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Massage Today
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01

Interesting Times

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

A new year has begun!

I wish you success, happiness and good health. It will be an interesting year, to say the least. The old Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times," appears to be in full force.

The economy, the rumblings of war, the interesting weather all contribute to a population that is more stressed than ever.

Stress causes immune-system suppression, so more people will be more sick than ever. These people also will need the stress-relieving effects of massage more than ever. Unfortunately, most people look at stress reduction as a luxury. Luxuries are the first thing to be cut from a tight budget. However, stress also causes people to have more accidents and injuries, and to manifest painful soft-tissue conditions. Relieving pain is a necessity, so room will be made, even in tight budgets.

Pain is a huge stressor. Relief from soft tissue pain provides deeper and longer lasting stress reduction than a general relaxation massage. Invest in learning specific techniques and skills that allow you to help people gain relief from pain, and you will stay busy, even in an economic downturn. Remember, even in the best of times, there are always people who are not doing very well, and even in the worst of times, there are always people who are doing great. Find the people in your area who are doing great. Market your services to them. Do this, and you will not have to participate in the economic downturn.

Unfinished Business

In my last column, I mentioned a situation in the great state of Texas, regarding unethical individuals using massage as a front for prostitution. This problem was brought to my attention by many concerned therapists in Texas. It appears to be a growing trend. Unfortunately, I painted the picture with a rather large brush, and ended up insulting many ethical therapists and school owners. The result was numerous colorful superlatives aimed in my general direction.

To clarify, I did not mean to imply that most Texas schools are unethical or substandard, or that most Texas RMTs are prostitutes. To those ethical therapists and school owners I offended, I sincerely apologize, right here in public. I personally know many great therapists in Texas. I have also worked and corresponded with several excellent schools in Texas. I like Texas. I have family in Texas. But hey, Texas, you do have a problem, and you know it. The individuals who contacted me, offended by my comments, all admitted that the problem exists; they just didn't like me pointing it out. To those individuals, I say this: Stop trying to shoot the messenger, and direct your energy toward correcting the problem. Raise your standards, and get the Texas Department of Health to enforce the law. Do whatever it takes.

I will not air any more dirty laundry from Texas in this column; however, do hope to report frequently on the positive progress they make. I am in touch with the Texas chapter of the AMTA, the Texas Association of Massage Therapists (TAMT) and the Austin Bodywork Cooperative. I will be in the Houston, Texas area on May 17, to facilitate an organizational meeting to begin the process of change for the better. Feel free to start before I get there.

While I have not received reports of the prostitution-as-massage problem in other regulated states, there is no doubt it exists. Sadly, this is because our profession allows it to exist. It is the moral duty of ethical massage therapists to file complaints and press charges against unethical massage practitioners, practices and schools. Demand that the police, the regulatory agency (or both) aggressively pursue the violators. Too many have worked too hard for too long cleaning up this profession. Great strides have been made, and the public is beginning to understand the value of ethical massage and to trust massage therapists. This is not the time to become complacent and allow the massage profession to backslide into another dark age.

Hopeful Concern

I have lots to share with you this year. There are so many issues about to boil over, in the massage profession and in health care in general. Freedom of choice in health care is on the chopping block in state and national legislative bodies. For the sake of your patients and your practice (not to mention your own health), I hope you become active in defending medical freedom of choice and privacy.

Here is a good place to start. It seems everyone in D.C. is utterly baffled as to how an ugly little provision shielding pharmaceutical behemoth Eli Lilly from billions in lawsuits filed by the parents of children injured by vaccines, made its way, in the 12th hour, into, of all things, the 475-page Homeland Security bill.

Senators Stabenow, McCain and Kucinich are working to get this provision repealed. They may have found an unlikely ally in their battle. It turns out that Rep. Dan Burton, the chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, has a grandson who first began showing symptoms of autism within days of receiving vaccinations containing Thimerosal. Twenty years ago, 1 in 10,000 children were thought to be autistic; now, it's more than 1 in 250. Support these senators if you believe the pharmaceutical cartel should be responsible for the problems it causes. If concerned citizens do not shout louder than the lobbyists, Lilly and others will be able to profit as they knowingly destroy the health of millions. If you are too busy, then just hold out your arm, and your kids arm - it won't hurt for long, and soon you won't be able to care.

Support the Shift

Despite the attempts of the government and the insurance industry to co-opt and control, there is a huge paradigm shift underway in people's desire for health care. They want health care, not sickness care. They are running away from the allopathic sickness care system for all but crisis medicine needs. This shift needs support from all the alternative professions. If it is enlivened with our faith and effort, it can bring about a healthier world on many levels. Sick people do sick things. As individuals practicing alternative health care, we must work together (as must our professional organizations) to nurture this paradigm shift toward wellness.

More on this and many other hot button topics in upcoming issues. If it matters, its in Massage Today, so stay tuned, be watchful, think and be well.

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


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