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 have been a sole proprietor my entire career that began back in 1984. I began as a massage therapist in Texas long before there was licensing. In fact, our group of massage therapists and body workers created an association that eventually got the law enacted in Texas and I was one of the first 250 massage therapists to receive a license.
I started teaching massage right away and created Wellspring Massage combining deep tissue with energy balancing using slow meditative strokes that slowly releases tension and allows me to release tissues that have been tense due to trauma or injury.
I studied Myofascial Release at Parker Chiropractic school in Dallas and specialized in Myofascial Release therapy before moving to Illinois where I was introduced to Naprapathy. As a Doctor of Naprapathy I am considered a Connective Tissue Specialist, so my entire career has been about the Soft Tissue Work, which is a cornerstone of Naprapathy, and alignment and balance, which is key in any yoga practice.
Balance poses help build bone, improve nervous system function and improves muscle strength as well as relaxation. As a yoga therapist I use yoga poses for rehabilitation with every patient. I also feel that diet is key to nourishing the body and certain minerals and vitamins contained in vegetables will help relax muscles and remove lactic acid build up
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 had started massaging my brother when I was about 14 years of age when he was a gymnast. When I was in college my husband and I found the book on Massage and began to practice on each other. Eventually we got friends involved. I never took the time to look at how to make a massage table or getting a career in massage.
Then in 1980 I was visiting a massage therapist for back aches and he suggested that I would make a good massage therapist too. That surprised me, so I looked at the want ads in our local paper and found a woman looking for inexperienced massage therapist and applied. That was in 1983 and by 1984 I was one of the first massage therapy clinics open in our area.
I was a graphic artist when I found my first massage job. I kept working as a legal secretary and doing administrative work during the weekdays while I built my practice. At one point I had several private clients and made more doing massage than I could working in an office. So I made a conscious choice to become a full time self employed massage therapist in 1991.
I began to build a practice at my home, and I opened my massage school at the same time. My goal was to make enough money to support myself so that I could take time off whenever my children needed me for their activities and I could take vacation days anytime I wanted. Especially my birthday.
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.
It was very questionable about how to advertise my business. The illegal massage parlors were very busy in our area and the only place to advertise a massage business was side by side with these sexually oriented massage businesses. I was required to put my license number in my advertisements so that clients could distinguish me as a legitimate massage therapist and I screened every phone call for months.
Eventually we were able to get the law established in Texas and massage parlors could no longer use the word massage, so they became less of a threat. I came into this profession from a spiritual approach, and I just asked the Universe and God to bring to me the clients who would appreciate my form of therapeutic massage. It worked for me.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
I specialize in Myofascial Release and Deep Tissue therapy. I created Wellspring Massage which integrates these types of modalities along with CranioSacral Therapy and Energy Balancing. Then I continued with my education and graduated in 1999 with a Doctorate in Naprapathy, a connective tissue specialist.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I have always focused on the Soft Tissue as the leading cause of pain, tension, and discomfort. When I worked with clients I began to see tissues release and fibers stretched with gentle pressure. I went back to college to learn more about neurology and learned more detail about how the stretch response works. That is what lead me to pursue a doctorate in the field I loved, soft tissue and connective tissue.
I prefer to use gentle pressure while getting deep results; not causing more pain in order to release tissues. Naprapathy is a gentle technique that uses vibration, tissue stretching and realigns the body structure in so doing. Pain ceases and circulation increases bring the patient more relief, better strength and lowers blood pressure.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
I love the holistic approach to health. I became an ordained minister in 1991 after years of study regarding how thoughts affect the body. We can have a trauma and carry the emotional fears within our tissues, even though we rebuild and become new as cells renew every few years.
I learned that emotions take much longer to heal and patients needed a safe environment to allow their emotions to release. I help provide a safe comfortable environment and a peaceful compassionate attitude towards them so that the tissues are ready to release and let go.
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 see better insurance coverage for all massage and bodywork modalities. We are keeping patients out of the hospitals and more productive at work so our work has merit.
I believe massage therapy should be a private therapy that does not require a physician referral and as a first choice therapy it should be covered by insurance, much as physical therapy is covered.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I have practice massage therapy since 1984. I studied Myofascial Release in 1995, then moved to Chicago suburbs and enrolled in the Naprapathic program, graduating in 1999 with a doctorate. I feel I have come full circle.
I incorporate other soft tissue modalities such as reflexology and craniosacral therapy. By doing gentle work the patients enjoy their therapy and I plan to continue working well into my 80s or longer.
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 own a mini farm and love gardening. I am opening another business that will specialize in supervised detoxification programs. I do not see this is another job, but as an extension of health related to diet. I have not worked full time in quite a long time.
I make enough money working one or two days a week to support my practice. I am also starting an on line business and using social media to educate people on the benefits of healthy food and lifestyle and create another string of income.
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 really did “do it my way” so I cannot think of any mistakes that I made. The economy has definitely changed and I saw a reduction in the number of clients at those times. But as I mentioned earlier I have always had a spiritual approach to my business and my life and ask for the right people to show up.
Success is doing what you love, and doing it so well that people pay you for it. When I was teaching I never felt it was a failure when I had no students in a semester. I thought of it as a time for me to go to school.
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 always offered prospective students an opportunity to come and receive a Wellspring Massage. That helped them actually get a feel for the kind of massage they would be learning to give. It also helped them to understand their instructor better. I had a 100% conversion for anyone who took me up on my offer.
I think each student is different and has differing learning abilities. I recommend looking for a massage school with a good mentor program, and follows you after graduation to answer questions that will inevitably come up.
A good program requires that you not only practice on the public but also requires you to receive from other massage therapists. Receiving is a great way to learn.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
For anyone who cannot afford massage school, I recommend they get certified as a reflexologist. I offer an affordable weekend program that teaches the procedural steps. Once they complete their practice sessions for which they could receive donations, they are certified. Now they have a source of income that will help finance their education if they wish.
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?
First I would sell something else. The only way a massage therapist is going to succeed is to sell themselves. Sell candles, or vegetables, but sell something so the technique and speaking to others becomes easy. Speaking in public is very difficult especially since massage therapy is a one to one practice.
Take your passion to the public; it is also a great way to increase your clientelle. Create a business plan that is realistic; total cost of doing business can be low but the hidden costs could catch you off guard. Budget for all the unexpected expenses and keep a Financial Freedom Account of around 3 to 6 months expenses for those times when the economy is recovering or clients are not coming in; it happens all the time.
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?
Massage is a wonderful profession and I still feel we just do not have enough good qualified massage therapists in our field. This is due to the poor quality of massage schools who have popped up just wanting to take our money and teaching low class curriculum. It is up to our industry to demand better training, better insurance coverage, and continue learning.
Massage has become a medical model, but the spiritual approach is just as important and growing too. I would love to see massage integrated into a setting that values the human touch, the share of energy, and the health benefits of body, mind and spirit approach.
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 love to garden. I became a master gardener and love to share organic gardening skills with others. I live in a beautiful setting on a mini farm with a well that is spring water fed, next to Spring Creek. So I named it Spring Creek Holistic and my husband and I will live there enjoying our gardening and our pets.
I love to sing and I play several instruments, though not well. We love music festivals and we invite friends over to enjoy a weekend of camping and music on our property, or just sit around the bonfire and sing and have delicious meals together.
I also love to sew and do crafts. My husband and I did the rebuild on our farm house and I was able to use my creative ability from the graphic artist in me to design rooms and pick out interesting colors.
I teach yoga as another part of my professional life, but it is also part of my personal life. I am very passionate and fortunate to have my own yoga studio in my home. All of these keep me happy and healthy.