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Massage Today
December, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 12

No Better Time Than Now

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

The holidays are upon us. It is a wonderful time of the year; a time when people buy gift certificates for massage with complete abandon. When I first started my practice, very few Christmas gift certificates were brought in and used.

In the last few years, they all are redeemed. I think this shows the improved awareness of massage by the general public, and the improved image of massage in the past few years.

At the end of each year, almost every person of every persuasion has a day to acknowledge his or her beliefs. From the most sacred to the most material to the most demonic, all seem to agree this is a special time of the year. It is a time of conclusion and a time of beginning. Close the books December 31, and make New Year's resolutions January 1.

In our profession, we are near an ending. The emergence period is or will soon be over. It has been quite a ride from obscurity to fad. Unfortunately, little planning was done to establish a firm foundation under the profession to support the exponential growth we have experienced. Standards, definitions and terminology have become watered down to include anyone and anything.

Our profession awakened from its "Dark Ages" in the late 1960s with high hopes of being an alternative to the sickness care delivery system of the allopaths. For a fleeting moment, it looked as if that idea might manifest into reality. However, egos, the struggle for power and the almighty dollar is rapidly relegating the profession to the spa/relaxation/new age sector and the symptom-treating sector -- easier to control, I suppose.

Instead of developing and defending natural therapeutics as a viable alternative to the allopaths, we are trying desperately to get them to control us. We bow to them and lower our rates to be a part of their plans. Schools lure kids into our profession with promises of big bucks from insurance scams. We spend more time studying pathology than we do studying health. We are trying to prove massage "works" through allopathic research methods, so they will prescribe massage.

If this pattern continues, the allopaths will control massage. We are handing it to them, on their terms. The goal of the sickness care system is more sickness. They must have a neverending supply of patients. The treatment protocols are designed to ensure future business. Wellness is a dirty word to the allopathic industry. If we continue to run toward the medical model and its extortion scam (insurance), our opportunity to provide wellness and health care will be diminished or lost altogether. It will be such a waste if we become soft tissue symptom specialists, treating minor musculoskeletal complaints, as allowed by thegatekeepers, for $12.50 an hour plus benefits in the PT Departments.

As the emergence period ends, the co-opting period is beginning. It is going quite well in Texas. Prostitution has just about reclaimed the term massage there. Many of what are called massage schools in Texas crank out prostitutes faster than therapists. Those of you in Texas who care about massage as a health care profession better get to work next year, before it is too late.

The cosmetology accreditation association has applied for, and will mostly likely be granted, permission to accredit massage and bodywork programs. Look for some of our scope of practice to disappear into this hole and come out as property of the cosmetology profession. "Cosmo schools" may engineer a lock on the spa training market with integrated training of massage and cosmetology. Watch for this tragic development in your area soon.

The DCs will be marching on our scope of practice during the next legislative period. The public health sector is trying to gain complete control over health care by passing the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA). Don't let them get away with this where you live.

The good news is, there is still time to save ourselves. The public has had a taste of alternative health care. They are seeking it with a passion. They are tired of being "practiced upon" by the sickness system. This is the group that will support us in defending our scope of practice and our right to practice. These are the people who want cost-effective health care most of the time and crisis medicine only occasionally, preferably never.

We must become active in promoting personal medical savings and health care reimbursement accounts. This encourages people to make their own decisions about health care, instead of insurance companies. Massage is incredibly cost-effective, considering what we do. We must become active legislatively, defending our scope of practice and freedom of health care. Only you, as an individual can do this. Just 10 people ringing a state legislator's phone gets his or her attention. It is up to you -- not some association, not some group. Only you can prevent this legislation. This is not for our personal benefit; it is for our patients and their children.

The November elections are over, and America has the government and politicians it deserves. If you didn't vote, don't complain. You had your chance and blew it. All we can do now is work with the hand we've been dealt, and do the best we can with it. Action is required; effort is required. If you want to do something bad for the world, thousands of people will help you. If you want to do something good, you will be part of a very small group - but that small group will be much more powerful than the mob. Societal change has always been brought about by small, powerful groups.

Celebrate this season according to your beliefs. Remember, there is something bigger about it than yourself, something bigger than all the glitter. May you experience the joy of inner peace, and may that joy guide you and inspire you to better serve suffering humanity. Commit to making your life and the lives of those you touch better by this time next year.

Happy holidaze!

Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB.


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