Berkana Institute, Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy, Berkana Instiute of Massage Therapy, Jill Berkana, Jill Kristin Berkana, Massage Therapy
Dedicated to Pam Thayer
by Jill Kristin Berkana 12-18-22
Berkana Institute, Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy, Berkana Instiute of Massage Therapy, Jill Berkana, Jill Kristin Berkana, Massage Therapy
Dedicated to Pam Thayer
by Jill Kristin Berkana 12-18-22
30 Friday Sep 2016
Posted Tidbits from the Massage Mammain
I 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:
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.
21 Saturday Mar 2015
I was thinking about this today when it came out of my mouth with my step kids. The two girls have birthdays right next to each other and when the first birthday comes, the second kiddo is always sure to say things like “are you going to remember pizza for MY birthday TOO?” or “ Daddy, don’t forget when MY Birthday comes I want the PURPLE dinosaur” etc.
The second child will even try to wrangle the attention of the party goers and take control of the scene. Here is when I say. “Hey, don’t steel your sister’s thunder. Your birthday is right around the corner and that day will be all about you. Let her have THIS day!”
This behavior is a classic power/attention struggle. I see it play out at my Institute with my students and my Instructors, on social media, as well as in the Massage Therapy Profession. I see it in myself too. This is actually one of my great lessons still to learn. As a child, I would literally stand up in front of the television and act out and sing the entire Gilligan’s Island theme song while the family yelled at me to move out of the way. As you can see, I want you the reader’s attention RIGHT NOW, and that is probably why I am I writing this blog.
WHY does one feel the need to be sarcastic, make passive aggressive remarks or step on someone else’s toes for their own immediate ego gratification? What is it about needing attention that leads us to unsavory and selfish behavior?
These moments can play out in group settings in some of the following ways:
The very basic practice of mindfulness and being aware of how you respond, (or better yet noticing how you WANT to respond prior to responding) in a group or team setting will help you uncover why you feel the need to grab some power from the moment. It is okay to grab some power from the moment, but it’s not okay to do that in such a way that is hurtful or demeaning to others. This negative expression of power tripping, however subtly done, happens a lot and serves no one.
I don’t claim to know what motivates anyone other than myself. I want to feel important. I want to feel special. I want to feel like my contribution matters. I want to feel love and appreciation. I’m guessing this, at the bottom of the barrel, is what motivates most of us to vie for some type of recognition.
Noticing this behavior in others, and being annoyed by it, I’m going to turn my attention to where I can create change. I’m going to look at me. I’m going to breathe, watch my thoughts, and when I’m having an especially MINDFUL moment, bite my tongue when I want to add something to the conversation that really does NOT help, can hurt, and only serves to bring attention to myself.
In a world where no one is free from dysfunction, all we can do is try.
On a walk one day in the jungle several years ago, one of my beloved students shared this quote with me: “Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?” – Sai Baba
May we all take this brilliant advice to heart, shower love and attention on ourselves and those around us so all may feel satisfied and filled up enough to enjoy a moment of just being in the silence, or letting someone else be in the spotlight sharing without our input.
18 Tuesday Nov 2014
Posted Tidbits from the Massage Mammain
Massage Therapy in the United States, is in a state of accelerated change, conflict and chaos. Up until 2008 I had been living in a vacuum having a very definitive idea of what massage therapy was, and assumed everyone, for the most part, was approaching it the same way I was taught to, and had been. In the last few years, I’ve been blessed to share with high level massage therapy professionals from all over the United States and beyond… and I would like to share the information I have assimilated, along with my unique historical perspective, and my opinion.
Where I am coming from: I went to Massage Therapy School at the “Harvard of Massage Schools” the Boulder School of Massage Therapy in 1990. I studied there for 2 years. While I was there, I was taught a great deal of science, ethics, bodywork, theory and holistic principles. The school had an emphasis on holism, and taught us that what we were thinking or feeling as we touched our clients would impact the quality of our touch, and what our clients would feel. For example, if I was thinking of the meatloaf I was going to make for dinner during my session, the client would feel I was not present. If I was thinking that my client had cellulite, the client would pick up on my judgmental energy. If I was thinking my client was attractive and I wanted to date him, my client may have a feeling of being violated or aroused. Made sense to me so I became vigilant over my thoughts when I worked, and did my best to stay present.
I had some instructors who were wild dreamers. I had instructors who had trained with the source of traditional modalities. I was taught ancient ideas and concepts that had no scientific evidence, but had been practiced and been helping people deal with the many different types of pain in life for over 5000 years. I learned a bit about Ayurveda, Shiatsu, quite a bit about Neuromuscular Therapy, MyoFascial Release, Swedish, and Integrative Massage Therapy. We learned about Rolfing, Structural Integration, Trager, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Bindesewebsmassage, etc. We learned about transference, counter-transference, projection, and coping. We learned communication skills, body centered therapy, and talked about sexuality. We learned about the human potential movement and our lineage to that group of visionaries. We learned about human disease, how to run our business, how to communicate, and how to move our bodies when we worked. We learned about honor and we learned that since we wanted to touch people for a living, we had to be extremely careful with our boundaries and our own emotional/mental/physical health.
I had instructors who trained me to “ground” myself so I would not pick up my clients energy. I had instructors who told us not to massage pregnant mothers in the first trimester of their pregnancy. I had instructors teach me that massage released toxins and the drinking water after the massage would help flush those toxins out of the body. I had an instructor teach me that sound carries energy and events leave energetic residue that can be diffused by sound. The same therapist used to “sing” the spine, whereas she would make the sounds she could hear in her head when she touched the spine in order to diffuse and open up the energy in that area and create change.
Many of my fellow students were choosing to specialize in energy work. That work was so intense it spooked the hell out of me, so I focused on the body. It was not ALL mystical and magical, there was a ton of college level science too and I carved my path. I was fortunate to train with people I would not hesitate to call Masters. School was exciting, challenging and fun and I bought it all, as did the other 300 or so international graduates per year coming out of that system for 30 years. Naropa University was right down the street teaching Transpersonal Psychology, so we all had access to mental/emotional processing. We were all processing our baggage all the time, and using new and alternative methods to achieve a greater sense of holistic health and wellness.
During this time, my mom owned a new age book store in Boulder Colorado. Her store was an iconic new age hub of information where people could find books on anything and everything from Aliens to Astrology to Crop Circles. There was always a psychic of some kind sitting in the corner ready to tell you the mysteries of yourself. Boulder was extra special in these days. Not unusual to go to a hear a trance channeler speak, and follow that up with a community hot tub experience to watch the aliens land behind the mountains on a first date. It was an era, and I was young and quite gullible. I WANTED and NEEDED there to be magic in the universe because life had been pretty tough. I was not in this desire alone. Many need life to have something MORE…to give us hope. We craved ceremony and community ritual. We craved spirituality and answers to the deep mysteries of life, and we found them. It was an era… and times change.
Flash forward into reality: My dad is a physician. He triggered my desire to help others and to explore the human body. I LOVE science. My DAD helped me latch onto that which is real and can be proven. I went into massage practice and the years went by. I ended up doing an enormous amount of massage therapy and my client’s needs and pain dictated that I became a deep bodyworker. In 1995 I was in a car accident and found that the work I needed to receive was of a core or deeper nature and I sought out therapists who had the ability to touch and manipulate the holding in my deeper core tissues. This continued to develop my propensity toward core tissue manipulation as a therapist.
I have gone on to massage all types of people for 25 years. I have not just touched their body, I have touched their lives. I have listened to them. I have been compassionate. I have seen clients through the death of their grandparents, the birth of their babies, graduate school, their divorce, their second marriage, the birth of their first grandchild and breast cancer. I have been a massage therapist, a loving, compassionate, listening, caring, person who supports my client’s journey into a greater awareness of their relationship to their body and lives by providing touch, unconditional listening and care. I have supported them in finding relief from pain, by helping them discover what conditions are in effect that are leading to musculoskeletal dysfunction = pain, and helped them find ways to change behaviors that are putting those conditions into effect. For whatever reason, the manipulation of their muscular system using my approach provided relief and restoration for them. I have had a deeply rich therapeutic practice, and the work I have done with my clients has taught me 10,000% more than I learned at massage therapy school.
I have grown into a passionate massage therapy educator. Beyond the education I always provided for my clients, I have been training Massage Therapists for 10 years now. Massage Therapy is evolving so fast I’m trying to keep up for the benefit of my students. If I don’t keep up with the evolution and progression of massage therapy I am doing a disservice to my students and I should leave my career. I have tried to stay on top of things, and through the technology of the internet, I’ve been able to communicate with Massage Therapy professionals and experts across the globe. It’s been a real blessing. In the midst of running my school, I’m doing my best to pay close attention to the movement in the profession, and found myself exposed to some interesting dynamics in the U.S Massage Therapy Scene. Here is what I believe I have witnessed.
My impression is also that they want Massage therapy to be a globally defined, standardized and consistent as a health care profession.
This is an extreme group, and they are making people aware of things that must change. Unfortunately, in the process, they are wanting to eradicate anything and everything that is not scientifically proven. This threatens a great percentage of the massage therapists who are practicing ethically and effectively today. I would love to see the science group build a remedial education bridge to ethical massage therapists who are making a positive impact on their client’s lives without trying to eliminate them completely. I believe that some of the massage therapists making false claims are doing so not because they are bad therapists, but because that is how they were taught. These people deserve patience and re-education.
When myths are debunked, and new evidence becomes available the masses of massage therapists in the US need to be reached and educated. I would like to think our leadership organizations would be able to pull that off. Schools need to be absolutely clear to teach the Ethics of False Claims, the importance of staying up to date, and Ethical Codes need to include some language stressing the importance of this. I hope the science group will realize that you can’t dig a big hole and throw everyone in it that is not 100% with them. As far as I’m concerned this is an Ethics, Scope and Boundary Issue. Some people need to be brought up to speed. Many others are doing incredible work right now that is not all based in evidence, but does not promote false claims.
Regardless of what I think or how I am categorizing the groups I have encountered to try to make sense of it all, and regardless of how you feel about my opinionated opinion, one thing stands absolutely clear. If you are a massage therapist or bodyworker who is making false claims, YOU are the problem, and you will be the catalyst of a great transition that passionate stakeholders will continue to demand, that Massage Therapy in the United States is a respected health care profession that everyone has access to. Why would any of us who really care about people and know the benefits of massage therapy dare to stand in the way of that?
I know that as an educator, I am rapidly revamping my program to align with this new culture so that my students will be ready to serve at a level that I never have before.
If you are operating from an agenda to heal your clients with your magical special powers it is time that you do a personal and professional inventory, redo your literature, your website, even your business name and start to be vigilant over the claims you are making, and the words coming out of your mouth that can do incredible harm to your clients and to the profession of Massage Therapy. Time to get with the program, or get out.
25 Wednesday Dec 2013
Posted Tidbits from the Massage Mammain
As a massage therapy educator, and retired Massage Therapist I am no stranger to the study of Boundaries and Assumptions. The other day, my two little step-daughters reminded me why awareness of our behavior around these concepts is a very important inclusion in our efforts to get along and share life with others.
In a frantic pace of wrapping Christmas presents I ran out of tape and I assumed that since my step-daughter regularly borrows items from our office supply kitchen drawer that she had the tape. I went into her bedroom and opened her night stand to see the tape which I grabbed, used, and failed to return. Not okay, but seemingly harmless.
That evening, she was having a sad conversation with my husband regarding the missing tape. He came to me and asked, “Did you borrow Kate’s tape?” I replied “yeah” in a what’s the big deal tone. He informed me that the tape I borrowed was her special tape, which she bought herself.
The conversation he had with her, which he shared with me, had revealed that she was feeling out of control and disrespected because many of her friends were borrowing her things and not returning them or returning them damaged or dirty and it was really annoying her. The tape incident was the last straw. (Please note; I have Kate’s permission to share the tape story with my blog readers.)
A few days later my husband and I came home to the room we are sharing with Kate at my In-Laws for the holidays to find it had been completely organized and cleaned. My initial reaction to this was one of discomfort and not of appreciation. Why? Because I did not want people messing around with my stuff. I have dirty clothes I don’t want mingled with my clean clothes, and there are Christmas presents hidden. I was not really upset, I just noticed the feeling of my boundaries being crossed. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to speak to my step-daughters about boundaries and assumptions.
I brought the kids into the bedroom and we had the conversation. Explaining boundaries and assumptions to a 7 and 10 year old is not much different than teaching these important interpersonal concepts to adult students at massage school. We first explored definitions of the terms. I was clear to let them know that this is something you don’t just learn and understand, but that these are lessons that we must practice and we have to pay attention to throughout our lives in order to get along with the different people we interact with. I talked about the tape and the cleaning incidents, specifically using the “sandwich method”:
I explained to them how people come from different cultures, lifestyles and experiences that make them have different boundaries, and that we should not assume (or guess) that because we like something, want something or are comfortable with something that other people feel the same way.
I provided an analogy of a girl growing up in another country. The story was about a girl living in a small house with a large family of 12. The girl slept in a bed with 5 other kids. I asked the girls if they thought this girl might grow up to be more comfortable with less personal space then they are used to due to their different life experiences growing up. They said “yes”. I then asked them to consider the possibility that the girl may grow up to want more personal space then they do, due to feeling crowded as a child. I explained to them that it is not up to us to know just by assuming or guessing. That we would only know if the girl told us.
I explained to them that we have different boundaries with almost every person we meet. I said to them “you see me hug and kiss Daddy but you don’t see me hugging and kissing other men or women. Your mom might kiss your boo boo, but you might not want your dentist to do that. You might be okay sharing your special doll with your sister, but you may not want to share it with the kid down the street. If someone were to come into your room and read your private journal you probably would not like it” They got it. In fact later that night, Ce Ce discretely came over to me at dinner and whispered “Jilly, can you help me? Kate is popping my space bubble.” It’s easy to love them.
I have always taught my students that if you want to learn, TEACH! Going through this process with my step-daughters has me thinking and reflecting about my personal responsibility to the ongoing work of honoring the boundaries of others and not assuming or projecting my likes and/or dislikes onto others.
We should not project our likes and dislikes onto others and assume everyone is just like us if we want to have a deeper understanding of people. As a massage therapist for example, you may not want to have your abdomen addressed in a session and that’s fine. What is not okay is for you the therapist to project your preference onto your clients and assume not to address this important region when you work.
Due to my career choices, I have had to get very close to others boundaries. My jobs require that I consistently ride the edge of personal and professional boundaries to be effective. At times I have had to cross a boundary to understand where it is. I have helped many people in different ways explore where their boundaries are, and broaden their believed limitations through the experiences we have shared.
As a massage therapist, my responsibility is to have a positive impact on the quality of my client’s life by providing massage therapy which encourages holistic healing. This is done in a way that (hopefully) meets them where they want to be met, while honoring their boundaries, and exploring those with them with full consent and ease of communication. In addition to a multitude of benefits, massage can help our clients expand into a higher awareness of their relationship to themselves.
Clients have different boundaries. For example, the depth they wish to receive, and what kind of draping is appropriate. We are sharing a professional form of touch intimacy in order to create meaningful and effective bodywork, from a place of respect for the both the giver and the receiver, which honors the ethical and professional standards of the work.
Every client has different boundaries and it is the therapists job to determine where those are, whether the client verbalizes these or not. Sometimes a boundary will be communicated by a change in breathing or a furled brow. This feedback helps us adjust what we are doing in order to better meet the clients needs. A client may ask for extremely deep work which the massage therapist knows for whatever reason is contraindicated, or the client may ask for a session with no drape. In situations like this, a therapist will need to diplomatically communicate their boundaries to the client, educate the client, and hold integrity with the professional boundaries in order to continue in the session.
I am essentially retired from my massage practice and spend most of my time directing, encouraging and advising Students, Mentees, and Instructors. A big part of my job is to hold people accountable to our agreements. As a leader interested in growth for everyone, I also deliberately push people to explore the edge of their comfort zone and to reach beyond it. This is dangerous behavior in the realm of personal dynamics and I have not met this work without occasionally and unintentionally hurting others by making assumptions and crossing boundaries. When this happens I will apologize if I made a mistake, other times I do not apologize because I am keeping my agreement to hold people accountable. I find it perplexing when people tend to think they can break agreements and not be held accountable, or take offense to being held accountable…but this is quite common.
There have been several occasions where it has been years before someone I have mentored with a loving shove of accountability calls or writes me to let me know it WAS the best thing for them to experience and it did help them grow, even though they were not happy with me in the moment. Similar but different, there have been many times I have not understood my own mistakes until years after an event occurred. I needed time to mature as a result of my own life experiences.
One great mentor of mine told me that as a teacher, you should not care if the students like you. You are there to impart knowledge, not win a popularity contest. Every day I wake up and I ask myself the question “who am I and what am I doing again?” In the next moment, I remind myself what I do, who I am, and I am overcome with the blended feeling of humility, courage and anxiety. I take a deep breath and hope to get my ego out of the way, be compassionate, and prove worthy.
Honoring Boundaries, and Managing Assumptions is Mindful Self-Development Interpersonal WORK. It is a practice. More than stuff, money, and power; personal relationships and the harmony, support, and intimacy you can inspire and share in relationships is what will deliver peace and contentment in life. We must always do our best to honor one another while maintaining integrity in our relationships to ourselves.
And then came FACEBOOK…
Somehow the work and practice I’ve done in the realm of honoring boundaries and managing the impulse to assume has not transferred very well for me in the Social Media realm. I strongly suspect I’m not alone. I’m not assuming, but I’ve seen some really bad behavior.
I personally have insulted, attacked, offended, defended, insinuated, implied, and wielded my ego in the most unattractive way in the social media world like no one’s business. I’m passionate, emotional and opinionated. I know this sounds like a winning combo but this way of being can occasionally get one into trouble.
I have often said that we will have a completely new branch of psychotherapy devoted entirely to the psychological/emotional challenges/issues that social media interactions bring up or reveal in ourselves. I am not making as many mistakes now as I did in the beginning as I have learned…but I still screw up when I get triggered.
Here are my new personal mantras when I am interacting with people who I have never met outside of Facebook and the thread is heated, or involves opposing views in industry, religion, lifestyle or politics:
I am making a New Year’s resolution to reel/real myself in on the Social Media Boards. I will still be interacting, but I hope to demonstrate to those I am interacting with a reverence for all. I hope this blog will inspire others to reflect on the conversations they are choosing to have including the images, videos, ideas, and posts people are sharing on Facebook. Words and images affect others in many different ways and the fallout will impact ones personal and professional image. NOT ASSUMING ANYTHING HERE… I’m not saying give up your controversial stance if that is what you do… I’m only suggesting a heightened awareness as if we are dealing with real people, which we are.
As for being a practicing massage therapist on Facebook, I highly recommend that you consider having a business page for your clients and privatizing your personal page if you intend to post photos of yourself drunk on tequila, dancing on a bar in Mexico in an ill fitting bikini. yeah…. I saw that post. 😉
01 Sunday Dec 2013
Posted Tidbits from the Massage Mammain
Berkana Institute, Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy, Denver Massage School, Hygiene, Jill Berkana, Massage, massage therapist, Massage Therapy, Massage Therapy and Bodywork, Self Care
In my practice from 1990 to 2008, I served hundreds of clients, thousands of massages. Every new client I saw completed an intake form and I conducted an interview in order to know how best to serve them. This intake process should be a standard practice for every legitimate massage therapist. One of the questions on my intake form states “when was your last massage”. During the interview, I often asked my clients “would you be willing to share with me why it did not work out with your last therapist so I can be sure not to duplicate that experience?” This list is a compilation of what I have heard over the years.
Everything on this list either happened to a client of mine, a student of mine, or to me. Some of the infractions are extremely rare and completely awful, even resulting in therapists being reported. Some of the infractions I have heard dozens of times and are of a more subtle nature. Still, no matter what you think about the individual items on this list, these are reasons people have continued to look for another massage therapist to replace the one they worked with before. As an educator, a massage therapy expert and passionista, I know and I teach that when a client is on a table, all of their senses are cranked up to a much higher level of sensitivity. This is what makes some of these minor mistakes more upsetting to the client. When a client makes themselves completely vulnerable by offering the therapist the privilege to work with them, we, the therapists, must be on our A-Game at all times, providing nurturing, ethical, therapeutic and professional touch. Being sloppy is not rewarded with the loyalty of repeat clients.
On the first day of my program at the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy in the Self Care and Hygiene class that I teach, I present this list. The students are always amazed, and the list usually grows from the conversations that the list provokes. My commitment to my students is that if they apply the principles we are teaching in technique, ethics, mindfulness and proven business practices they will be successful in this field. If a massage therapist manages to get someone on their table, the key to success is retention. Now, we are all born with an innate ability to provide nurturing compassionate touch to one another, and no one can teach this natural ability, but I can help my students figure out what conditioning from their life is getting in the way of their delivery of this normal skill, and I can teach them what NOT to do, and how to approach the beauty of compassionate and nurturing touch with industry professionalism and artistic grace.
With that…here is THE LIST: