Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020

Issue link: http://www.massageandbodyworkdigital.com/i/1299745

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 71 of 106

C h e c k o u t A B M P P o c k e t P a t h o l o g y a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / a b m p - p o c k e t - p a t h o l o g y - a p p . 69 The Healwell team and our partners owe a deep debt of gratitude to Hunter Groninger, Anne Keleman, Shana Jacobs, Catriona Mowbray, Wendy Miner, Bodhi Haraldsson, Barrie Cassileth, Ania Kania, Marja J. Vehoef, Anthony Porcino, Brent Jackson, Carolyn Tague, Karen Armstrong, Johnnette duRand, Erica Larson, Maggie King, Liza Dion, Regina Cobb, Tara McManaway, Robin Bellatoni-Anderson, Ruth Werner, Jerrilyn Cambron, Amanda Baskwill, Niki Munk, Ann Blair Kennedy, Donelda Gowan, and so many others for their groundbreaking work and dedication to science and massage therapy. factors influenced by human connection that can be hard to quantify. Many of the symptoms patients complained about (lack of peace, need for companionship, difficulty coping, and lack of touch) are things that cannot be reasonably addressed by pharmacology or equipment. And this is where I get really excited. Beyond the assertions of patients who reported that therapists were "caring" or "nice," or that there was a "connection," there were further details about how this sense was achieved. Patients reported an appreciation that massage therapists have the ability to essentially "read the room." They didn't remark that therapists were funny or offered great conversation, or that they were entertaining. The interviews revealed that it was the therapists' ability "to talk or to not talk" and to simply be with the patient that allowed them to feel connected and cared for. I have a somewhat stubborn bias toward the idea that shutting up is one of the most important skills of any care provider. When we talk about "properly trained practitioners," it's worth noting that the training to which we refer is about 15 percent hands and 85 percent ears and heart. Training a person to understand that they can't fix the suffering they see with their eyes—and they feel under their hands—is no easy task. I imagine I would get enthusiastic nods of agreement from my hospital-based massage therapy education colleagues on this point. You must know what a port is and what a PEG tube is and what PRN means, but if you think you're going to lessen the pain score of a person whose sternum was just sawed through for an emergency surgery 24 hours ago, nobody in that dynamic will be successful. If, instead, you think you're going to make the pain a little more bearable, you might be onto something. As massage therapists, we must show up, which takes so much unlearning it hurts just to think about it. Showing up is what makes therapists who have ears like antennae, hearts like canyons, and mouths that know when to wait insanely capable of facilitating an experience of massage therapy that delivers on the true promise of the discipline. CHARTING A NEW COURSE In our study, we reached back to research that measured patient experience in chaplaincy, psychotherapy, and social work encounters and found that "comfort, contact, connection, and caring" were common themes that were noticed and appreciated by patients—but were also noted as lacking in most health-care encounters. If the health-care system were filled with kind, compassionate, and mindful providers, massage therapy would still be valuable. There is a lot of work for all providers to do, in terms of realizing these human- centered, heart-centered skills, and massage therapists have incredible potential to model and normalize these aspects of care. At the end of the day, we have to create and engage in research that measures the value of massage therapy, but also more specifically the value of massage therapists. We have to be willing to loosen our grip on the value of mechanical technique and learn to embrace the deep benefits of bringing our whole selves to the table, the bed, the chair, or wherever care is needed. Notes 1. Anne Kelemen et al., " 'I Didn't Know Massages Could Do That:' A Qualitative Analysis of the Perception of Hospitalized Patients Receiving Massage Therapy from Specially Trained Massage Therapists," Complementary Therapies in Medicine 50 (August 2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102509 2. National Cancer Institute, "distress," in NCI Dictionaries, accessed September 2020, www.cancer.gov/ publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/distress. 3. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, "NCCN Distress Thermometer and Problem List for Patients," March 11, 2020, accessed September 2020, www. nccn.org/patients/resources/life_with_cancer/ pdf/nccn_distress_thermometer.pdf. Cal Cates is an educator, writer, and speaker on topics ranging from massage therapy in the hospital setting to end-of-life care and massage therapy policy and regulation. A founding director of the Society for Oncology Massage from 2007– 2014 and current executive director and founder of Healwell, Cates works within and beyond the massage therapy community to elevate the level of practice and integration of massage overall and in health care specifically. Cates also is the co-creator of the podcast Massage Therapy Without Borders.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Massage & Bodywork - NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020