resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Connections Worth Making
"If most doctors are like me, [they are] isolated physically and professionally. I do not make the time to connect with other doctors and also a lot of doctors do not want to be connected for a lot of reasons. Dynamic Chiropractic keeps me grounded and connected.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
The Easy Way to Learn How to Document ICD-10
The 2015 Work Plan for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) includes a focus on chiropractic services. This means chiropractors can expect to see more audits and reviews in the coming year because private payers pay attention to the OIG's focus as well.
What's Triggering That Point?
An orthopedic friend recently saw a patient of mine. He felt an injection of a trigger point (TP) at the upper trapezius and surrounding areas was necessary, since that was the patient's area of chief complaint and there was a tender, radiating nodule.
Online Efforts That Convert Traffic Into Patients
Most chiropractors are using "dinner with the doc," "refer a friend," customer appreciation days, grand openings, health fairs, chamber of commerce meetings, and other networking events to get new patients.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
A New Era of Injury Awareness Means a New Focus on Prevention
Despite a dramatic Super Bowl last month, the National Football League has taken quite a few hits lately concerning player injuries, particularly concussions.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
We Have Come a Long Way – But There's a Long Way to Go; Grounded and Connected.
Joint Supplements for Athletes (Part 1)
Maintaining joint health should be a daily focus for athletes. Joint health is a complex issue for everyone, but for athletes it poses a greater concern.
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Leg Length and Pelvic Fixations
A common component of low back pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Signs of SIJ dysfunction can include fixation with reduced range of motion, and localized pain or joint laxity and inflammation.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
February, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 02
Time for Change
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
A new year can bring so many changes. Just so you know, my column will only appear four times this year. So many great authors out there, I'm sharing the ink. I have also decided that 2011 will be my "Farewell Teaching Tour" and I will significantly cut back on travels after 2011.So, come study with me when I am near your town as this could be the last time.
I'll still be around; I have lots left to share and do. But after 20 years on the road as an instructor and 13 as a musician, the road has lost most of its charm.
Change is the only constant, so watch for the changes and join in when and where you can. As always, I will be posting regular editorials on my blog: http://ralphstephens.tumblr.com, and others.
Speaking of change, a major change must occur in our profession and soon. That brings me to the feature topic of this column.
The biggest problem with massage is that almost anybody can do it with minimal training to some degree. Friends and lovers can learn to give a very enjoyable massage by reading a short article or watching a video. It takes very little to train someone to give a relaxation massage that feels reasonably good to consumers who have minimal expectations and even less awareness of the true potential of massage as therapy. I am not discounting the benefits of the parasympathetic response. My point here is that turning out thousands of massage school graduates who struggle to pass a very basic licensing exam and can hardly give a decent non-specific massage, then "placing" them in low-pay, high-turnover jobs is not going to gain us acceptance by other healthcare professions and may create a backlash against us by consumers, especially at rates of more than $100/hr.
In the short run, this is a cash cow for schools and associations but it is no way to build a profession.
So, how did we get to this place? Well, to ponder this, we have to go back into the past.
I love this quote: "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness." Alexis de Tocqueville
During the last century, when massage was having its renaissance in the 1970s and 1980s, the vast majority of people entering the profession were in their 30's, had college degrees and/or significant business and life experience. They had discovered alternative health and had a passion to learn how to better help themselves as well as to help others. Most were seeking a more desirable way to earn a living, "outside the box" where they were in control, in a much healthier environment and lower stress situation. It was rare that anyone came to massage school right out of high school, but those who did had a burning passion to learn the profession and to help people.
There were only 50 or so schools in the entire U.S. in the mid-1980s. Massage schools of that time were started by experienced, successful, professional therapists who had a passion for what they did, a knack for teaching and either wanted to share their knowledge and skills with other like-minded individuals or needed to train people to help them in their clinics. This worked rather well, because the instructors were accomplished professionals and the student base was highly motivated, self-funded (for the most part) and possessed the life experience and skills to create an alternative healthcare practice in whatever situation they chose.
These individuals could be turned into massage therapists with six months to a year of training (500 - 1,000 classroom hours) very easily and effectively. They were also acutely aware their school education was insufficient and invested in advanced continuing education at every opportunity. Because they could make a good living doing massage, they could afford this investment in advanced training, which brought huge returns in increased business as they learned how to help more people and conditions.
Today, we have a very different group of people entering the profession. Students are being recruited from the lower income, lower academic strata of high schools with promises of easy work, high pay, and guaranteed loans. These students may or may not have a passion for massage or health, for that matter.
I recently asked a student why she was in massage school. She said her guidance counselor told her she better go to massage school because it was easier than cosmetology - so she did. That is a sad perspective of massage: "It's the easiest school you can go to." The 500-650 hours of education might turn a 30-year-old, degreed professional into a massage therapist, but it will not turn the majority of today's 18-year-old, high school graduates into one.
Times have changed and we must too.
What We Must Do
The time has come to raise educational standards. Hours must increase to include more comprehensive life skills and much better massage skills. Hours in and of themselves are not the answer; curriculum and outcomes must be changed to turn out a healthcare professional that is literate in the language and techniques of the profession. It is time that we not only increase the scope of our training programs, but set significant competency standards for who can teach massage. The "if you can't do it, you can always teach it" philosophy must be abolished. Further, a good therapist does not necessarily make a good teacher, especially to today's students.
I know both these proposals are threats to the cash flow of our current school system, especially in the short run. However, for-profit schools using Title IV funding are coming under increased government pressure to increase placement and lower loan defaults.
A better-trained graduate would help with both those issues, and the only way to do that is to have better trained instructors who actually know how to teach. Most other professions have teacher training/competency standards. It is time we do too. Why? For the primary reason we should do anything: to provide better massage therapy to the public.
Of course, this will have to be a ramp up, not a jump up. Such a change will require the cooperation of all the major "stakeholders" in the profession. A proposal to create standards for instructors has been placed on the table by the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. It deserves serious consideration and support of all. You can view the proposal at http://www.afmte.org/archives/1419.
We have to start somewhere and the best place to improve education and, thus, the profession is improving the quality and abilities of the instructors teaching the work.
Keep warm. Be Well. See you this spring!
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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