Less Chaos, More Massage.



, , , ,

chaos1Right now, this world, is crazy.  With the current events unfolding around us on a daily basis we are all working to thrive in a state of crises. Whether you know it or not, we are all coping in one way or another to deal with the surrounding chaos. No one is exempt. One way or another, everyone who is a human being and who is alive in this time is having to DEAL with the madness around us.

Helpers are needed more than ever. Helpers are the courageous people who are coping and dealing, by trying to help others cope and deal. This is a healthy and conscious way to manage what is going on. Helpers choose to be part of the solution, rather than focus on the negatively and the problems. Helpers bolster the survivors of these times.

Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers are Helpers. We work to make an immediate positive impact on the quality of people’s’ lives by providing rest and nurturing in a safe place to simply BE. We offer comfort and therapeutic touch. Some of our clients simply need to breathe, rest and receive a nurturing and relaxing massage. Others can benefit from a deeper treatment approach for musculoskeletal pain and discomfort. We adapt to the full spectrum of people and  we are here to help. Massage Therapy is holistic healthcare, meaning, the benefits of receiving massage therapy are emotional, psychological and physical. We are not just here to help our clients, but to help ourselves by giving our lives meaning and purpose in this wild world we call home.

Massage Therapists are wave makers. Our work has repercussions. We offer valid and skilled therapy for our clients and we make a positive impact immediately on their lives. After receiving massage therapy, our clients can’t help but be more present, and thus more consciously aware of their actions and reactions.  They leave their massage with a heightened sense of themselves and can be more in control of how they respond to the world around them. A client may be kinder to their employee, or their partner or their child after a receiving a massage because they are more connected to themselves. They have received comfort, nurturing and therapeutic attention from a massage therapist who has offered them unconditional positive regard, and time to just simply be taken care of.

If you are considering a career in massage therapy. Please find the school that is best for you and sign up right now and become a helper.

If you are a person who is suffering from the unreal stresses of your life, please make receiving massage therapy a NORMAL part of your life and watch how things get better.

If you are in the massage profession or industry, please take responsibility to support the profession by educating the public about the benefits of this career, and help bring the right people to this profession.

Jill Kristin Berkana LMT BCTMB


The World Massage Championship 2019 My Impressions – An unprecedented global professional community!

65443246_2423679111022961_1531238124007456768_n (1)INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES: I have just performed the duties of a Judge at the World Massage Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark and I am eager to share my impressions. To begin, I feel it necessary to share who I am so that you, the reader, understand the perspective I am coming from and why my opinion might matter. Here is my bio at the end of the article.

DISCLAIMER: Taking into consideration the melting pot of culture holding a mass of professionals who are coming from the broadest sample of schools of thought, I genuinely hope not to insult anyone. Please know that my perspective is that of the American Standard, as I know it to be, now, which has been established as it is at this point in time.

It has been one week since I attended the World Massage Therapy Championship and it has taken me as long to marinate the experience for thoughtful sharing. Additionally, the repercussions continue to show up in more and more celebration, connection, promotional opportunities explored by all, and some criticism.  As I have mentioned before, but I feel should be offered again, this is my perspective coming through my lens as a US based educator of entry level and advanced bodywork, a leader in the profession, with a nearly 30 year career as a Massage Therapist, trying to  hold to the highest standards as I know it them to be.

Several colleagues have brought it to my attention that they are disappointed and even insulted, if not angry at the thought of our profession having a championship competition. Here is why I understand this.  Many of us have worked extremely hard to correct the stereotyping that has oppressed our profession. The long-standing misperceptions of massage therapy have been that it is unprofessional, sex work, cosmetology/beauty based, or something frivolous and expensive that only the wealthy can enjoy as a luxury.

After incalculable investment of time, money, and effort, Massage Therapy has finally started to gain traction and be known as serious healthcare. This is due to the investment in evidence-based research, serious researchers working very hard and a community of therapists such as me who champion this cultural correction by educating and promoting massage therapy as legitimate healthcare.

The research is proving with real evidence that massage therapy, whether done in a hospital setting, a spa, a gym, or a massage therapist’s office etc. is promoting the improvement of health in a variety of ways. It improves the health of those with serious health challenges, and it is great for everyone who is healthy or on a path to improved wellness. It also supports athletic performance and really supports every type of performance in life, really.  The benefits are holistic meaning massage can and does address the mental, emotional and physical health of a person. Everyone can benefit from receiving massage therapy.

Allow me to repeat that in a different way. Massage Therapy is finally being recognized as legitimate healthcare and it does not matter how or where you (speaking to the MTs) do it, as long as it is being done ethically, and professionally by a trained professional. Massage is that good, and all of us involved in the field should help educate the public about these very real benefits.

I will just throw in here that we currently have an opioid addiction epidemic in the United States and Massage Therapy is now being recognized as a viable option for pain management of many conditions that opioids are being used to treat. This is happening right now. Not to forget the fantastic work being done in the realms of oncology and hospice care. I could go on and on. I am very passionate about being part of this important shift in the public perception for our profession. This shift is not coming easy.

Knowing where I am coming from should help inform you the reader why, when I initially saw that there was an international massage championship, I too had serious reservations and concerns. I was so concerned that a massage championship could be harmful to this reputation improvement effort that I looked into it deeper. The more I looked into it, the more my curiosity grew and I was inspired to reach out to the Founder to Volunteer to be a Judge and make the trip.

I was invited to come to this event. My intrigue was expanding beyond my concern. As the plans progressed and I was in the loop of developments, I saw that there were going to be more than 40 countries represented. My concern continued to diminished as I became more and more enthusiastic about the world survey of bodywork technique and approach I was going to witness and be part of.

Now that I have participated in the event what I feel strongly is the most predominant character of this project is not the competition itself, but great opportunity for community and education. The participants came from all over the world. All with diverse styles of working and differing educational backgrounds. Some were bringing with them thousands and thousands of years of history with their culture, modality and approach. It was a massage smorgasbord that you could never consume fully. A sample platter of technique describing ancient and modern innovation, invention, and creation within our beloved profession.

As for the competitors, there was love, camaraderie, people helping each other even though they were competing, curiosity and learning, sharing, hugs, and laughter! Nearly everyone there made 200 new friends who live all over the world. This bringing together of professionals with exposure to the techniques, modalities and approaches is unprecedented and I think awesome.

Now, having celebrated all of that, the event also brings together a cornucopia of not on the same page-ness with regard to standards of practice and what I know as basic and foundational rules of engagement.  When you have all of these massage professionals coming together from all over the world, you are also bringing together a huge spectrum of different professional culture, specifically with regard to ethics, client draping, hygienic practices, scope of practice, and client interactions. Being who I am, I was extremely challenged by this and had to open myself up to the reality of the situation at hand, that the world was being represented, not just my safe little school haven that I control with my iron fist in the velvet glove in Longmont, Colorado.

I will be blogging more about those differences later. To close this out, please know that I am still excited about this event. I do still have some concerns. I do not think having a massage competition compromises the perception of our profession as legitimate health care. I may be wrong, but these are my two cents and I have attended the event. I feel strongly that as the event matures, more basic standards will be introduced and made compulsory which will provide an outstanding opportunity for education for those competitors who are globally providing intentional therapeutic benefits through massage. I’m very happy and proud to be part of it. I hope I am able to continue and hope to support the evolution of the project.

The World Massage Championship 2019 My Impressions – How can one assess the effectiveness of a massage by observing?


Susan Findlay and Jill Kristin Berkana  – Photo Courtesy Ryan Hoyme


I have just had the great honor to perform the duties of a Judge at the 3rd annual World Massage Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark. I am eager to share my impressions. To begin, I feel it necessary to share who I am, so that you the reader can understand the perspective I am coming from and why my opinion might matter to the conversation. Here is my bio.

How can one assess the effectiveness of a massage by observing?

First we must consider who the viewer is. To have the ability to place value on a massage based on viewing, the observer must be a seasoned and comprehensive expert in the field. Otherwise, the viewer cannot properly assess, and should not assume to do so.

As an entry level educator, I have spent thousands of hours carefully watching my student therapists develop the skills required to become highly effective massage therapists. With that, I am qualified to assess the constitution of a massage visually.  My fellow judges in the Freestyle Western Massage Competition were equally as qualified.

If this still has you scratching your head, consider how instructors teach massage therapy and bodywork with demonstration. To question the educational and assessment value of observing massage therapy and bodywork being performed is to challenge how almost every instructor since the beginning of time has taught this work.

At a school, the faculty teaches the bodywork through demonstration. When the students then practice what they have seen, the instructors are carefully looking for and encouraging the following basics:

• Use of proper body mechanics
• Fluidity, continuity and therapeutic pace
• Self-Care practices
• Awareness of environment
• Equipment usage
• Noise control
• Immediate response and adjustment to client feedback
• Ongoing devotion to presence and connection
• Honoring the spaces between the therapist and client in all ways (comfort zone)
• Appropriate execution of technique
• Awareness and avoidance of endangerment sites and contraindications
• Maintenance of Hygienic Standards and Universal Precautions
• Artistic Expression within the boundaries of our Scope of Practice

As an entry level massage therapy educator, this is what my faculty and I are doing with our students to ensure they are developing into highly professional and legitimate therapists who are able to enter the field of Massage Therapy and Bodywork with our proud endorsement.

A qualified judge at the World Massage Championship is doing the same.  What every single contestant at the World Championship of Massage should embody and exemplify as second nature are the BASIC STANDARDS AND RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. This is especially important if they have branched out into Advanced Technique.

What about actually feeling the work?

Feeling the massage is by far the best way to assess the therapist’s skill and ability to provide effective treatment. At my institute and most massage therapy schools, student clients provide real feedback for the student therapists. Additionally, every client that receives in our clinic provides a written report for our student therapists to provide feedback which the student therapist can use to grow.

This is very similar to what happens at the World Massage Championship. After the Therapist has performed the massage, the client, who is another competitor /assumed professional expert and a massage therapist discretely provides the team of judges an overall grade to be factored into the entire point calculation.

How do the judges determine winners?

This is a point system. The Founder of the World Massage Championship and the IMA Advisory Board have determined a criterion for the judges to use as we are assessing the participants. I can only speak to the criteria for the Freestyle Western Room where I was working. The participants were judged on Technique, Client Connection, Ergonomics (Body- Mechanics), Innovation and the Clients Overall Impression. At least 4 judges and 1 recipient were involved in the determination of the participants overall assessment.

I hope this short article helps everyone understand the value of assessing by observation, and will clarify the assessment system in place for this event.

The World Massage Championship 2019 My Impressions – Introduction

65428331_2353370014930854_7241224881491148800_nI have just had the great honor to perform the duties of a Judge at the 3rd annual World Massage Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark. I am eager to share my impressions. To begin, I feel it necessary to share who I am, so that you the reader can understand the perspective I am coming from and why my opinion might matter to the conversation. Here is my bio.


I wish to congratulate all of the participants. What you have done here is awe-inspiring. You have taken your craft to the international stage to share your life’s passion and how you work. You made yourself vulnerable to be judged. This takes tremendous courage and drive.  I know that your investment of time, money, travel and intention is phenomenal and I applaud you! If I did not have the chance to meet you at the competition and give you feedback, I apologize. Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to be connected.

Taking into consideration the globe spanning representation, the melting pot of culture, holding a mass of professionals, who are all coming from the broadest sample of the profession’s schools of thought, I genuinely hope not to insult anyone, but to offer an opportunity for all of us to share, learn and grow.

Please know that my perspective is coming from that of the highest United States Standard, which I must exemplify, hold and teach. This standard is rapidly evolving due  to the profession’s investment in legitimate research, as we work toward a model of Massage Therapy as legitimate evidence informed healthcare.

I was skeptical and had great concerns about this competition because like many prominent stakeholders in the field have shared, I felt that having a world championship in massage therapy automatically lent itself to the following detriments:

  • Glamorizing the therapist in a client centered healthcare field where humility is paramount to appropriate and honorful execution.
  • Damage to the progressive and improved reputation of Massage Therapy as legitimate healthcare.
  • Enforcing the myth that massage therapy is prominently cosmetology and/or sport based and not legitimate healthcare.

While I had these reservations, I was also curious and excited to witness the techniques and approach of Therapists from around the globe and had respect for the International Massage Association for taking on this enormous living project.  I still have concerns and reservations, and I am still excited.  I’m involved now, and at least see an incredible opportunity for a global conversation with regard to standards of practice.

Now that I have participated in the 3rd year, I am clear that while this event is VERY young and there is room for great evolution, the overall experience is a positive one for our profession and has the potential to become a great asset. Please note that this organization is volunteer based.  This is important to consider and acknowledge while making judgments. Everyone involved who is spearheading this ambitious project have lives and careers to tend to, therefore, the evolution of a project such as this will take considerable time.

I am writing about my impressions extensively in short articles here on my blog. My sincere hope is that everyone who engages in this series will benefit and intentionally take advantage of the opportunity for professional inventory and evolution.

Since my expertise is in the realm of strong foundational practices and standard rules of engagement I will be addressing the stunning inconsistent global standards that I witnessed in the realms of:

  • Basic Rules of Engagement
  • Professionalism
  • Hygiene
  • Body-Mechanics
  • Client Communications
  • Confidentiality
  • Draping and Privacy
  • Therapeutic Presence
  • Universal Precautions
  • Contraindications and Endangerment Sites
  • Therapist Self Awareness
  • Maintenance of the Comfort Barrier/Zone
  • Honoring Therapeutic Relationship – Boundaries
  • Mindful Approach

While it is always easy to criticize differences, I know it is important to embrace and recognize the amazing opportunity to share, learn, and elevate our professional standards. This is why I am invested in this project.

Stay Tuned while I unpack my thoughts in this series, and please do become involved in the World Massage Championship and International Massage Association, an unprecedented gathering of international Massage Therapists and Bodywork Artists.

Wherefore Art Thou… Professional Ethics?


Every now and then I take a peek at the professional massage therapy boards on Facebook. Every time I do, I am astounded by some of the comments I see left by some Licensed Massage Therapists and/or Body-workers, and Massage Therapy and/or Body-Work Educators. It is deeply concerning. What I saw in the conversation tonight was so stunning that I had to write this. I would suggest that some of the Massage Therapists participating on these boards could spend LESS time on these boards and more time taking ethics classes.

I’m just guessing here, but many signs indicate on these threads that some of the participants had ethics in entry-level and then never took another ethics class after that. It also seems that if they did have an ethics class in entry-level, it was either a marginal class at best, or they simply forgot the important ethical rules of engagement they agreed to.

Another problem is ethics classes 20-30 years ago were non-existent or completely different from what we have now.  We didn’t have the internet or much regulation in those days, let alone testing, and some states don’t require continuing education in ethics for licensure renewal. This is very bad as it produces seasoned professionals who are operating ethically from the education they received 20-30 years ago.

Commonplace ethical violations seen all over these boards are: breach of confidence, discrimination, therapists out of scope, personalization of the therapeutic relationship, diagnosing, prescribing, promoting mythology and advising incorrectly to name a few.

A few reasons we as Massage Therapists and body workers need to take ongoing ethics classes are as follows:

  • Things shift and change. We want our profession to evolve, It IS evolving, and we need to evolve with it.
  • We will never know it all.
  • Our clients make themselves vulnerable whenever we work with them. We need to be as prepared as possible for the multitude of potential ethical dilemmas that can unfold before us, keep our clients safe, and protect ourselves and the profession.
  • We can do harm.
  • We are all representing the profession that is now respected as legitimate health care. We need to protect that by acting as ethical representatives. To do otherwise is to sabotage the gains.

If you are a practicing LMT or body worker and have not had an ethics class for several years, and/or failed to learn the basic ethical rules of engagement in entry-level, please, Please, PLEASE get up to speed NOW on your ethics, and continue to learn! Ethics classes are fun and no one knows it all. Those who think they do are a problem.

If you are a massage therapy and/or bodywork educator and you are not up to date on your ethics, your feet are to the fire because the damage you can do will multiply. It is critically important to get the ego in check so one can learn. Humility is critical for the ability to receive information and thus embody that information as knowledge.

Plenty of ethics classes right here at NCBTMB and you can even take some of them online!

It IS an ethical responsibility to continue to learn about ethics for the life of your career and it does not matter if your state does not require it for licensure renewal. It’s the right thing to do.

Jill Kristin Berkana

Founder/Director Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy

Jill K. Berkana LMT, BCTMB

You don’t need an excuse…but have plenty.

Massage-circle-sustainable-living-upward-spirals-diamante-centerWhen you receive a professional massage, you are receiving health care treatment by someone who has been trained in the art and science of therapeutic touch, and who is there for you completely.

Receiving this type of attention and nurturing will enhance your life in a multitude of ways.

Massage improves everything! When you receive professional massage therapy, you are encouraged to connect with yourself. When you connect with yourself you can feel more, contemplate the quality of your relationship to your self and to your life, shift your perspective and inspire a creative and positive outlook.

You can be thoughtful about everything, or rest your mind and consider nothing at all. You give yourself the opportunity to rest, slow down and connect. Additionally, you receive the long list of proven physical, mental, and emotional benefits that massage therapy provides.

When you consider all of that, are you not worth this investment in your life?

You can receive therapeutic massage from exceptional therapists across the country. Be selective when you decide who you will trust to touch your whole life. Not all Massage Therapists have the same training or skill set, and it will be important for you to connect with one who can best serve your specific goals.

If you are interested in working with a Berkana trained Massage Therapist, we have about 350 around the country; and of course, our Student Clinic in Prospect regularly welcomes the public to participate in our education, and receive outstanding bodywork from our students for about half the cost of a professional massage.

If you need more information, please feel free to reach out!  I hope you will schedule a massage for yourself today and know truly…you don’t need an excuse, but you have plenty. ​

“Located on the corner of Ionosphere and Tenacity…

head_img_worksmartThe Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy revealed today its massage therapy licensure program will relocate to Prospect New Town, Colorado as of July 2017. Plans to convert the current Lower Downtown Denver campus into a Massage Therapy Co-Op and Continuing Education Facility for NCBTMB Approved Providers and fellow Holistic Educators were also announced.

“Prospective students from Colorado and the entire nation seek out The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy for its pillars of excellence: A faculty of devoted experts, mindful and holistic approach, small classes, accelerated learning, and professionalism. Our exquisite environment also plays a large role in students’ desire to attend and bolsters their success,” explained Jill Kristin Berkana, founder and director. “As our licensure preparatory program strives to be on the cutting-edge for our rapidly evolving profession, it was time to find a new home that could match our holistic intent, and remain true to our core values. With wall-to-wall windows, endless natural light, beautiful architecture that borders a large public park, and the overall tranquility of the neighborhood, our new location will empower students to learn and grow in congruence with this progressive, mindful, and artistic community.”

Conveniently located on the corner of Ionosphere and Tenacity in Prospect New Town, the new Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy location resides on a bus line and off of a major highway. Students can easily commute from most of Colorado’s premier Front Range destinations in as little as 20-40 minutes. Such accessibility permits students to reside in nearby locations most affordable and appealing to their personal styles.

Named “The Coolest Neighborhood in the United States” by Dwell Magazine and winner of the Governor’s Smart Growth Award for its innovative alternative to suburban sprawl, the prime location in Prospect New Town provides ample parking, restaurants, and boutiques all within walking distance—establishing The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy as a true destination.

Pending approval from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Private Occupational School Board, the grand opening of the new Prospect New Town location is scheduled for Mid-July 2017. Courses for the entry-level program will begin in the newly-renovated space in Late-July 2017. Inaugural, class-only residents from Denver and further away will receive special incentives. Furthermore, a Student Clinic will be established shortly after to serve the Prospect and Longmont communities with affordable massage therapy.

Berkana described plans for the Denver location: “As The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy continues to align with the needs of the massage therapy and bodywork profession, we have not forgotten the wonderful city and people of Denver that helped establish our premier brand. For that reason, our Board of Advisors have agreed to convert the current LoDo location into a Massage Co-Op to further support our graduates and the greater community. In addition, we will dedicate a portion of the space to act as a Continuing Education Facility for local and international NCBTMB Approved Providers and fellow Holistic Educators.” Additional information regarding the plans to convert the Denver location into a Massage Co-Op and Continuing Education Facility will be released in the coming weeks.

About Prospect New Town

Prospect New Town is Colorado’s first New Urbanist community located on a former 80-acre tree farm in the southwest pocket of Longmont. Framed by snow-capped peaks and surrounded by farmland, it’s the perfect pocket of city in a rural setting. Locally owned restaurants and boutiques offer city chic with personalized, small-town service. It’s home to an array of lively, year-round events such as wine tastings, food trucks and cycling events. Intimate streets and walkways connect homes to numerous parks, shops and workspaces making it an ideal place to live and work.

For more information, please visit www.prospectnewtown.com.

About The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy

The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy is an nationally-recognized, accelerated, and premier Massage Therapy Licensure School dedicated to cultivating professional, competent, and compassionate bodywork artists in Colorado. The rigorous, 5-month program (offered in the Spring and Fall) is founded on a comprehensive curriculum, expert instruction, and state of the art equipment in a focused environment. Berkana students maintain an impressive 100% first-attempt success rate on the U.S. state licensing examination, the MBLEx.

The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy is an approved school through the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Private Occupational School Board, The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB), and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Additionally, the school provides top-notch Continuing Education for the profession and greater Berkana community as an Approved Continuing Education Provider through NCBTMB. The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy is approved by the VA to accept the GI Bill. Affordable tuition payment plans and opportunities for discounts are available.

For more information, please visit www.berkanainstitute.com.


Free Student Chair Massage? Nope!

NO FREEE STUDENT MASSAGESI have written this message about 3 dozen times in the last few years. This morning I started to write it again and so it seemed time to blog this out and save myself some time.

As a one-woman-show, massage school owner/operator I am only representing myself in this message, but I know many schools will echo my sentiments.

Every year I am approached by several companies who want my school to provide free student massages for their awesome and hard working employees. Most often the employers soliciting my school are non-for-profit providers of some kind of worthy service to the greater public; and so it seems reasonable that these workers should receive free massages from student therapists.

Your employees probably do deserve free massages, but the organization needs to budget and plan accordingly to pay for these real services.

There has been this broad misconception that somehow massage schools are in desperate need to have their students provide massage therapy in order to meet the clinical practicum requirements of their massage therapy educational program. The organizers/solicitors believe they are approaching the massage schools with a great opportunity for the students to work with their worthy group, and also get some much needed practice. Seems like a win-win! Nope.

Any legitimate massage therapy school is going to have everything set up to meet their students needs prior to opening the school. They have to in order to be approved by the regulatory bodies that are protecting the public. Additionally, most regulatory agencies require any new class location to be approved prior to taking students there, AND often that requires filling out a form, paying a fee, and then appearing before a regulatory board at the next board meeting. At least that is how it works for me in Colorado.

Reality Check! We can’t drop everything and on a whim pack up massage tables, chairs, linens, hygiene maintenance materials, forms, load it in a van…so our students can come massage your staff this coming Tuesday afternoon. Think about it. The students must have supervision, there is equipment, paperwork, travel, loads of people involved. This requires great effort and we can’t do it, and definitely not for free.

If you wish to provide massage therapy for your awesome staff who certainly do deserve it, please consider starting this conversation with a school a year in advance of an ONGOING arrangement, and find the funding in your budget to appropriately support the school’s efforts.

Alternatively, you can arrange with a school to buy a package deal of student massages in their student clinic, and I am sure they will give you a discounted rate.

Back in the day when there was very little regulation of massage therapy and massage education free student chair massage probably happened a lot. It is over now so please stop asking for free student massage in exchange for the great opportunity for our students to serve your community. You need to pay for massage… even if students are providing it, and you are participating in their education.

Massage Therapy and Integrative Healthcare: An Overdue Embrace


, , , , ,


“Medicine is like the Tai Ji. There are two theories of thought. But truly one does not exist without the existence of the other. They are intertwined as people try to make them a dichotomy.”       ~Brent Jackson

The intent of this blog post is to address and plead with the small and shrinking group of holistic health care practitioners, specifically massage therapists, who have a tendency to say negative things about western or traditional medicine to their clients, step out of scope with diagnoses and prescribing, and they do this all day long. I know this group well because 20 years ago, I was a full-fledged member.

This morning as I stand in my kitchen making breakfast, breathing and hungry, I’m reflecting on how many times traditional/western medicine has saved my life and the lives of my loved ones. My father, grandmother and brother have all suffered from serious bouts with Diverticulitis. My brother endured a temporary colostomy bag while his large intestine healed, and my dad had surgery to remove two thirds of his large intestine after years of suffering with chronic pain and acute flair ups of the disease. I recall his discomfort from time to time as a child, and watched him peel the sesame seeds off the top of his hamburger buns.

I’ve been a holistic health care professional for 27 years and counting, and a nutrition/natural medicine passionista for over 30, therefore, when I first started to have intestinal pain 22 years ago I decided to take matters into my own hands. This was also convenient because I did not have health insurance at the time. I did my research in naturopathic journals, read books on cleansing and fasting, talked with the experts at the health food stores and started a disciplined practice.  I have since done annual fasts coupled with intestinal cleansing for a week every year since I was 30. I have not had any significant problems, until now. This year the disease caught me. Seeing as I had done a short fast and cleanse 3 days prior to my attack it is possible that the cleanse itself is what exasperated and/or revealed my condition. I will never know. I will also never know if my lifestyle choices kept the disease at bay until now. What I do know now is I have it, I am fragile, and my life has been saved once again by western/traditional medicine.

While I was in the hospital I really wanted a massage. I was having horrible headaches due to the IV drugs saving my large intestine from rupturing, but no, sadly, there was no massage. While I was suffering an incredible wave of nausea with a completely empty stomach due to doctor prescribed bowel rest the nurse DID swirl her warm hand on my back which felt wonderful and comforting. She put lavender aromatherapy in the room, and cold washcloths on my forehead. They did allow my husband to come in and spoon me for an afternoon nap. This all was VERY powerful medicine, however, there was no massage therapist there to give me a much-needed neck and head massage. Why is that?

Some hospitals are finally providing massage therapy which is paid for by patient insurance and prescribed by the physician! With all my heart I thank the AMTA, the Massage Therapy Foundation, pioneers such as Ruth Werner, Xerlan Deery, Susan Salvo, Carole Osborne, Brent Jackson and too many others to mention for the progress massage therapy has made in the hospitals. Still, massage therapy is not fully integrated. Why is that?

Here is one prominent obstacle. There are still too many massage therapists practicing some form a shamanism, (for lack of a better word) making false claims about healing, telling clients to eat toxic essential oils, encouraging clients to forego doctor’s orders, diagnosing, and demonstrating to the greater medical community our profession’s inability to stay within its scope of practice and collaborate with consistent integrity and ethics. Sad.

Sadder still is most of the massage therapists doing this have positive intent and really think they are helping their clients! This is what they were taught in school by their beloved mentors, and now… some 20 -30 years later… they are telling the same very old story. Some of these folks are teachers and continuing to propagate the mythology and lack of professional boundaries.

Massage Therapists in every single inch of the United States should be required to take a certain amount of continuing education to renew their license including at the very least professional ethics and research competancy. Additionally, the Continuing Education providers absolutely should comply at a higher level so we know the people who are getting massage therapists up to speed, are up to speed. Last I heard, continuing education is only required for licensure renewal in 35-37 states.

If you are a massage therapist and you are not taking continuing education courses I hope this article will inspire you to pursue it for yourself and for your clients.  If you don’t like my message, please just take a moment to reflect on how many times traditional/westernized medicine has saved your life or the lives of your loved ones. Alternative Medicine is OUT  and Integrative Health Care is IN! It should not be us OR them but us AND them!

By no means am I saying that western/traditional medicine is perfect. Obvious to all of us paying attention, pharmaceuticals are completely out of control, along with health care costs. If massage therapy can get it together and collaborate with a high level of professional integrity we can position to replace at least some of the pills and surgery.

You should powerfully advocate for yourself and your body whenever you are submitting to healthcare of ANY kind. For example, the doctor wanted to give me one more bag of antibiotics and I told him, “too much medicine, not enough nutrition” and so, he put me on soft food before I took the next bag.

My journey with Traditional/Western Medicine:

  • In 1977 I had pneumonia and was saved by medical intervention
  • In 1988 my son was born via emergency C-Section after a 40-hour labor at home with midwives. The medical intervention saved both of our lives.
  • In 1995 I was in a horrific car accident and medicine did not keep me alive but kept me out of unbearable pain.
  • Medical Intervention repaired both my right big toe which I crushed under 300 pounds of wood in Costa Rica, and my thumb which was damaged in two car accidents. I am walking/running and doing powerful massage today.
  • 2017 – Doctors and medicine kept my large intestine from exploding.

Let’s face it, if you crush your leg, do you really want a shaman to chant over it and apply some tree sap? If you are a massage therapist, please do get up to speed and keep up. It’s not hard to do! Our profession is investing considerably in research and many new valid discoveries have been made! This is terrific news!

And if you have not yet got the memos:

  1. Massage Therapy is fine for healthy moms-to-be in the first trimester.
  2. Massage Therapy does NOT remove toxins.
  3. A new muscle has been discovered. See if you can find it.
  4. The parasympathetic nervous system may not govern the Sacral Plexus.
  5. Massage Therapy does NOT spread cancer.
  6. There is MORE! FIND IT!

Back in the day I would read a rune to each and every client at the end of their massage. I calculated their astrological charts to better understand how I could help them. I had crystals in my massage room and I still do because they are pretty. Today I believe in magic. I like to do ceremonies under the full moon, and I’m known by family and friends (not clients) for my special “white witch flu brew” around cold and flu season. I cut my teeth on the mystical, and I also know it’s high time massage therapy really honor the boundaries of our profession so we can work with and support the healing of those who need it the most.

Here is some powerful work all massage therapists should read:

Tracy Walton’s “5 Myths and Truths about Massage Therapy”

The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function and Pain

Here are easy ways to stay connected to what is new:

The Massage Therapy Foundation

The American Massage Therapy Association

Research Perch

Showing up late to your Massage


, ,

lateI am a massage therapy educator, former practicing massage therapist of 20,000 plus hours and a mentor of over 300 graduates. Now you know why I’m exposed to, and experienced with this subject matter.  Let’s move on.

This article is not for me, and it is not for my graduates, but for the thousands upon thousands of clients our profession serves. Let’s talk about time management in massage therapy. My goal is to share with clients the perspective of massage therapists with regard to time and how it works in massage land.  This article is not intended to be an insult or to offend anyone in any way, but to educate the public on the unique perspective we massage therapists have with regard to time.

When we train to become your massage therapist, we crank our awareness of time management up to a level that is not normally understood or practiced in a lot of professional cultures. Specifically, we start to pay attention to not only the minutes of the hour, but the seconds of the minutes. When we come in to work to provide massage therapy for you, the person who reserved our time, we come in early to ensure the following:

  • The environment is prepared for you in every way.
  • We are mentally and emotionally prepared to devote ourselves to this time to serve you an awesome bodywork experience.
  • The condition of the drapes on the table (sheets) are hygienically and aesthetically prepared for you.
  • All odors or aromas in the room are neutralized.
  • The temperature of the room is comfortable for a person who is relaxing.
  • The song list that is prepared to play for you is at the appropriate volume to swiftly support your journey to bliss.
  • Our fingernails are extremely manicured so that we do not scratch you.
  • The amount of cream or lotion that we have is appropriate to meet your needs.
  • We have the water poured for you and for us.
  • We have flossed and brushed our teeth again because we had lunch or breakfast and don’t want to offend you in anyway.
  • We may have tended to  some other important hygienic and/or health concerns such as used the bathroom, washed our hands and arms, blown our noses, put on more deodorant, used a cat hair roller to remove any fluffs off our garments etc.
  • We make sure that the space is tidy, hygienically prepared, presentable, well equipped and pleasant for you in every possible way we can think of.

Once we know all of that is covered in advance of your arrival, we start to watch the clock and wait for you to arrive. We may do some deep breathing or stretching in preparation. We know we have exactly as much time as you have asked us for to provide a wonderful treatment for you. We are planning in our minds eye around that time. We have both agreed upon the price of our time together and that is to the minute, Folks.

When a client is late to a massage therapy appointment even by minutes, stress starts to bubble up for the massage therapist. The treatment will not only be shorter, but may be impacted by the stress experienced by the Massage Therapist. When you are late to your massage concerns begin to arise such as: Are they okay? How am I going to get it all done? Did I make a mistake in my calendar? Since I have to charge them for my time which they have scheduled, are they going to resent me when I have to charge them for the time I am spending waiting for them? Will I finish on time and have enough time to get the room ready for my next client? Or to pick up my child from Kindergarten? Or to miss traffic? Or, Or, Or? One late arriving client can create repercussions that effect the quality of the entire day for the Massage Therapist.

People are late and life is messy. Your massage therapist may at one time or another be late too. We all understand this. People are not robots. It may help you to know that this is not a comfortable situation for you OR your massage therapist no matter how unruffled they react when you are late. Their job is to conserve all potential for your therapeutic experience.  Your late arrival not only increases YOUR stress, but that of your massage therapist. We are paid for the time that you have reserved with us. The time you pay for does not begin when you arrive, but begins when the time you scheduled us to be working with you arrives. Additionally, we don’t want clients running through the door and launching onto the massage table without proper intake time. This starts to conflict with our ethical responsibility to perform a thorough intake with you before the hands-on work begins.

Some massage therapists will not practice a strict timing discipline, but most do, and all should. For our profession this is a measure of professionalism. For those who do keep strictly to the clock, please do your very best to be at least 5-10 minutes early for your massage so that you can receive the most benefit from your skilled massage therapist who is not compromised by the stress of a late arriving client. Consider distance and traffic patterns. Plan the rest of your day accordingly.

If you are going to be late, please text or call your massage therapist right away so they don’t have to imagine what is going on. Make sure you understand and agree to the policies your massage therapist has for missed appointments, late arrivals, sickness and emergencies.

Your massage should be a wonderful and life enhancing experience. It’s fantastic that you are taking this time for yourself to receive the benefits of therapeutic massage! You will receive immediate positive results from practicing this form of self-care. Be sure you get the maximum benefit by planning accordingly so that you can be on time to your session and prevent a late arrival from compromising your intended goal to feel much better.

Jill Kristin Berkana

Founder/Director Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy and Bodywork Passionista