As a result of my choice to become a licensed massage therapist (LMT), I’ve had the real pleasure of defending this great profession to many many folks who are simply under-educated about what the profession actually stands for. I am aware of the social “norms” and common misconceptions tied to being a “masseuse” <while living in Las Vegas>. For the most part, I choose to believe that people are misled by the media coupled with the lack of access to factual data reports which medically substantiate the effects of massage therapy on the human body. Much like an IT expert is not automatically thought of as a “hacker”, I hope to bring that same notion to the idea that a Massage Therapist is not thought of as a prostitute.
By definition of Touch Therapy, let’s break this down:
noun: touch therapy; plural noun: touch therapies; a type of therapeutic treatment in which the therapist physically touches the subject in a specific way, including reflexology and various forms of massage.
The sense of touch is one of our five primary senses. In humans, the hormone release of oxytocin is a primary benefit of physical touch. Oxytocin aids in furthering human to human contact, which promotes feel-good sensations that foster a sense of safety, well-being and general happiness. “Among the various reasons why primates do touch each other is to ease tensions among the group in social situations.” (source: Advantages of Human Touch) Oxytocin is associated with empathy, trust and relationship-building, and often reported to have positive benefits as a treatment for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and intestinal-related problems. To simply define “therapy”, we see it as a form of treatment to relieve or heal from a disorder; mid 19th century: from modern Latin therapia, from Greek therapeia ‘healing’, from therapeuein ‘minister to, treat medically’.
This is all getting very wordy, but from where I stand I see several signs pointing toward positive effects in the human body which can be brought on through the manual manipulation of skin, blood, lymph and muscle tissues. A comforting touch from a trusted person is one of the very best ways to promote relaxation, which in turn promotes healing as well as recovery from disease. Much like an unwanted gesture can negatively affect the rest of your day, so is true with a desired exposure to more contact with another human.
Professional and therapeutic massage therapists are in the business of helping others heal from the daily struggles of living. We have no control over many of the experiences in our lives which we are exposed to or subjected to when another person treats us poorly, but we can control the healing process and assure that a protocol of therapeutic treatment is within every body’s reach.
When you feel like you’ve been misunderstood or lost in the frey for most of your life, would you be willing to allow a little sense of touch back in to your life? Personally, I’ve shared with you about my experiences with domestic violence, prescription drug addiction and alcohol dependency; somehow I am still alive to tell the tales of how my grass is growing greener on the other side. I now advocate for the use of hugs over hits and increasing flows of oxytocin over oxycodone. When I lay my head down at night, regardless of the daily struggles I’ve just faced, I assure you that I feel the drive to further educate myself and those around me to gain support in the human to human contact movement.