resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
June, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 06
Caring too Much
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
Years ago, while sitting in a restaurant with a colleague, I learned something about myself. We each worked as massage therapists in eldercare facilities and it was really nice to talk to someone who "got it." Our conversation took an unexpected turn.We candidly admitted seemingly unhealthy responses to our work — and they were quite similar: distancing more than we thought we should and feeling irritated with other caregivers. There was one thing that stands out. We each were avoiding our work by putting off seeing clients and rushing through sessions. This caught our attention because we both love our work. So, why were we avoiding it? It just didn't make sense. We had a good laugh at ourselves, got some relief and I'm grateful for it even years later (thanks, Jeff).
I now realize that we might each have experienced compassion fatigue. As it turns out, we aren't alone. Anyone in a "helping profession" is vulnerable. Nurses, doctors, counselors, veterinarians, social workers, chaplains, emergency response workers and people caring for aging parents can also experience this. Massage therapists are on the list, too. I think those of us who specialize in working with frail elders and people living with terminal illness are especially vulnerable. Choosing to serve this special population means we are sensitive people to begin with — not a bad quality to have, but maybe it means we need to check in with ourselves from time to time to avoid the toll of compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a relatively new term. Dr. Charles Figley, an expert on the subject, describes it as, "a state experienced by those helping people in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it is traumatizing for the helper." He goes on to say that, "the capacity for compassion and empathy seems to be at the core of our ability to do the work and at the core of our ability to be wounded by the work."
Compassion fatigue results from the cumulative impact of taking care of people living with serious illness, trauma, abuse or severe conditions. It's different than job burnout, which is dissatisfaction with our employment situation, not necessarily the work itself.
Wanting Others To Be Happy
Compassion is our feelings and thoughts when we witness the suffering of another and the unconditional desire to alleviate that suffering. The Dalai Lama describes compassion as the "wish for another being to be free from suffering and wanting them to be happy." He also tells us that sometimes we confuse compassion with attachment, which is our own personal investment in the outcome of the situation. In other words, when we think we are feeling compassion, we actually are wrapped up in our own emotional needs rather than simply being open to the needs of the other person. Perhaps it's attachment that leads to compassion fatigue, not compassion itself. In my experience, when I truly feel compassion, I'm uplifted and it does my heart good. I feel love.
A perfect illustration of this happened just yesterday to a massage therapist named Jane in a workshop taking place in a long-term care facility. When Jane walked into the elder's room, she was stunned when she took in what she saw — an extremely thin, emaciated woman with severe bruising and discoloration on her arms and legs sitting in her wheelchair, alone. Jane described her first reaction as fear, which turned to sadness for this woman's condition and knowing that she really couldn't do anything to change it. But she conjured up the courage to stay present and focused her attention on this woman rather than the outer condition. The fear softened. She gently massaged the woman's shoulders and neck and she told Jane, "that feels good." Jane shared that following the session, instead of fear she felt good knowing she had made a difference by connecting with this woman. She was able to drop the attachment to the fear and sadness which allowed her to be present and both she and the elder were uplifted in the process.
Knowing the Signs
How can you recognize compassionate fatigue? Some of the symptoms might seem like "normal" stress responses and you might associate them with your work. After all, we live in a pretty stressful world these days. Some characteristics of compassion fatigue include:
Recognizing our vulnerability to these symptoms is important. How can we avoid this reaction or ease them when they happen? The answer lies in holistic self-care. Advice about self care typically includes physical support like regular exercise, getting enough sleep and good nutrition. However, we shouldn't stop there. Nancy Jo Bush, an oncology nurse, says that holistic self-care also includes setting empathetic boundaries; self awareness and self forgiveness; being in tune with one's spirituality and finding hope. The experts agree that reaching out to others and developing a support system is critical. Who would you turn to if you needed the support of an understanding friend? I personally like the advice from a practitioner working in hospice who says, "lighten up and don't forget to laugh."
That reminds me of an old Joni Mitchell lyric, "laughing and crying, you know it's the same release." Thanks, Joni. We'll all try to remember that!
Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
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