More about me, some Q & A

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Sometimes there is confusion about whether I’m a naturopath. Not here! In Florida, I’m licensed as a massage therapist, because that’s what I need in order to work with soft tissue mobilization techniques.

My education started in Germany in 1994 at a college for natural health. I’m licensed as a naturopathic physician there, and have been specializing in treating the neuro-musculoskeletal system.
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How Can I Find A Mentor? (for free)

by Alison Quine

My favorite kind of volunteer work is mentoring. Nowadays it’s fashionable to have a mentor, and “finding a mentor” is high up on the to-do-list for young professionals.

But how do you go about this? Do you just ask “would you mentor me”?

Usually not. Unless, of course, you’re willing to pay for it. Which would be great.. and if you pick carefully, you’ll get a lot more than your money’s worth.

But let’s assume you’re broke, and you need free help to get on your feet.

Here’s what you do:

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The Paradox Pitch

I hate being sold to… almost as much as I hate selling.

But it’s true… we’re all in sales. The experts tell us to just talk to people and tell them how much massage therapy can help their pain, their anxiety, their headaches.

Sorry, I can’t do it. The most I managed was to introduce myself to other business owners, as a new neighbor. Just a courtesy call, not a sales pitch. If my acquaintances mention aches and pains, I will not be the one who says “Why don’t you make an appointment with me?” Continue reading

Why is Massage Therapy So Expensive?

(update 9/9/13: Reactions I’m getting on Facebook and in the comments here suggest that I haven’t been clear.
The image is making fun of my past self and other idealistic therapists who aren’t good with money. I do not suggest people should charge $25! I had hoped my post would explain why I think that in some areas where the cost of living is high, and office space is at a premium, even $100 would not suffice to cover the cost and a living wage.
Of course the price of a service depends on value for the customer, so I tried to explain this post is not about top-notch manual therapy, it’s about an “average” relaxation massage.
And last… I do value massage therapy highly, and I know of the benefits. I will not edit the post itself, since that would make a lot of the comments look strange, but I think I should have been MUCH clearer.
Please accept my apologies.)                       Continue reading

Structural Interventions for Instant Results

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In the past four years, I’ve developed, tested and improved my own type of bodywork for quick fixes. It’s based on techniques I learned in Germany 1995-98 when I was studying naturopathic medicine and bodywork, but is also influenced by my current work as a Certified Rolfer™–or, to be more specific, SIFIR is what I do when I don’t do Rolfing®.
I’m not always going for the holistic re-education of the whole body that Rolfing Structural Integration is intended for. Quite often I see clients who are well-integrated and just have a singular problem that needs attention, often related to injury, or just “a crick in the neck”.
Other times there is a problem with pain or limited range of motion that is standing in the way of better integration and needs to be addressed before a holistic approach can be used.

In those cases symptom-oriented bodywork is called for, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. Now I’ve put my quick fixes into a system.

Since my clients often comment on “instant gratification”, I call it SIFIR–Structural Interventions for Instant Results.

This is not about selling “new” techniques. If you have a lot of experience with myofascial work, especially structural bodywork, the techniques themselves are similar.

What’s “new” is that I aim at high efficiency for fast pain relief. A lot of my sessions are just 20 minutes long, and the results are great.
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Do Massage Therapists Expect Tips?

Etiquette around gratuity is puzzling for foreigners like me. But it’s also a problem for Americans! We often don’t know whether a service provider is an employee or an independent contractor, whether they get paid well or the bare minimum, and some people seem to get offended when a tip is offered.

I’ve heard of massage therapy experts who refuse tips with the argument “Do you tip your doctor?”

Then I also hear some who feel insulted because they didn’t get a tip. Continue reading

Treatment Guidelines for Massage Therapists #3: The Confidence Cure

image by Spielbrick Films

Now, this is the strangest of my guidelines so far–and the one that causes me the most internal struggle. I don’t want to be the cocky therapist I spoke of in part 1 of this series. But somebody who wants to get better might lose their confidence if I only talk about “trial and error” and admit freely that I don’t know what’s going on. So I’m navigating a gray area.

I say “I don’t know” but follow with a plausible theory, and explain that I will use it as the basis of my tryout treatment. But I also speak of similar cases that were easily resolved by my treatments.

Studies show that pain responds to expectations. Whether you say “You’ll have to live with this, if there is a herniation, you’ll always be in pain” or “That’s just a problem of a few tense spots, they’re harmless, but cause nasty pain that will pass in a couple of weeks” chances are you’re right.

I’ve gotten this very important piece of information from Paul Ingraham’s tutorial on low back pain. It’s a must read for massage therapists, so go buy it now!

The problem with pain is that it’s a construct of the brain, not something that happens in the tissue. We like to think that what’s going on with muscles and fascia and nerves is in direct relationship to the pain, but that’s not true.

Since it would be WAY out of our scope of practice to treat the brain, we can treat the tissue, get more mobility, more range of motion, less tension into the sore spots–but we should also keep in mind that our clients need to feel confident.

I find it easiest to be truthful and reassuring by using examples and statistics. First we need to educate ourselves, then we can empower our clients. Paul Ingraham’s website has been helping me a lot, and I keep sharing his information with my clients.

So is “the confidence cure” nothing but placebo? Ingraham has an answer here, too (and it’s “no”). Pain gets worse with stress, and the probability of the pain passing is higher when we expect it to pass. So giving correct, well-researched information is no placebo, it’s a cure in itself.

What’s your favorite source of recent information? Do you have a blog that you often recommend to clients? A news outlet? How important is research in your practice? Please comment!

Treatment Guidelines for Massage Therapists #2: Work the Attachments

I’ve told you about my “Consultation & Tryout” sessions. The tryout part is a very short treatment, about 20 minutes, to address a local problem.

20 minutes give me plenty of time to work out the attachments around the affected area. Often nothing else is needed in a session.

Case example:

(of course name and job is changed)

Steven came to me because he couldn’t sit down for a year. In his job as a sales representative for a technology company he had to work on the computer, the phone, and visit prospective clients, so he was driving a lot.

In his office, he had managed to work while standing up, but in meetings standing was awkward, so he sat down a little sideways, with sharp pain around the left sitz bone (ischial tuberosity).

Of course driving was extremely difficult, and since this had been going on for a year, other problems were showing up: low back pain because of the sideways sitting and pain under the heels because he was standing for long hours in the office.

He said that seeing a couple of doctors had been inconclusive, and nobody really knew what to do with him. Ischial bursitis came up as a possible diagnosis.

Because an acquaintance had told him about me, he was interested in my inexpensive “tryout” option. At this point he was willing to try anything, but he surely didn’t want to waste any more money.

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5 Best Marketing Strategies for Introverts

Are you an introvert? Then you probably feel the need to be alone from time to time, and you rather think than engage in smalltalk. Not sure? Take a test and tell me your result in the comments!

Introverted business owners often struggle with marketing. Especially business owners like me, who run small places that don’t have a “sales” department. The idea of “selling” alone makes us cringe. But so does the corporate environment of gregarious shoulderslappers who constantly quiz you about your weekend plans. It’s exhausting to walk through the hallways, trying to keep a smile plastered on your face, forcing yourself to laugh and chat. Eventually you got tired of being a team player. Continue reading