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Massage Today
October, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 10

Massage in Times of Crisis

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

One of our nation's three major massage therapy professional associations has designated October 21 - 27, 2001 as National Massage Therapy Awareness Week. I'm really pleased that this is one of its ongoing annual programs, as it helps all of us, whether we are association-affiliated or not.

This is one project on which I'd really like to see all of the associations collaborate. Obtaining gubernatorial and mayoral proclamations, submitting press releases to national, state and local press publications, radio and TV stations, and performing outreach to shopping malls, industry, government, education and health care facilities provide tangible increases in awareness of the importance of massage therapy to consumers and potential employers. This directly relates to a better lifestyle for all of us.

As I write this column, the news is telling of the tragedy our nation is enduring, putting us in a state of war. By the time you read this, I'm sure tensions will have increased, and the word "catastrophe" redefined. Massage therapy awareness is needed now more than ever. I know that Massage Emergency Response Teams (MERT) will be called into action, and the capability of those teams to provide benefit will likely determine the viability and future of MERT. Those of us not involved with MERT can play an important role in assisting our clients deal with the stresses that inevitably follow crisis. One massage therapist responding on a web-based forum stated, "Now, more than ever, the work is important and I am humbled by the gift of our craft."

I overheard a mother trying to explain this morning's happenings to her five-year-old daughter - in terms that were understandable to the child. The stress in that woman's body while she fretted about how to be truthful yet compassionate to her daughter was readily visible. That woman's massage therapist has an opportunity to make a real difference in her ability to cope.

With few exceptions, massage therapists are known to be caring, compassionate people. Those traits are needed now more than ever. There are, and will continue to be, many Americans in shock, despair and pain. I am confused by my own feelings. In the natural and manmade disasters that have befallen our country since World War II, I have been able to disassociate myself enough to make coping bearable. This egregious act has stricken me harder than the others. Perhaps it is because at various times in my life I have worked in both of the buildings affected. Perhaps it is because I am retired from the military and no longer feel I can be a direct part of a solution. I am most fortunate though, because I have, to the best of my knowledge, no family or friends lost in the tragedy. I found out earlier that my youngest son, who was traveling today, was safe in Newark. Countless thousands of others are not as fortunate as I, and are deeply and personally affected by loss and grief. The power of compassionate touch can aid them through this most difficult time.

Caution is paramount, even in situations where intent is to provide relief and assistance. I suggest contacting the various associations before rushing in to help. The AMTA has MERT coordinators who have been trained in working within the constraints of disaster. ABMP has posted an excellent article on its website, outlining the complexities of combining massage and disaster care. Proceed with caution, but please proceed!

This is an important time to enhance awareness of massage therapy. Not just because our business can use a boost, but also because we can help our country in its recovery. I call on ABMP President Bob Benson, IMA President Will Green, and AMTA President-Elect Carolyn Talley to coordinate the efforts of their respective organizations, such that the impact of more than 100,000 therapists are felt in making the nation aware of the benefits of massage therapy. I hope they are joined by the added strength of the state associations. It's time for National Massage Therapy Awareness Week to become truly national and all-encompassing. Our country deserves no less; massage therapy deserves no less.

Thanks for listening! Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to the address listed below:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.


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