Tell me about your training?
My initial training was at AKS Massage School in Herndon. While I was in massage school I also worked part time in a Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic, and did work study at a local yoga center. These gave me experience working within healing centers as well as keeping me healthy while learning my craft. I really credit that to being able to work this long without injury. Self care was a foundational aspect of my training.
How did you decide on massage therapy as a calling and career?
The first thing that really comes to mind is coming across a book called Touch by Tiffany Field. It referred to studies of infants that were orphans, or were born prematurely and had not received nurturing touch as babies. There was a high rate of FTT (Failure to Thrive – ed.) among these infants in these studies, meaning that there were more health complications in infants that were neglected and untouched. But they also determined that nourishing touch helped lower the FTT rate, and that infants who had nurturing contact had better overall health than those who did not. That really resonated with me, because I was born prematurely myself, and spent the first month of my life in the hospital. This was in the 70s, so contact with my parents that first month was limited. There might be an element of self-healing involved here, but that book really made me think about how touch can heal, and how touch is needed by human beings.
And then it occurred to me that my hands were always pretty warm and intuitive. I could always find the sore spot when giving a back rub, or if someone had an itch on their back I could find the place to scratch without getting directions. While I was reading that book, a career path light bulb went off, and I got started.
I’m happy to say that the self healing I needed was found through the trainings I sought out and exchanges with other practitioners. Working from a place of wholeness is important in being able to stay grounded and support the healing of others. I found that there is a great deal of freedom and creativity in working with my hands. And I love it. I get to help people every day and make a difference in their lives, and I get to work with people who are usually glad to see you. I’m happy to go to work everyday.
What is your specialty? What sort of massage do you offer?
My foundation is in Swedish massage, which is circulatory massage, but more often than not its deep tissue massage and working towards pain relief.
It would be inaccurate to say that I specialize, because it’s really a blend of different modalities that I’ve learned over the years. Continuing education is ongoing, so there’s always something new being added in. Honestly, it’s whatever someone needs when they come in. If they are having a day when they are feeling really anxious, I might begin with cranio-sacral therapy, or something to calm their nervous system. We have hot stones and hot packs that we use in the office, so I might use those to help them relax and soften the muscle tissue. I have a reiki attunement, so can offer energy work if that’s requested. Early on I found it was valuable to study prenatal and postpartum massage, there’s an art to it, and learning how to safely massage a woman through all phases of her pregnancy was important to me. I also offer postpartum cranio-sacral therapy. Hot Stone massage. Sports massage. A few clients come in for prep before events like marathons, bike races, etc. I often work with clients that are going through physical therapy to help support their healing.
What can you tell me about cranio-sacral therapy?
It’s a very light touch modality that works to release tensions from deep in the body. It’s really neat. You follow the cerebrospinal fluid rhythm, which is a sort of internal tide within the central nervous system to feel where there may be restrictions within that system. Gentle positional and fascial releases are then used to free up those restrictions and enhance the body’s ability to self correct. It’s useful for working with physical as well as emotional conditions. Headache, TMJ, brain injury, chronic pain, chronic stress, depression, insomnia, digestive issues, etc. I blend a bit of it into most session to deepen the relaxation response as a key component is activating the parasympathetic nervous system response, which is the space where the really great work happens.
What do you like the most about your clients?
I enjoy the variety of people that I get to work with. Clients come in for so many different reasons and from varied backgrounds, especially being here in the DC area.
I’ve been in practice locally for awhile and I think more than quarter of my clients have been coming in for over ten years, a few from the very beginning. Which means I’ve been able to watch their families grow and shift, celebrate life changes, and work with many people within the community. It’s an honor to be able to support and facilitate change within a treatment too. It’s really a lovely exchange. I’m constantly in awe of the work the clients are doing on the table.