What I Offer
The list below describes some of the techniques I may use in your session, some of the populations I have served, and I have included the background that informs my work. To me, what is paramount, is that I am able to listen deeply to what has brought us together, and how I may be most helpful to you. My hope is that this list below gives you some idea how I might go about doing just that. Each session usually goes for 1.5-2 hours.
The Dialogue of Touch: This is the title I use to explain the integrative bodywork I offer all of my clients and what I teach to other massage therapists and bodyworkers. In order for me to properly explain what this communication is like, I must explain something called Focusing.
Focusing is a body oriented, introspective process using one’s inner awareness to find insight into any issue or problem that is hindering one’s ability to feel whole, centered, balanced, and joyful. It gives the Focuser direct access to his or her own embodied knowledge, offering new information about any situation that was not yet known. It takes you directly to the place within, where you have a deep body knowing about a situation, uncovering something fresh, new and alive that was previously experienced as stagnant and unchanging. Focusing is a practice that allows the Focuser an opportunity to turn towards the stuck, painful, stagnant places to uncover something profound and new.
When using touch with Focusing, I am able to attend to, support and offer space for you, the client, to turn towards this inner knowing. We know the body is an amalgamation of interactive processes. For example, it interacts with and processes the air we breathe by taking air in, filtering in oxygen we need and filtering out any contaminants. It then exhales what is not needed and does it again. The body interacts with and processes food, water, people, etc. We can access the interactions taking place in a conscious way, but for the most part, we accompany these interactive processes unconsciously. There is so much more going on in any life situation than what we consciously know. Because of this, the interaction process knows more than we do! In your massage session you can sink into that level of awareness and find access to what is there for you.
In the massage session, there may be times when there is more going on in your body than the tight
muscles you are experiencing. So, we make space and turn towards this with interested curiosity, to learn more about what is in this tight muscle, for example. There is nothing that is needed for this to happen other than a curiosity about what is there. I support you in staying connected to that place of process using touch, which can be light to deep pressure, depending on what the body is wanting at the time. When we fine tune our skills at becoming consciously aware of the messages our body sends us, we are more able to respond and make the decisions that are best for us in that moment.
Geriatric massage: Did you know that at around the age of 65, the body begins to lose muscle by becoming more tendinous, and that this is why, on average, we begin to lose weight, (around a pound a year), slowly during our aging process? We are losing muscle mass, but we can significantly reduce this tendency by using the muscle. The phrase, ‘Use it or lose it’ is appropriate here! More than this, I find that what we think we know about aging has a lot to do with opinion, rather than fact and we are learning more every day about what it means, and doesn’t mean, to age. I encourage and support each person to learn what his or her body offers, what it is capable of and able to do giving you maximum joy and use of your body with wherever you are in life’s progresson.
Biofeedback: As I was initially learning about the relationship between the mind and body, I received training to become a therapist using biofeedback. Although I do not use the equipment in my practice, I do use the knowledge that the body can offer real time results to changes one makes in his or her thought pattern. Progressive relaxation is just one of the ways I integrate biofeedback into the massage session.
Hot Stones: If you have had hot stone massage before, you know the wonderful deep relaxation that is offered when penetrating heat is coming from the hot stones laying on your body. I find using the stones to be quite profound. I use basalt stones, the stones that are made from volcanic activity, as they hold heat equally throughout the stone and retain their heat the longest. I find this modality so helpful in releasing the severe and chronic tension in the body by having them in my hands as I massage, as well as lying them on the body. I can release many layers of holding this way and it is so relaxing. It is as though there is a special medicinal property to these stones. In fact, I hand picked each stone I used from the Oregon coast and I even made a special request that these stones might want to come home with me to help people. These were the stones that said yes!
Thai massage: In Thailand, they call this modality ‘Yoga for lazy people’ and although I do not subscribe to the idea that people are generally lazy, it is an appropriate description for this type of work! The client lies on a mat and then is stretched out by the therapist, looking much like yoga. I have integrated my certification in this modality to use on the massage table. I find this particularly helpful for those clients who suffer from back pain. Having said this, it is important to note that all back pain is not the same, and therefore this modality is not appropriate for everyone.
Pregnancy massage: I became certified in pregnancy massage over 10 years ago. It is an exciting time for a woman to engage with her body as it shows her its miraculous abilities! Yet, there is still the discomfort that accompanies such change in the body that massage can address. Included here is the post pregnancy massage, even when this massage comes 50 years later! Incontinence, sacral or sciatic pain can be a result from old scar tissue from pregnancy and something that can be addressed in your massage treatments.
Massage for Cancer: There is research indicating that massage decreases pain and increases overall sense of well being for patients who are going through cancer treatments. Whether you are at the beginning of your diagnosis, determining your treatment plan, in the middle of treatments or at the end, massage can support your body, whether it be through a place of relaxation and calm that is needed, or for reducing scar tissue from treatments such as with a mastectomy.
Sports massage: When in training, the body is actively engaged in changing to meet the demands the sport is putting on it. Whether training for the first time or for the hundredth time for an event, research shows massage decreases chances for injury and improves performance by maintaining muscle and joint functioning. No wonder professional sports teams have their own massage therapists! If you are starting a workout regimen after a long time of inactivity, it is worth having a massage therapist support you in your new commitment as you learn what your body is telling you. It is a wonderful opportunity to understand when your body is telling you that it is ready to push harder, or whether it is telling you to take a day of rest. Pain has many layers of information to know! This also applies to the seasoned athlete, wanting a deeper relationship to the body.
Spa massage: Although many modalities are employed in a spa, including hot stones, aroma therapy, etc., what is paramount to this kind of massage is the way it offers deep, restful relaxation. It offers a way to actively meet the stress response of the body, called the fight or flight response, and reset the body to a more calm, receptive state of being. Medically speaking, it moves our body from a sympathetic to parasympathetic state in the nervous system, which allows for this deep relaxation.
Focusing, a name for Mind/body Integration: I have been most fascinated by this integration, having been a social worker in my previous career. I went to graduate school to learn more about how I might support you, my client, with what might come from safe, supportive touch that uncovers the emotional/psychological holding in the body. What I found was this wonderful thing called, Focusing, which has nothing to do with what we know as focusing. Rather, it is a name for a body oriented, introspective process. I wrote my thesis integrating Focusing with bodywork and I hope you might read more about it below, entitled, ‘The Dialogue of Touch.’
Massage for Fibromyalgia: Auto immune diseases such as fibromyalgia are still unclear and unknown as to the cause and correct treatment. And, we are learning more about them every day. For the clients I have seen with fibromyalgia, we tailor each visit to what the body is wanting: deeper pressure, lighter pressure, more on the extremities, etc.
Intra-oral massage: A few years ago, legislation was passed that licensed massage practitioners can now use their skills on the inside of the mouth. This is quite helpful when addressing issues of the jaw. There is special endorsement required to work inside the mouth and I received this endorsement.
Nutritional therapy: I became certified through the Nutritional Therapy Association, and although no longer certified, the information always comes in handy. This training was heavily based in Weston Price’s work in indigenous cultures.