Sometime when people hear that I am a massage therapist, they try to bargain for a lesser fee. They want to see how cheaply I will sell my services, and they will brag about how they got massages for $39, $49, $59 at Massage Envy or through Groupon. My dear client, Jeanne, who greatly appreciates seasoned professional touch, encouraged me to blog about the value of excellent medical massage.
So here you go, why I believe professional massage therapists should be fairly compensated for our skill and expertise and why massage for medically complex people is not comparable to a standard rub down. The basic points I will be making are these:
I DON'T CHARGE $39 FOR MASSAGE BECAUSE -
I'd like to discuss each of these points ....
I love my profession. Every time I teach a group of licensed massage therapists (LMT's), I realize how they can be some of the most giving human professionals- dedicated to personal growth and healing, That is why I cannot in good conscience support a mentality that devalues practitioners and the profession. Do you know that massage factories packaging 'massage in a box" typically keep half (or more) of the fees you pay? Most bodyworkers last only a few years in the industry because of injuries and burnout? I cover this more in my book; Body Mechanics and Self Care Manual).
One can only do a limited number of deep tissue, rehab. oriented, and medical massages in a day and maintain the highest quality. At $39 and often less per hour, with no benefits, like retirement and health care, sick leave and vacation, self respecting massage therapists cannot support ourselves and our families and suffer severe burnout. Unfortunately, LMT's who work under these conditions are not always able to maintain a high standard of service. Clients might not feel the massage is helpful. This is a negative reflection on the profession. You can see what a few former customers of a typical 'warehouse massage factory have to say about their experiences by visiting http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/directory/massage-envy.
I have pride in my status as a woman in business. Most women are in business for themselves so they can be in control of their income and lifestyle goals. Yet women as a whole still earn less than men. In fact, women’s-to-men’s earning ratio has been in the 80-81% range since 2004. One reason women in business are still earning less than men is that female entrepreneurs and business owners sometimes doubt our value and self-worth, and that is reflected into business fees or prices. My dream can quickly fall to the wayside if I don't charge what I am worth. Nobody wants to work with someone who doubts herself enough to undercut services.
I want to model how it is possible to make a good life providing good service to others - making others feel better, healthier, more empowered. I want my son to see that it is possible to make a living doing something meaningful, and doing it with integrity. I want him to see his mom make it doing work that she loves.
Deep relaxation and healing requires safety and trust that can only be supported my someone who knows what to do from experience and integrity. I have taught in massage schools since 1992, and you will not believe what I encountered in classrooms. Some students go into massage school to work out personal demons and try to hurt others physically or are sexually inappropriate. There is pressure to pass these so-called therapists onto the community. And although I always fought to keep the massage environment safe and professional, sometimes I lost the battle.
Comparing my bodywork to a novice who has just gotten out of massage school is like comparing apples to oranges. The heart of a good LMT is seasoned and honed as she lives a full human life and adds to her clinical experience each year. My clients appreciate the superior service that comes from 20+ years in the field. In the end, they understand that by paying a fair price for excellent bodywork, we both win. My hands successfully solve complex problems for them that confound less tested therapists.
Medical massage is an advanced manual therapy practice. Just like doctors have residencies to develop special areas of expertise, I have training and experience far beyond the basics. I am nationally certified and have logged over 2000 hours in advanced trainings. I have put in many years perfecting specialized manual tools - craniosacral, myofascial, lymphatic, visceral and qigong therapy. Each advanced modality adds a new approach and options to my toolbox to help my clients heal. I know how to touch people who hurt. http://www.marianwolfedixon.com/massage.html
Complex medical issues require additional sensitivity, experience, education and strong critical thinking skills.
Massage therapists with training in evidence-based medicine are few and far between. The greatest gift of my post graduate Research Fellowship in Complementary Medicine is the learning how to read critically what works for the most people, what is replicable, and what is safe. but not only can I analyze the aggregate, I understand how to adapt my work to benefit you. I also can weigh whether alternate therapies may enhance bodywork or be a better solution in certain cases I know how to touch people who hurt. I know how to titrate treatments to adapt to medications or upcoming procedures. I know how to treat multiple complaints, such as people living with cancer who are plagued with insomnia or digestive issues.
You don't have to take my word about this. See what clients are saying about me.
A final word - if you really want to get a $39 massage from me, take advantage of my refer a friend offer.
Thanks for listening -
Marian Wolfe Dixon
MA, LMT (OR #3902)
NCTMB Approved Provider
Continuing Education for Massage Therapists, CHt, TCMBB.