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?
My name is Lisa Hunstiger; I am the owner of Harmonic Wellness Center, Inc. in Cold Spring, MN. We are a massage therapy, energy therapy and pain management wellness center. We have been in business since October 2011 and have been blessed to have hundreds of satisfied customers. My specialty is incorporating many of the tools I am trained in to offer my clients a specialized treatment for their mind, body and spirit. This includes manual massage and energy therapy.
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 began my massage career because I was looking for an alternative to the Western medicine way for personal reasons. I began with the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, learning acupressure and massage. I was running my scuba diving business. Once I was able to sell the business I then went back to school and obtained my Associate degree in Massage Therapy and opened my current practice soon after. I have completed continuing education in Healing Touch and Reiki.
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.
At the time of going back to school I really had no concerns. It was more that I wanted to expand my knowledge to include more of what was being offered in the west. After beginning my education I became concerned with the over-selling of the school I was attending and the fact that Minnesota does not have a credentialing for independent massage therapists. This limits my clientele because of the inability to bill insurance for my clients. It is currently a huge issue in my business as I have many clients that have to go elsewhere to receive the help they need and because MN does not have requirements/standards for the alternative medicine industry of massage most anyone can hang their shingle and claim to know what they are doing.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
My specialty is pain management and energy therapy. The top three factors are:
1. Knowledge in the Anatomy and Physiology of the human body
2. Personal experience and self-practice.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I really enjoy helping others through their pain. I have had many clients who have suffered with chronic pain for years and after working with them they report living a more active and pain free lifestyle. One example is a woman who was diagnosed and treated for fibromyalgia. She had told me she could even hold her grandbabies because of her pain. After working with her on a treatment plan that included Myofascial release and energy therapy she has been active, went back to work and enjoys holding her grandchildren.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
Feeling the pressure to constantly fight the politicians, insurance companies and other professions for an equal respect for complementary medicine. It frustrates me when my clients clearly have wonderful results from bodywork and a high percentage have found massage is the only medicine that has decreased their pain and yet Minnesota does not credential independent MT. I also do not like being grouped in with the franchise businesses that offer huge discounts on massages if you buy into a membership or not. I am a soft tissue specialist and I take it very seriously. My intention is to do no harm and help my clients not only feel better but also become educated to help themselves. I honestly have no respect for the companies that offer such discounts it degrades the profession I am in.
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 laws in Minnesota to require massage therapists to have a license and become credentialed. I would like to standardize the educational training so that all schools which offer a degree in massage have a certain standard to comply with. This would include having instructors with a higher level of education than what their students are receiving or at least a level of experience.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I plan on practicing as long as I am able. I plan on retiring and possibly teach after.
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 MT with a hobby of making bath and body care products.
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?
I believed the information that the school told me without researching their credentials. I would recommend anyone who is seeking to become a MT to do their homework in regards to the training they will receive as well as contemplating on what direction they want to take once they are certified.
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?
Ask for the credentials of the school as well as the instructors that you will be taught by.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
I really have no answer for this.
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?
The business depending on what state you are licensed in is wonderful if you truly love to help others. Unfortunately, it is hard on the body if you decide to work at one of those places that offer membership. You have no control or very limited control to follow your passion. If you are set on becoming a MT make sure you have a good mentor and know what it is you want.
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?
I wish that the industry was taken more seriously as far as a true alternative to medicine. I am not adamantly against Westernized medicine I think there is a need for both, but would love to see that turn to more Eastern medicine for health and happiness.
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 enjoy making stained glass, willow furniture, wood crafts and soap. I love it because it allows me to escape and open to peace and calm. I also enjoy my dog Jack and horse Bonsai.
Lisa A. Hunstiger, NCTMB, Reiki, HT can be reached at www.harmonicwellnesscenter.com.