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Massage Today
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08

We Get Letters & E-Mail

"Has more government ever fixed anything?"

Dear Editor:

The last issue [June 2002] of Massage Today left me with the sinking feeling that again we are spiraling downhill toward extinction.

As if Mr. Stephens' series on the poor quality of massage schools wasn't depressing enough (only because he's right), now we have two death blows on the front page. First is the article on the Department of Education wanting to oversee the accreditation of massage schools. Wonderful, our salvation is coming from the folks who brought us high-school graduates who can't read their diploma or find their home state on a map! These people have disemboweled the education system in this country so completely that people are home-schooling their children by the millions and " the public school system" has become fodder for late-night comedians. Is this really the people we want trying to fix an already ailing system? Have they ever "fixed" anything? Has more government ever fixed anything?

Then there's the article describing recommendations for integrating alternative and allopathic health care. Read, taking over alternative health care! What else can you call it when a "science" that is approximately two hundred years old has the ego and audacity to sit in judgment on treatments and modalities that predate the birth of Christ, to determine "safety and efficacy"? How about if the allopaths clean up their own backyard first; an estimated 230,000 - 284,000 people are killed each year by "iatrogenic" causes - a fancy word for screw ups! Modern medicine is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. One hundred thousand of these people are killed each year by prescription drugs that this same scientific community has deemed safe and effective!

In a very brief search, I found that 13.7 billion was spent on "alternative" health care, and that was for 1992. I'm sure it is much higher now. Almost all of this is out-of-pocket cash, not the little-now, little-never insurance and HMO payment plan.

So, do you suppose the third-largest killer of U.S. citizens and the government want to help keep us safe, or do you think they are just after the money? Have you priced a hospital aspirin lately? Has more government ever fixed anything?

Bret H. Burlock, RMT
Abilene, Texas


"I am amazed and appalled by his claim..."

Dear Editor:

I generally don't take the time to write letters to publications, but I felt so strongly about your "Perceptions" article that I had to write! (Editor's note: See Cliff Korn's article in the June 2002 issue). In my 10 years in the field, I also have seen a tremendous difference in the way the public perceives massage therapy. The positive physical and mental benefits of massage therapy have been widely accepted by even the most conservative. If you're missing the boat on how other massage therapists conduct their practices, I've missed that same boat! And I don't think the blame can be placed completely on uneducated writers or those looking to uncover prurient aspects. (Although I find it hard to believe that the editors of Healing Retreats & Spas would let such an immature writer submit an article titled "Rules of Engagement"!)

I might have placed more blame on the media had it not been for the letter you printed by Chris Castanes of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His letter was so unbelieveable that I read it four times to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding him. I'm not even going to debate the state licensure, continuing education or insurance reimbursement issues he brought up... that's another letter. What I am amazed and appalled by is his claim that "A large portion of licensed therapists engage in inappropriate behavior." How does he know this to be true? Through conversations with his clients on the topic!

Nowhere does Mr. Castanes claim to be a "professional" -- but his claim of being a "licensed massage therapist" does give credence to his argument that the licensure process is flawed and meaningless. Are you quite sure that Chris Castanes is not the writer of the article in Healing Retreats?!

Michelle Pfeiffer, MSW, CMT
Richmond, Virginia


Ensuring Professional Credibility

Dear Editor:

I am a struggling, full-time (10+ years) professional. I am in support of the strongest requirements for the profession. I really don't care about part-timers. I am old enough (54) to remember California in the 70s, when it seemed everybody's brother or cousin had a real estate license. Entry into that profession was easy until California finally increased the requirements. As I try to grow my massage business, I hear basically the same thing - "my daughter is a LMT," my co-worker's cousin is a LMT," etc.

It is too easy to get into the massage profession, and there are too many people in it. The "money" is in having a massage school, and the schools turn out grads faster than the public can support them, not to mention that so many of them are mediocre at best. (See Ralph Stephens' recent series of articles.) Someone can always choose to practice part-time, but we need the highest standards of competence to enhance our therapeutic credibility.

Daniel Vasquez, BS, LMT
Phoenix, Arizona


"Congratulations on a Job Well Done"

Dear Editor:

I would like to address a comment made by Ruth Werner about her experience at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. (Editor's note: See "Massage at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games" in the May 2002 issue.) It sounds as if Ruth and her team experienced a "baptism by fire" concerning World Cup and Olympic organizations. I have worked for eight U.S. and international olympic teams and have practiced massage therapy in Utah for 13 years. In 1994, after having worked with the U.S. CrossCountry Ski Team for six years, I was told by the U.S. Olympic Committee that my profession "was not a valid medical practice" and I was not formally named to the team staff. The U.S. Cycling Team had managed to get around the red tape by naming team therapists as "coaches."

Prior to the Norway Olympics, I spent two years traveling throughout Europe with the U.S. men's and women's cycling teams, and saw how other countries not only integrated massage into their programs, but relied heavily on these team members. U.S. teams often staff "soigners" or massage therapists, and have done so for many years. Most professional sports organizations employ massage therapists for their athletes and for coaching and administrative staff.

The fact that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee had reservations about incorporating massage therapy into the overall picture for the Olympics did not (likely) have anything to do with "the conservative (bordering on repressive) attitudes toward touch and alternative health care in Utah." I have been in private practice in this state for 13 years, and I suppose I have "succeeded" both financially and on a personal level. When I first moved here, there was one massage school; now there are three. One is accredited by the National Board of Academic Accreditation. My client base runs the gamut: Mormons; non-Mormons (that's me, in case you were wondering), physicians; teachers; clergy; parents; world-class and recreational athletes; the disabled and the elderly. Many of my peers are "gainfully employed" in the practice of massage and other "alternative medical practices."

I am sure Ms. Werner's experience with SLOC was indeed a trying one, and the fact that she and her team persevered is admirable. However, she may want to take more than a two-week look at this state's educational and employment opportunities, which are available to anyone wishing to practice alternative medicine in the state of Utah. The government power base here reflects that of the nation at this time: regretfully conservative. We as practitioners must continue to be vigilant and participate in lawmaking as it governs our profession. It is not unlike the struggle of those athletes that you and your team served, Ruth: it takes years and years of effort, many disappointments, and substantial community support to succeed. Enter the stadium and do your best, and do not forget that it will be the journey that brings you your greatest joy... not the medal.

Congratulations on a job well done. You made a difference not only to the athlete's performance, but more importantly, to their Olympic experience.

Julie Willis, LMT
Salt Lake City, Utah


Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Dear Editor:

I could not let one more month go by without thanking you for your extremely helpful, informative and supportive publication. It's so refreshing to read about issues that are so near to my ongoing experiences with massage.

My latest project is to assist in creating a spa department at the gym where I work. We currently offer massage with a staff of seven, but have the challenge of boosting sales to justify construction of an almost full-service spa. I've inherited this position, managing the staff and working on the spa, while my supervisor (a nonmassage person) is out on extended maternity leave. Timing is everything, so they say, and I think it's serendipitous that I'm in this position at this particular time. I have a solo massage practice, but I have no management or spa experience, although I have a solo massage practice.

Your spa section has been a lifesaver. John Fanuzzi's column on "Building a Successful Spa" couldn't have come at a better time. I look forward to all the upcoming issues to get me through this interesting time in my life. Thank you for your commitment to supplying us with the kind of pertinent information we can use in our day-to-day lives as massage therapists. We do such valuable work, and it seems a shame to waste time reinventing the wheel.

Jane Weerasinghe, LMT
Rochester, New York

 

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