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Massage Today
July, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 07

We Get Letters & E-Mail

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be edited for space and clarity, and published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to .

Never Forget Why You Became a Massage Therapist

Dear Editor:

This is in reply to a letter in your May 2008 issue written by John B. Frederick, in reply to an article by Ralph Stevens. I hardly ever write in response to letters to the editor, but Mr. Frederick's letter was such I felt obligated to all those dedicated and caring massage therapists and educators who care about their clients. I will answer him point by point.

First, Mr. Frederick claims 90 percent of all massage therapists who walk through massage therapy school have no business being there. I would like to know where Mr. Frederick gets his numbers. I have taught and hold to the highest standards every student in my multiple classes and have never seen numbers like that. It is true there are many individuals who sign up, but they are soon weeded out by either their dedicated instructors or by their unwillingness to work hard and meet the grade.

Second, Mr. Frederick states schools do not weed out those who are not "born" to be massage therapists. Can Mr. Frederick please tell me how you can "weed out" potential therapists during a one- to two-hour interview process? It is a school's curriculum and the knowledge and experience of their passionate instructors that forces a student to either make the grade or not. If the school curriculum is strong enough and the instructors are observant enough, those who are not born for this work will not "cut it" and those who are, will. I'm not saying every school holds these same values, but I know for a fact and from experience that many do. By the way, the hamstrings are three muscles: biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. Did you know if I was right without looking it up? How about the origins, insertions and actions?

You talk about results. Can you explain the results you are talking about? There are many specialties involved in the practice of massage therapy. Each is result-oriented, but those expected results are different, for example:

  • A massage therapist working in a spa is expected by their clients to provide a thoroughly relaxing massage through which the cares of the day, week or month are driven away, even for just one hour.
  • A massage therapist who deals with medical massage issues is expected to treat the issue the client comes in with, be it carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain or chronic headaches.
  • A hospital-based massage therapist is expected to provide comfort and a caring massage to someone who is ill, injured or suffering from a life-threatening disease. This is not a curing modality, but one which provides palliative and supportive care for the patient.

Finally, and the main reason for this letter, Mr. Frederick states 95 percent of everything that walks into his office has a soft-tissue problem. I would be curious to hear the replies from his clients if they heard themselves, along with their physical, emotional and spiritual problems, referred to as things. As someone who has seen firsthand the power of touch when dealing with those individuals touched by illness and disease, I take great offense to that statement. These people are not things. They are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents, siblings, children and friends reaching out for someone to "rub" their hands or feet, massage their back after laying on an operating table or MRI machine, massage their neck after lying in a hospital bed for weeks, or just receive the tender loving touch of another human being.

I took great offense to Mr. Frederick's letter and suggest he come to New Jersey and see our students at work and the response from the mothers, fathers, etc. He does make some valid points, but I think in the past 25 years, he has lost sight of why he became a massage therapist in the first place. It's not about fixing; it's about being there in the best way you can and improving yourself as you venture on this journey.

James T. Zazeski, NCTMB, AOSMT
New Jersey


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