1. Tell us a bit more about you and your practice as it is today? i.e. are you a solo practitioner or a business owner? If solo, what kind of an establishment do you work for, how large is it, what is the clientele like, what is the specialty offered? If it is a business that you own, kindly include the same time of relevant information that will give the reader a good idea about your establishment/practice. Please also include where you live and work?
I currently have a private practice in a separate structure at my home. I began my career in massage therapy and have transitioned to structural integration since 2007. I am a Doctor of Integrative Medicine. My specialties include chronic pain management, fibromyalgia, arthritis and postpartum treatments.
2.Tell us why you chose to go into massage and at what point in your life did you decide to do so? What were you doing at the time? Where did you first hear about the massage career? What factors influenced your decision? What were you looking to get out of this decision?
I decided to go into massage therapy after studying with traditional healers in Bali, Indonesia. Massage therapy was a pathway to give me the license to touch and practice what I had learned in Bali. In the mid 90’s I had just completed my Masters degree in systems theory in biological systems and I was interest in how I could invite change in living systems. Massage seemed to be an ideal choice.
3. What were some of your questions and concerns before further pursuing your massage therapy goals? Talk about concerns with school and the profession itself.
The biggest challenge for me was transitioning to massage school without incurring student debt. I eventually found a school in Colorado where I was able to achieve my goal of taking on no student loans or debt to achieve my license in New Mexico.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
Again, I consider myself a structural integrator, which required more advanced education. I have several thousand hours of continuing education and I am continually studying and researching. I believe my practice is successful because in addition to being professional and reliable, I have an advanced skill set. When I teach I continually say it is important to practice on a lot of bodies.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I feel passionate about helping people out of pain.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
I will have to repeat “I feel passionate about helping people out of pain”.
7. If there were three things you could change about your work or the industry as a whole what would they be? Why would you change them? What would you change them to?
I would like to change the outward perception of what potential clients think of massage. The field of massage is broad and there is a big difference between a therapist who practices relaxation massage only to one who practice a pain management style of treatment.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I plan to never stop. I have been practicing for over 19 years.
9. Do you currently have another job or business whether full time or part time? Tell us a bit more about it and how you are able to juggle that with your massage career?
I am a full time faculty at the University of New Mexico-Taos in medical massage and yoga teacher training programs. I still practice full-time and I am yoga instructor,
10. What are some mistakes you made in your career pursuit that you’d like to warn other students about so they can learn from your experience and avoid it?
11. What would you advice someone who is looking at massage therapy schools? What do you recommend they look for and how? How do you recommend they determine whether the school is the right one for them?
I recommend getting a high quality education with advanced training. The field of massage has changed substantially in the last 20 years. Some programs have not redesigned their curriculum to meet the current scope of knowledge that is available. Also, I feel it is important the instructors are currently maintaining a practice in massage therapy.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
There are several community colleges that offer student loans and the program cost are lower.
13. What are your three biggest points of advice for an aspiring massage therapist today? What should they do/not do? What should they think about and consider?
If possible take an introductory course in massage and make sure it is something you really want to pursue. Massage is not an easy career pathway to make a lot of money. It is hard work combined with passion to help others.
14. Any open thoughts / comments – anything else that you’d like to share about yourself, the massage industry, profession, future, etc? If nothing, make one prediction for the future of massage?
Due to my years practicing and teaching in the field, I think that what we think of as a “massage therapist” will continue to grow and change to a leading practitioner in chronic pain management.
15. What is your passion outside of massage? What are your hobbies and interests which you pursue when you are not working? Tell us why you enjoy what you enjoy.
I am mom, partner, electric cellist, cyclist, alternative home builder and I live off the grid on solar power in Taos, New Mexico.
Dr. Kirstie Bender Segarra is a PhD, LMT, RMTI, ERYT. You can contact her on her website here.