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
benefits of massage, Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy, Jill Berkana, Massage Therapy, Self Care
Right 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
07 Sunday Aug 2016
Posted Tidbits from the Massage Mammain
I am writing this article because I am regularly hearing from my beloved Alumni, family and friends that they have had accidents; or their friends, family and clients have suffered accidents. I have some advice to share because the trend seems to be to give these events little attention (if that is at all possible) and just carry on. This can be a big mistake.
If you have:
YOU have had an accident. For the sake of this article, let’s assume these things:
Normally when you are in an accident, you are in shock. The level and intensity of that shock will be determined by the event, the damages, the injuries, and by who you are constitutionally. When you are in shock, the natural thing for you to do is to begin to cope as best as you can with the situation. You will start processing the event in the realm of “how can I make sure everything is ok”. You will look at the property involved, the people involved, start to negotiate the planned events that are getting derailed, (if you are able to) and try to shape the event in such a way so it will drop conveniently into your reality in a way that it will fit, and everything will be just fine.
Within that negotiating process, you will be forced to pay attention to pain in your body. This is not a time to be a tough guy or girl… this is the time to listen to the feedback your body is giving you. Your body is going to have endorphins coming to the rescue to help you cope with the scene, so you will not have a real accurate assessment of the feedback your body is giving you. You are not going to feel the pain that truly represents the physical damage….yet.
You will naturally try to diminish the extent of things to help you cope. This can be a real big problem because you must advocate for yourself, and/or have someone else advocate for you if you are not able to. It’s way too easy to say “oh I’m fine… I just feel a little soreness there, it will be fine tomorrow… I’ll just take an Advil and put some ice on it”. In this day and age and culture we are all conditioned to say “it’s no big deal… I’m fine”, and tough it out. You may not BE fine, and if you say you are fine, and convince yourself you ARE fine, and convince your advocate that you are fine, you could miss out on opportunities to receive treatment, AND THE COVERAGE OF TREATMENT YOU ARE ENTITLED TO, that may have a phenomenal impact on the immediate and long term outcome of your recovery.
If your accident is anything beyond a minor incident you should see a doctor. Not being a doctor, you are not qualified to diagnose anything at this point so you need to go to a doctor to figure out what damage you have truly sustained. Do you have a concussion, do you have bruises and contusions, is anything broken, is anything ruptured, is anything bleeding that you can see or can’t see? These are the issues the DOCTOR is going to check for you and make sure you are cleared or treated for. The DOCTOR is the one to help you make sure there are no hidden problems that could potentially be REALLY bad right now or later.
What the doctor may not see and may not consider, or may not consider a problem for you later is SOFT TISSUE DAMAGE AND THE LONG TERM CONSEQUENCE OF THOSE.
You may not fully realize the long term effects of the soft tissue damage (muscle, tendon, ligament and the nerves that work with these structures) until several months, if not years after the accident.
Depending on the musculoskeletal damages you have sustained in the accident, the support you receive in the early stages of your healing could greatly influence the long term impact of the accident on your life.
If any of your injuries involve a sprain, strain, broken bones, soft tissue injury, whiplash, or surgery, Massage Therapy can be very supportive to your healing process and have a powerful and positive influence over the final result. Depending on the nature of your accident and the injuries, you most likely will not be able to receive massage therapy until the chronic stage of your healing. If you are working with a doctor, neurologist, chiropractor or an osteopath, you can ask them about working with a massage therapist, and see if they are open to writing you a prescription. It’s possible that your insurance plan will cover massage therapy for you.
Throughout your healing process, massage therapy can greatly support you in coming back to yourself as much as you can in the face of the trauma you have experienced. Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Strength Training and Emotional/Mental Healthcare professionals may also be part of your recovery team.
If what has happened to you is the fault of another party, it is important that you receive all the care you need, keep solid records, and if necessary get an attorney to represent you. Don’t settle for as long as it takes to finally understand the long term damages you have sustained. This can take months to years. I recommend you keep a daily journal to record what you are feeling from day to day.
I hope that none of us are in any accidents! In the event you are I wish you a swift and complete recovery! Hopefully at least one piece of this advice will come in handy. No matter what, do not try to sweep what is happening under the rug and tough things out. You must pay attention to your body and what is going on as the healing process unfolds or you could miss a great opportunity to receive support and save yourself from bigger problems down the road. Specifically, pain resulting from musculoskeletal dysfunction.
If you do not have any injuries from your accident, please do take time to rest and find ways to nurture yourself before you go back to your normal day to day activities. Even a minor accident is a trauma that you will need to recover from.
Why am I qualified to give you advice? I have been in the field of Massage Therapy for 26 years as an educator, school founder, curriculum architect and a practitioner. I have had hundreds if not thousands of client’s who present with chronic injuries from accidents in the past that impact their lives later on. I have been in accidents myself. I have been in 2 major and 3 minor car accidents, I have fallen off horses, bikes, skateboards, and had a stint as a Karate enthusiast where I was falling hard, being punched and fighting. If you want to know more about me you can read my bio here.
27 Thursday Nov 2014
Posted Tidbits from the Massage Mammain
I wanted to share something that is significant for me, which is my relationship to the world and how a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) shifted everything. I hope this offering will provide some insight for someone who lives with TBI, or has someone with TBI in their lives.
In 1995 I was in a serious car accident. I had been a busy and successful practicing massage therapist with a private practice in Boulder Colorado for 5 years. I was on the edge of burning out and a single mom. I went to my dad’s home in North Carolina for the holidays, and was driving home. I was rear ended on the highway heading West in Alabama by a brand new, shiny blue 18 wheeler carrying fuel with a Christmas wreath on the grill. The driver was going about 73mph when he tried to pass me. I was going 68mph. He clipped me. I spun out of control, jumped the median, flew through the air and landed. My son was in the back. He was 6 years old. Upon impact to the driver’s side front corner of the car, my neck was completely rotated to the right as I had my arm over the front seats to try to secure and watch my child in the back seat as we were spinning. When we hit, I suffered a whiplash in a strained neck rotation to the right with my left ear practically hitting my chest. My son was in shock, and after tests at the hospital he was released at 100%. I was seemingly fine. I had no broken bones, no blood loss, yet something dramatic had shifted. I felt as if I had walked through the looking glass.
What I ultimately learned after all of the tests was that my brain was more or less slammed against the inside of my skull. It was also suggested that some issues in my neck were responsible for the symptoms. The initial stages of my injury and the recovery pulled the rug out from beneath every aspect of my life for a period of 2 years before I stabilized. I suffered a lot of musculoskeletal trauma with constant pain, and I eventually recovered about 70% from that. I have a great deal of scar tissue. I was told by my health care team that I had suffered a traumatic brain injury specific to my frontal lobe, and the goal was to become functional in life with it. For a period of time, I slept about 12 hours a night, could not remember beyond the normal things we forget and I was a disaster. Losing my keys, not being able to drive, forgetting to turn off the oven, losing my car, missing appointments, forgetting names of people etc. I lost 40% of my vocabulary. The greatest rip off is I feel that I missed my son’s 2nd and 3rd grade years. They are a blur. I can’t remember anything but the struggle of survival during that time. No one understood what I was going through. I was suffering from PTSD, was dealing with lawyers, insurance companies, in a brutal battle with the trucking company, and was in various recovery treatment 25 hours a week. There was every type of therapy and tons of it. I had become left side dominant, and there were some difficult symptoms that required a lot of new life skills. I have never fully recovered, but with the help of my doctors, specifically the neurologist and neuropsychologist I had learned how to cope with my new brain. Some of my greatest breakthroughs were getting filtered ear plugs to help with focus issues, doing crossword puzzles daily, drinking coffee, and using a computer to hold the memories and important information I could not. Photographs became very important to me.
I also had a lot of musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain from the trauma and I got a lot of bodywork and massage which I could not have made it without. That is another story, the brain injury is what I’d like to focus on for this essay. Many people live with varying degrees of this condition. How your brain is damaged will determine who you are. I have a list of symptoms. I have a short term memory which can be embarrassing and give the impression that I don’t care to remember or that what others shared with me was not important to me. This is completely untrue. I do care. My perception of reality is different. I feel like I’m always half way between a dream state and an awake state. This has never changed since the accident. There was “reality” before the accident, and “reality” after the accident, and my perception of these two realities were vastly different. My sense of smell and hearing is so strong that what these senses are picking up can be completely distracting and maddening. People don’t understand. I can hear everything and it annoys the hell out of me. If I am trying to focus, and I feel bombarded by the hum of my computer, the refrigerator making ice, animals breathing, people clicking pens, etc. It can be crazy making and my anxiety rises. If I am not being mindful of my reactivity, I could be short with one of my kids or husband. I can become extremely agitated if I am interrupted because I’m sure to completely forget what I was talking about. If I am in a room where someone is wearing oils or perfumes or hairspray it can distract me to the point that I can’t keep my thoughts straight. I FEEL a lot. My list of “A LOT” goes on and on. The reason for this is I have lost some gate keeping. This is not easy to deal with. I feel that I live in the now more than I did before the accident, and I don’t hold back like most people do. This has been a great gift and a great curse. I feel I lack normal self-restraint at times, so I will often take on things reasonable people would not. This has resulted in great accomplishment… and big mistakes. I found my brain was working in different ways. I was using a computer a great deal and I could learn to use programs with ease. I could see, understand, and write HTML. I was able to accomplish sick amounts of work in a very short amount of time, still do. I could see things in life that were normally flat, in dimensional layers, for example, music. When I hear music now, I’m not just hearing the music, I’m hearing the 8 or 9 or 12 layers of the music. My massage therapy palpation perception was suddenly worlds beyond what I had ever experienced before which greatly improved my ability to serve my clients. If it were not for my TBI, I would not have the same accomplishments that I have now. I forgot a lot too, and some of the memories I forgot were those that resulted in victim identification from events in my young life. I had identified completely with self-pity from troubled events in my childhood, and that was suddenly not an issue anymore. I was forced to reinvent myself, and even though I had to repair and rebuild which was painful and difficult, I do feel that my TBI was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.
It does not always go that way for people, however. Do you know the many ways a traumatic head injury can affect a person? Have you or your loved one been hit in the head at some point in life? When people begin to explore TBI, it is shocking to consider how many people could be living with a TBI and don’t even know it! Especially children. That issue you have with your child could simply be a misinterpretation of their perception of reality. People with TBI are trying to make it work here in the face of life’s normal expectations, and are often misunderstood. It can be really hard just to feed and shelter yourself. We don’t have a big bandage on our heads, and so when we don’t meet the normal expectations of others, we can be thought to be self-absorbed, or uncaring.
Everyone with a TBI operates at different levels of functionality. Coping can turn into the opening up of a different kind of brainpower, hence the gift/cursed new reality, and some people hurt badly for the rest of their lives and will need complete support. Consider our homeless veterans. How many of them are suffering from PTSD and possible TBI?
I am lucky. My noodle was twisted just right. I know that if it were not for my TBI I would not have been able to accomplish the work I am today, and I’m grateful for the change that has occurred in me. I hope by sharing my personal experience with TBI someone will be better supported in their journey toward healing and functioning. Here are some other resources if you would like to explore further.
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: