resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
March, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 03
Ending the Energy Debate
By David Lauterstein, RMT
There have been many recent online discussions in our field about "energy" and the role it may or may not play in our work and education. Many people have noted regretfully that some of the discussions have given rise to divisiveness somewhat uncharacteristic in our field.Partly, this may be a function of "social" media. When it comes to sorting out emotions, it is not a very effective medium. This reminds us that, unlike massage and the world of "high touch" in which compassion is the rule, the Internet and the world of "high tech" is not a very effective context for resolving difficult emotions.
What everyone does appear to agree on is enhancing the quality of education and therapists. It may be helpful to look at what role "energy" may or may not play in improving massage education and in therapy. First, we need to know what we are talking about. What does energy mean? Importantly, it is a word for which there is more than one definition. The definitions of "energy" refer to two quite different things – a quality of action and a physical phenomenon.
Here is the definition from the free online dictionary:
The first two definitions are more subjective and refer to the world of experience and a quality of action. The second two definitions are more objective, referring to measurable physical phenomena described by science. As we look at the energetic aspect of massage and bodywork, let's keep these varying definitions in mind.
We can note in the beginning that the energetic aspect of massage refers more to the quality of action and touch, than to the scientific, objective definition. Is massage "energy work?" If we mean by energy work, pure energy work done off-the-body, it is fairly easy to say "no." Massage involves touching the body and often is defined expressly as soft tissue manipulation in textbooks and in many state laws.
Is there an energetic aspect to touch therapy done on-the-body? Using the quality of action definitions above, we can say "yes." The quality of our touch may be considered energetic. Quantifiable aspects such as pressure may be measured, but the energetic aspect is more subjectively experienced.
We need to remember that massage can (and should) be objectively studied, but it is experienced subjectively by the client. Clients are interested in feeling better, in having more pleasure, less pain, more relaxation and more energy. Using the first two definitions we see these are subjective goals, facilitated by both the structural and energetic clarity with which we engage the tissues and the nervous system of the body.
Where both the pro- and anti-energy camps get in trouble is when they leap to the objective definitions of energy. The pro-energy folks wish to see the energy aspect of massage and bodywork as objectively existing, like electricity or magnetism. While these may be intriguing metaphors for the energetic aspect of our work, there is little if any proof that the energy spoken of by some massage therapists and bodyworkers exists objectively. Again and again, we need to return to the fact that the energetic aspect refers most directly to subjective experience. This makes it no less real, our experience is real – but like thought and emotion, like love – you can't find it under a microscope.
Now the elusiveness of how to describe subjective/energetic experience has given rise to various terminologies. Some people are attracted to a particular language describing the energetic aspect because that was what they were taught or they find those concepts and vocabularies illuminating of their own experience as receivers and as givers. Some people find helpful the languages of chi or meridians, prana, kundalini, chakras, bio-energy, élan vital, psychology or phenomenology, etc. Some people prefer language referring primarily to the nervous and endocrine systems, seeing the experience of energy largely as a projection of the brain.
How can and should we reflect these varying views in our education? No one is saying this should a mandatory part of basic curricula, however, there are some ways various educators may choose in a balanced way to cover this topic.
We may cover some of energetic aspects of massage and bodywork in our history classes. Asian concepts linking up energy and anatomy have played a role in the history of massage. The "humours" in medieval medicine; the assumption of links between the spiritual and physical aspects of health; the energetic understandings of psychology and, most recently, psychoneuroimmunology – any or all of these may be helpful in producing students with a fuller picture of our work and its roots in the history of manual and mind-body therapy.
We can note that many modalities explicitly integrate structural and energetic work – zero balancing, deep massage, some forms of myofascial release. And many more assume this is what's happening – shiatsu, Thai massage, rolfing, etc.
We should cover how conscious and unconscious beliefs affect health. Chronic mindsets and chronic emotional conditions can exacerbate or even cause a variety of tension-syndromes. The placebo effect is powerful. Ted Kaptchuk, author and acupuncturist and colleagues mostly from Harvard have created a "Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter." It is equally important for students to also understand the nocebo effect – the harm that can be caused by uncaring healthcare that may evoke negative feelings in the client. Placebo and nocebo effects of course may be considered as within the realm of the energetics of touch.
In looking at assessment skills and the therapeutic relationship, it is important that we consider posture, movement, and the energetics that may underlie those. We may agree on what we should not do:
We should not talk to clients about their "energy." Diagnosis, whether structural or energetic, is not within our scope of practice. When a massage therapist or bodyworker talks to the client about their energy, they are way beyond the boundaries of massage (and basic etiquette) and quite likely to evoke the nocebo affect by verbally attributing certain energy characteristics to a client.
We should be conscious that when we are touching people, it is a contact which is more than just physical. This means we need to take responsibility for the energetic as well physical effects of our interaction and touch. We need to recognize that we are touching both structure and energy.
Massage is an art and a science. We depend on research and scientific knowledge to enable us to work effectively with our clients. At the same time, every session is a person-to-person, moment-to-moment improvisation that calls for a subtle sensitivity to the medium we are working with. In the case of massage/bodywork, our medium is the most complex and sensitive life form known to exist. Of course, we need art and science. Of course, we need to know this person is a profound integration of structure and energy, tissue and issues, and to be sensitive to what is both objectively true and subjectively experienced.
To argue for or against either the structural or energetic perspective is like arguing which of your two eyes you ought to see out of. By honoring both what research and what subjective experiences teach us, we arrive at the highest quality of touch, education and therapeutic benefit. Without science, without a respect for knowledge and structure, we lose our commitment to truth; without art, without a respect for subjective, energetic experience, we lose our commitment to the soul and beauty of our work. We see better and more truly with both eyes.
David Lauterstein is Co-Director of Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in Austin, Texas. He is author of "The Deep Massage Book" and "Putting the Soul Back in the Body." David has been inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame, received AMTA's Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award, and in 2013, was recognized as "Educator of the Year" by the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. For more info, visit www.TLCschool.com.
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