is for EveryBody essay contest.

By Lisa Bakewell

Nataly Del Cid was one of the winners of ABMP’s Massage is for EveryBody 2021 contest, and we wanted to share more of her story. Please join us in celebrating Nataly!

Massage therapy can be a great tool for enhancing body awareness, especially for clients with a history of trauma and body dissociation, says Nataly Del Cid, San Francisco massage therapist, social worker, and clinical social work student at UC Berkeley. “By integrating behavioral health therapy and bodywork therapy, I hope to provide services that can facilitate holistic healing addressing the mind, body, and spirit.”

Del Cid also believes massage therapy can help clients return to—and gain a sense of autonomy over—their bodies by teaching them relaxation techniques to help decrease body tension when stressed or overwhelmed. “Physical and mental health are two systems that are interconnected and ultimately affect one another—for good or for bad,” she shares. “When someone constantly experiences illness or physical pain, it can produce anxiety or affect their mood. Or when someone is constantly in distress, it can create tension in the body and the spirit. As a massage therapist and clinical social worker, I not only want to help people release the issues in their tissues, but also in their mind and heart.”

By integrating mental health services and bodywork therapy, Del Cid strives to make massage therapy more accessible to low-income Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) by providing massage therapy sessions using a sliding scale fee structure. “Massage therapy is not a luxury,” she says. “Everyone should have access to a caring and healing touch.”

Del Cid plans to teach clients the necessary tools, such as stretching, foam rolling, and performing self-massage, for relieving their own tension. “Many of these people find different channels of self-relief that at times can be harming, such as overconsumption of drugs,” she says, “so I believe that introducing massage therapy to clients who have this history of trauma can be an important part of their healing journey.”

By creating a “safe and collaborative therapeutic space for clients to return safely to their body with gentle and caring touch,” Del Cid hopes to encourage clients to advocate for their own health and prioritize their own healing. “Many low-income BIPOC experience different forms of abuse, exploitation from work, and overall systemic oppression in this country,” she says, which causes them to “retreat to dissociating from their body in order to avoid feeling the physical and emotional pain that comes from these experiences. Understanding that touch can be triggering for many, as a trauma-informed massage therapist, I would like to create a therapeutic space to introduce touch to clients as safe, loving, and regenerating for the nervous system.”

Del Cid hopes to start her own grassroots organization that will be rooted in social and healing justice, providing social services, mental health services, and bodywork therapy. “As a social worker, I have experience in providing case management services and connecting community members to resources that address their basic needs and desire for socioeconomic mobility. I also have experience in providing trauma-informed massage therapy and mental health services to community members in the East Bay. My goal is that low-income BIPOC community members have access to resources to meet their basic needs in order to feel safe and comfortable in starting their holistic healing journey and having the appropriate tools to make that journey tangible.”

Del Cid also plans to volunteer as a healing practitioner at the Freedom Community Clinic (FCC) during its pop-up healing clinics, where she will provide massage therapy services for free to underserved BIPOC. “FCC is a grassroots organization whose mission is to bring whole-person healing to BIPOC in the community, integrating ancestral, Indigenous, and holistic healing practices, such as massage therapy, reiki, acupuncture, breath work, herbal medicine, and more. As a practitioner volunteering with this organization, I will be able to serve my community with massage therapy services.”

Related content:

• Massage is for EveryBody is ABMP’s annual celebration of massage therapy and the philanthropic efforts of our members. Read more about the event, and the guiding principles that drive it, here: www.abmp.com/updates/blog-posts/massage-everybody-evolution-movement, and enter for your chance to win this year: www.abmp.com/massage-is-for-everybody-awards.

• To read the winning essays from 2021’s Massage is for EveryBody celebration, go to www.abmp.com/massage-week-awards.

• View the 2021 Massage is for EveryBody Week award winners' panel presentation shown during the 2021 ABMP CE Summit here.

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