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Massage Today
October, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 10

Letting Go

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

So, is everyone sufficiently sick and tired of reading about the AMTA/Massage Today lawsuit? In the last year and a half, I saw, heard and read much about it, but remained largely silent about it myself.

Many know that I have loyalties to both entities, and I didn't want to appear to be taking sides in the ongoing furor. Now that the court has spoken, I no longer feel constrained and will, as many have pushed me to do over the last year, use this issue's column to express my thoughts. I have received literally hundreds of emails and phone calls expressing dismay that I was "caught in the middle," and wondering how I managed to maintain a middle road position and loyalty to both sides.

As I sit to write this editorial and reflect upon the happenings of the past year and a half, I am learning that the personal struggle in maintaining an impartial, middle-ground stance has affected me more than I had thought possible, and letting go of the disappointment and anger I felt toward both partners in this dance is more difficult than I had imagined. It was possible for me to maintain a posture of impartiality for several reasons. The first was that I had no initial knowledge surrounding any of the facts pertaining to the case. Second, I had no control over the actions of either party. Third, and most important, I found both sides of the argument equally frustrating. At this point, I believe it is the passion I feel for this profession - its practice and practitioners - that has caused me such angst. I now know it is time to recognize this state of mind for what it is and make an effort to "take charge" of my thoughts and attitudes.

So, from a personal standpoint, I've decided that it is time to move on. I think it's important for everyone else to do so also. My original editorial this month was about continuing to understand the conflict between MPAmedia and AMTA - and helping others to do so - but I realized that perhaps it is more important to learn from this experience than to rehash the mistakes made by both sides. I'd love for this whole episode to become a valuable lesson we can all use on how to respond to uncomfortable or disagreeable situations. What this conflict has demonstrated from the very beginning was that an inadvisable action followed by an inappropriate response, with both sides adding fuel to the fire at each opportunity, is not the most effective form of conflict resolution.

Neither AMTA nor Massage Today has stood still during these difficult proceedings, but unfortunately neither has been able to work to full potential either. Massage Today has not met growth expectations or expected advertising thresholds. This has minimized the dollars available for reinvesting in the industry. AMTA has had to redirect a portion of its funds and energies from enabling successful massage therapists (who normally would introduce more of the public to the benefits of massage, benefiting the entire profession).

I think I have been reminded of the following lessons from this whole legal action:

  • We should be more patient in judging the actions of others.
  • Communication is always more important than assumption.
  • Problem-solving should never stop, no matter how difficult the situation seems at the moment.
  • Organizational disagreements should never be taken personally.
  • We must never underestimate the cost of making our viewpoint known.
  • The end does not always justify the means.
  • Good guys finish first and last, after all the legal arguments are heard.

I am doing my darndest to let go of my own pent-up emotions surrounding this issue and still continue to think and behave professionally. I hope MPAmedia and AMTA are doing the same. I know that Don Petersen Jr., publisher of Massage Today, is going to be an attendee at the AMTA national convention in Portland, Oregon in early October. I also know that AMTA President Carolyn Talley had assured me that she wants to look him in the eye and shake his hand in an effort to move forward. I sincerely hope they can both find the time to do more than shake hands. I hope they can actually meet and chart out a new course for positive future interaction. I still intend to work diligently to remain "in the middle" and do whatever I am allowed to see that both of these valuable entities continue to serve the massage therapy profession to the extent they are capable. As members and active participants of this worthwhile profession, we deserve no less, and should regularly demand such from all of our organizations and publications.

Thanks for listening!

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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