As I wrote on my Home page, my Mission is to help your body rediscover its own healing path, and support it along the way. Below are the cornerstones of my philosophy on how to get there. Some aspects have been a part of who I've always been, some I had to acquire and hone along the way.
And I'm not done yet...
I'm not a new-agey kinda' guy.
My mother was a hippie, so maybe there're some genes in my DNA waiting to be expressed, but you're not going to find hemp sheets, incense, or patchouli in my office. And when it comes to life, science, and bodywork, I believe there's plenty room within the established model of the universe and physics to accommodate a whole realm of bizarre phenomena. I don't feel a burning need to invent or describe entirely new systems of energy.
There's also quite enough uncertainty within the Medical Body of Knowledge to allow for many different perspectives on what healing methods are best. That said, it's important for a massage therapist to have a fairly sophisticated understanding of anatomy and physiology, as described by modern medicine, before branching out into alternate models.
In my training (and through personal treatments sought), I've been exposed to many sensory experiences that have baffled and amazed me (but no more so than lightning did the Greeks, I imagine). Some I've pursued and incorporated into my skillset, some merely shaken my head at in wonder. I've also failed to experience the fantastic nature of many other bodywork systems utilized by some of my colleagues whom I trust and respect, and whom I'm fairly certain aren't totally bonkers.
In a nutshell, I've taken elements from other disciplines and incorporated or discarded, based on how effective they've been for me (as a therapist). I'm also constantly trying new approaches. Despite our anatomical similarities, we are each a unique pattern of the physical and emotional, and a truly therapeutic perspective needs to accommodate these differences. The words "therapy" and "cookie-cutter" are mutually exclusive in this respect.
Science plays a big role in what I do and how I look at the body, therapy, and the universe. And when it is inadequate to address the depths of complexity involved in our issues, I don't hesitate to seek beyond it.
Sensitivity for a massage therapist has to be expressed on many different levels. There's nearly always an emotional component to every session, even if it's merely the trust the client is giving the therapist. Other times it can run quite deep, as in cases of severe injury and trauma, or a past history of abuse.
There's a need for physical sensitivity as well, given our individual uniqueness; there's a great deal of variation in how we perceive, and react to, stimulus. Being able to seek out and find the spaghetti-thin strand of tension within a muscle, or the slight hitch in a shoulder's range-of-motion; these are the meat and potatoes of and effective massage session.
Close your eyes and hold a tennis ball and an orange, one in each hand. Feel the differences in resilience, surface texture, regularity of shape. Now wrap them in a thick blanket and see if you can make the same differentiation. Can you still feel the dimpled surface of the orange, the seams in the tennis ball? Can you tease out the difference in density without reducing one to juice? This is the beginnings of sensitivity required to find, and feel the changes in, areas of tension and dysfunction in the body.
As soon as you walk in the door, we start a conversation that doesn't end until you walk out. It starts out obviously enough, with a chat about your needs and expectations for the day's session, but then it continues on the table, sometimes verbally. The descriptions you have for how you feel and how you got that way are hugely important, but they're rudimentary, at best. It's because you're trying to put into words a feeling, which I am then trying to interpret and relate to, and devise a plan to deal with. And if you've ever had an argument with a spouse, friend, or partner, or played Telephone, you understand just how quickly language can become inadequate or misunderstood. We're not mind readers, and I'm sure we usually prefer it that way.
Fortunately, when it comes to a therapeutic dialog with your body, words aren't the only medium available. If you know how to ask, there's a wealth of information that is there for the sharing.
Your body keeps within it a record of every injury or trauma that you've experienced, small and large. Some are as vivid as this morning's breakfast, others merely echoes of the past, but they're there. And the body gives pretty good feedback on how to proceed (most of the time). This still doesn't make me a mind reader, by the way; the details of your life are always yours to reveal or reserve, as you wish.
There's a point in therapy when just "knowing your stuff" isn't enough. You see it with music as well: a musician can be technically brilliant, execute perfect pitch, and flawlessly represent every note on the sheet. And while doing so, can completely miss the expression of the piece, the soul of it. Something more is needed; a feeling or sense of putting their self into it.
Massage therapy can be the same way. A therapist can utilize an array of impressive techniques, have the temperature of the room just right, use the softest sheets, and still have the massage feel, well... "meh." Intuition is the best way I can describe what is missing. That sense that your therapist knows not only how to locate your trouble spots, but how to address them in a way that feels fluid, effective, and natural. A way of responding to your body's cues that goes beyond an if/then checklist. It goes hand-in-hand with communication and sensitivity, and when an experienced therapist brings them all together, the experience is remarkable.