Seeing Past Our Hands

Cal Cates | September 7, 2021

In early June, I had the honor of being invited to participate in the creation of a state-based palliative-care coalition. It was an excellent two days of meetings and synergies and collaboration... for mainstream providers. The vacuum that existed around integrative practitioners and their incorporation in care is not unique; it’s endemic.

Many of the people I spoke with shared excitedly, “Some of our nurses have some massage training” or “We have a great volunteer who does that.” When asked about the volunteer’s training, they would respond with surprise, “Is our volunteer a massage therapist? Hmm... I don’t actually know.”

We have some work to do to advance the practice of massage therapy in this space. We have to move beyond modalities within the profession and in our outward-facing engagements. I feel that most of us, massage therapists or not, are talking about the act of rubbing when we talk about the value of massage. (Yes, we massage therapists may be talking about a specialized kind of rubbing based on specific training and knowledge of anatomy, but we’re still thinking and talking primarily about our hands and what we can do with them.)

As massage therapists and bodyworkers, it’s time to advocate for being more than people who rub; we have to show ourselves to be practitioners whose hands are the very tip of an outcome-improving iceberg...

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