From the Background Paper for the Future of Bodywork Seminar
"Where Do We Go From Here?" held November 19, 2009
by Jack Blackburn, MTS-SD, LMP
Redefining the Profession
a. What directions in terms of NOW
What is happening to massage training now and where will it grow in the future? Will there be a corresponding growth in public awareness and acceptance as bodywork matures professionally and academically? Will bodywork practitioners go on to develop specialized treatments and more skillful modalities? Will the community of hands-on therapists discover as yet unexpected treatments that aim at promoting client self-healing? Will research open the doors to more medical applications for different forms of bodywork? Will manual therapists become the source of breakthroughs in somatic medicine and new forms of life fulfillment for their clients? Are there aspects of human life that will become avenues for bodywork specialization such as: working with elder depression and dementia, working with down syndrome and infant development, working with trauma induced depression and dissociation, working with mental illness, working with the immune system to bolster patient recovery and resistance to autoimmune disorders, supporting end-of-life transitions, increasing mind and body function through somatic awareness training, developing new forms of treatment through combining bodywork with medical procedures and medication, developing new forms of non-chemical and no-side-effects treatment for serious illnesses by working closely with biological medicine (growing and administering the client’s own tissue and disease-fighting substances like interferon).
b. Exciting future
It is easy to see that bodyworkers can choose to play very significant roles in the development of different approaches to human health and lifestyle. So there are opportunities just waiting to be plumbed. These options will be taken one way or another. The question is can we be proactive in developing them? Humans want to be comfortable and to feel safety for themselves, their families, and others. Bodyworkers can play key roles in the lowering of human stress and distrust of one another. And we can play key roles in helping clients become more personally involved in what happens in their bodies and their lives. We can work closely with other health care providers and caregivers in developing new, more body centered treatments for mental and physical problems. We can become pioneers in helping society become more accepting, less demeaning, and more understanding of the body itself. We can teach feeling-awareness of the body, which may further open the door of true self-transformation. We can also pioneer non-technical assessment tools to better understand the ways the body reveals proper courses of treatment and life change.
c. Uniqueness of bodywork
The bodywork profession is unique for several reasons. Practitioners spend more time treating and touching the body than any other health care profession. In other words we are continually listening to signals that come from the body. If we combine that listening with client somatic awareness we have the option of working as a team towards client self-healing. We can speak for the body rather than just describe it… this can be tremendously helpful to clients as well as our cousin caregiving professionals. Because of the comfort and effectiveness of the bodywork process, we can develop more trust and relaxation in our clients. By working with the body’s own systems we can go a long way towards providing symptomatic relief without side effects. We can accompany clients through any stage of their lives and bring comfort and relief. All of the body’s systems are supported through touch as well as client’s relationship with their own bodies. The net effect of all of these unique features is that bodywork can play a major role in helping human beings become happier and more fulfilled in their lives.
For more information about this event, or biographies of the panelists, please visit the Future of Bodywork.