Rivkah Bacharach, Respect + Boundaries = Strength: Massage is for EveryBody

Massage therapist and ABMP essay award winner Rivkah Bacharach.

By Lisa Bakewell

Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” is “deeply valuable” to Boulder, Colorado, massage therapist Rivkah Bacharach. And she feels it should be to other massage therapists as well. “It reminds us that massage therapy still fights for its right to be respected as a health modality equal to others,” she says.

Bacharach knows of what she speaks. As an MT for over 15 years, Bacharach has worked in a variety of environments and struggles to choose a favorite. “Thinking about what areas I have enjoyed working in,” she says, “leads my thoughts to this: Having consistent work as a massage therapist—where you are valued and paid what you are worth—is a problem in our industry and leads to a lot of burnout.” Having strong boundaries around one’s physical limits and self-value is crucial, according to Bacharach, no matter which modality one chooses to work in.

Bacharach currently practices trauma-informed massage, prioritizing communication between the MT and the client, which she considers the “Goldilocks approach to bodywork.” Like Goldilocks, “You want to know if something is too hot, too cold, or just right,” she explains. “I talk with the client at the beginning of the session and throughout the session, and truly welcome feedback. Working with trauma is like cheffing in a kitchen; you have to be completely present to the work you are doing, or it is unsafe.”

According to Bacharach, a foundation for trauma-informed massage is presence, permission, and peace. “Because a client is coming in dysregulated, you have to track them throughout the whole session,” she says.

“The goal of a trauma-informed massage session is one moment of peace. One moment of a calming breath, one moment of feeling grounded, remembering what it feels like in the body to feel OK. It is about starting small and building safety. Honoring where people are in their emotional and physical state. This creates a connection that leads to healing and transformation. We are in crisis in America, in our health-care system, specifically our mental health care, [which is] a combination of lack of access to treatment and how our health-care system functions as a whole.

“Providing trauma-informed bodywork, at no cost to the community, is a miracle out of a tragedy. The ability for people to receive nurturing touch [and] a compassionate ear, on a weekly basis, is healing for the clients. I believe it shows the transformative nature of connection and compassion for everyone regardless of background and . . . story. This is a model of health care that privileges preventive treatment for physical and mental health, utilizing modalities that have been considered ‘alternative’ but should really be considered preventive medicine. Utilizing this model of health care—which has been out of financial reach for most—alongside Western medicine would change our communities and country. We teach by example, by our behavior and being.”

Bacharach says boundaries is her word for this new year. “More often, the answer to the problem is boundaries. Boundaries enable us to create a healthy distinction between ‘self and other,’ to have equilibrium and health in relationships. In each of our micro-communities, we are creating an environment and small society. Behavior many times is a question of, ‘Is this OK here?’ and the answer is whatever boundaries are appropriate for you.

“As massage therapists we touch people, which is a vulnerable act. This is most often the only place [outside] of an intimate relationship that people are touched, [which] can lead to a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around appropriate touch.

“I don’t think sexuality needs to be shamed, but boundaries are crucial. We have to practice using our words and saying what we need as therapists. This creates a safe container for [us] and our clients to know what is appropriate.”

Bacharach intends to continue working at the Boulder Strong Resource Center (#WEAREBOULDERSTRONG) to create educational tools to help other massage therapists understand and work with trauma. “On the horizon,” she says, “I would love to create a nonprofit healing retreat center where time could be taken for people to really focus on self-transformation. We each have unique gifts to offer the world—many times because of what we have endured. Each of our stories of healing are revolutions affecting change, waiting to be heard.”

***

• 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

• 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.

Category: 

Trustpilot Reviews

News

Iowa Adopts New Massage Therapy Rules

The Iowa Board of Massage Therapy adopted new massage therapy rules that impact the following sections: definitions, licensure by examination, qualifications for foreign applicants, and license display requirements. The new rules will be effective August 17, 2022.

Colorado Bill Gives Counties Authority to Adopt Establishment Licensing

House Bill 22-1300 allows counties, cities, and towns in Colorado to adopt local ordinances. The intent is to prevent human trafficking-related offenses to occur in illicit businesses that represent themselves as massage establishments. The bill takes effect August 10, 2022.

Blog

Antivirus Software Can Help Protect You and Your Clients

Antivirus Software Shields Practitioners and Clients.

To help ABMP members stay safe in the digital world, we are running a short blog series on cybersecurity and how you can protect your personal information and your computer and digital devices from today’s bad actors. Here is the second installment on social engineering scams.

Benefits

ABMP Recognized for Top Publications

The 42nd Annual EXCEL Awards were celebrated on June 22, 2022. SIIA’s EXCEL Awards is the largest and most prestigious program recognizing excellence and leadership in association media, publishing, marketing, and communication.

ABMP was recognized for some of our top publications and educational offerings:

Read the May / June 2022 Issue of Massage & Bodywork Magazine

The May/June 2022 issue of ABMP's Massage & Bodywork magazine is available at www.massageandbodyworkdigital.com. ABMP members get a print subscription as part of membership, and the digital edition is available online and free to the profession.

In this issue, we explore pelvic tilt and spinal compensation, improving bodywork through breath, and how listening to your clients is a superpower. We also discuss SI joint dysfunction, overuse injuries, and much more!⁠

Cupping Canada Inc. and Mobile Massage Mastery GIVEAWAY: Value over $2,022!

Cupping Canada Inc. and Mobile Massage Mastery GIVEAWAY—value over $2,022!

3 lucky participants will win shared prizes:

• 16 CE live online Evidence Informed Clinical Cupping course from Cupping Canada & Cupping USA (NCBTMB approved & Canadian approvals) - valued at $405 CAD

• Online course starter kit, tie dye silicone drinking glass & silicone straw kit from Cupping Canada and Cupping USA - valued at $120 CAD

Please note: We have recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Learn more...