Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 27 stories in our heads about why and how our clients come to find themselves in need of what we do. We use our "stories" to decide who is worthy and who is going to "get better" because of us and our guidance. And often our clients "tell on themselves" and reinforce their failings to these cultural beliefs. That doesn't make them true. It just proves how indoctrinated we all are into the false healthy/unhealthy binary. Awareness is required to dismantle these systems. Turning the mirror on ourselves comes first. Notice, does this make me uncomfortable? Am I justifying my categorization of clients in terms of "likely to benefit" or "not for me"? Please just sit with that. Awareness is an incredibly powerful start to this work. Perhaps the greatest service we each can offer is to stop telling these wrong, judgment-based, hierarchical stories to ourselves so others can see there are better, more accurate, more compassionate healing stories available. 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 podcasts Massage Therapy Without Borders and Interdisciplinary. I didn't mean to simplify the incredibly complex issue of stress. I didn't mean to blame people who suffer from, and with, stress. But what I meant to do is irrelevant. My intention and my impact are not related in the way I wish they were. Unfortunately, we all do this. Without noticing, we miss the point and perpetuate harmful systems and ways of thinking every day. When it is pointed out to us, we say, "I didn't mean it," and we move on feeling absolved of impact because we did not intend the harm we caused. The ways people are—the things I labeled in my column last issue as "habits" and "behaviors" that lead our clients to seek out our care—are not the result of free will. We are products of our culture and our privilege (or lack thereof ), supersized with a bonus of history, genetics, and public policy. We find our clients (and ourselves) in pain, discomfort, and disconnected from their bodies. Our ideas, and the so-called choices they inform related to movement, food, or lifestyle, are inaccurately seen as each person's fault. We dismiss and devalue the people we have chosen to care for. We say that "poor choices" are the problem, and we go on feeling "right," as we provide insensitive care to people who are "wrong." These ideas are deeply, insidiously, and harmfully implanted and upheld by the culture in which we live. We (often unconsciously) use these ideas to support a hierarchy of who "deserves" and will "benefit" from our care. We use them when we think about our clients and what stands between them and the elusive experience of "wellness." We believe we know what's necessary to be "healthy," and we tell I didn't mean to simplify the incredibly complex issue of stress. I didn't mean to blame people who suffer from, and with, stress. But what I meant to do is irrelevant.

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