Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2022

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Daily, massage therapists on social media make an announcement such as, "My client is having trouble [X]. Her doctor says it is [Y], but I suspect it isn't that at all. What do you think this is, and how should I treat it?" Immediately, therapists start weighing in with their opinions. Although they have only a couple of sentences from the therapist to go off, have had no personal contact with the client, and no contact with the client's physician, there will be a dozen diagnoses before you can hit "enter" on the keyboard. There will also be many people claiming that what they do is just what the client needs to take care of this problem: • "It sounds like a injury. I would do active isolated stretching before doing any deep tissue massage." • "I think it's . Bowen therapy is the best way to treat it." • "I'm sure it's because my mother has it. The only thing that helps her is essential oils." • "My neighbor had the same problem. I did Rolfing on her and she's fine now." What's wrong with this picture? First of all, the client already has a diagnosis from a doctor. Assuredly, doctors are not infallible, but they have gone through at least 12 years of education to become one, while most massage therapists have an education of anywhere from six months to two years. Hardly a comparison. Second, a doctor is legally allowed to diagnose. Massage therapists are not. Third, doctors are trained (and legally allowed) to prescribe medications, physical therapy, massage, surgery, or whatever they deem the client may need. Massage therapists are not. Every time this happens, we are going outside our scope of practice. We are also showing our bias by claiming that whatever we do is going to help the client. If a physician happened to read these posts, it would give doctors a bad image of massage therapy and those who practice it. It is pretentious and ridiculous of us to assume we know more than a doctor, and to assume that whatever we might do is going to be the breakthrough treatment that the doctor didn't give the client. If you truly believe a client received an incorrect diagnosis, the appropriate thing to do is suggest they seek a second doctor's opinion, especially if it is a potentially serious matter. Refrain from diagnosing in the massage room and on social media, and get rid of the "I am a healer, and I am sure they need " mindset. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition. Allen lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. 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 89 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK Diagnosing and Bias: Stop the Insanity By Laura Allen TAKEAWAY: MTs should avoid telling clients what they think their problem is, especially if the client already has a diagnosis from their physician.

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