To my phenomenology, somatic, and embodied thinking friends, consider visiting the new blog site of my friend, colleague and mentor: Dr. Valerie Bentz:
I have returned from an academic conference (Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences- see http://rz18.wwwdns.rz.uni-konstanz.de/index.php) where I comingled with learned academics and presented collaborative work that lies at the core of my scholarship. In partnership with three most valued others (see http://embodiedresearch.com) we presented an unconventional (for most academic philosophers, anyway) workshop based on our shared interest in embodied research. By this we mean our shared goal to introduce bodymindfulness and somatic awareness to both topics and process in human science research.
Our panel was met with warm though sometimes skeptical responses. This was not unexpected based on our errant approach and the underlying awkwardness that accompanied the experiential panel in this overwhelmingly intellectual forum. Yet we were inspired by a common felt sense about possibilities. Appropriately and naturally, we debriefed afterwards, reflecting and planning on where to next take our work. We are considering a assembling book proposal. Inevitably, the topic of our competencies arose.
We mused that we were like pound dogs, mutts coming to academic pursuits via a jagged path, mindful that we were relative newcomers surrounded by career academics. Given my own personal history, I discovered that the pound-dog image struck a particularly deep cord. My details are personal and I realize I am not alone in having a story and that each of our stories is reflected in our present condition. The amazing part is that we are present, not only as scholars but as mutts.
A bit of research reveals that in spite of poor public image mutts are a preferential sub-breed. Their cross- and random hybridization contributes to strengths that seem orchestrated by a higher authority. Subsequently, in their randomized hybrid state, they are more adaptable. Hybrids avoid poly-genetic conditions, double recessives are less likely to occur, and have less propensity for unfavorable traits that are hard to eliminate from the gene pool (Haraway, 2003). They are notoriously stronger, faster, more street savvy (read: possessing of phronesis). Mutts exercise their resilience and sustain themselves by moving from one back alley feeding to another, varying their environment, and keeping their survival skills ever-sharp. As a bonus, their diet is diverse (and we are what we eat) and their body and senses well exercised.
In contrast, purebreds are prone to simple and complex genetic disorders that are subject to epigenetic triggers. Purebreeds, by definition, often result from in-breeding. Plus the phenomenon is actually unnatural: purebreds are a man-made phenomenon. Purebreeding is a form of human instigated genetic manipulation to engineer some imaged of the ideal canine companions (Mellersh et al., 2000). Luckily, research indicates that >90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations (Calboli et al., 2008). So there is hope even for purebreds (or at least their progeny).
Scholar-practitioners are hybrids. In our group of embodied researchers, we each have professional expertise and histories. In my group of embodied research scholar-practitioners we have been situated in practice fields that are explicitly body-based: Massage, movement therapy, dance, and yoga. We each came to our higher education pursuits and research from a practice-based arena, hoping to contribute academically gained knowledge to our practice fields and enrich research and scholarship with our insider’s expertise from the realm of praxis. Because of our hybridization we speak with authority and authenticity on body based topics. By our very nature, we are challengers.
Based on my anecdotal experience as well as my research (cite Fortune, 2014), scholar-practitioners are positioned to be mavericks. We often stepped back from practice careers at the height of our earning potential and notoriety potential to side-step into scholarly exploration of our fields. In addition, the data indicates we often experience disruption in our personal lives while we maneuver the depth associated with earning our doctorates. Propelled by passion and determination, we hold ourselves and our work to the highest academic standards. And yet we continue to wonder whether or not we are real scholars
Practically speaking, there are downsides to diluting our attention and talents over the different arenas of scholarship and practice. As relative newcomers to academia we do not have the tenure of knowledge and glib communications skills of life-long academics. Devoid of prestigious credentials and decades of practice, we tend to perceive ourselves as lacking authority, and simple humility risks lapsing into neurotic reticence.
But in reflecting on my own story, I see multiple times that I shied away from refined portals to a pedigree in favor of the more robust road to mutt-dom, perhaps propelled by an inner imperative towards resilience.
One reframe of this tendency is highlighted as a predilection to adaptability. In a recent TedTalk, Wapnick (2015) identified people who pursue, of multi-professional vocations and life paths as “multipotentialites.” One of their primary characteristics is adaptability. As scholars and practitioners, our multiple vocations alone demonstrate certain characteristics and tendencies that are to be revered. According to Wapnick (2015), these include the ability to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge and perspectives. She points out that innovations happen at the intersections, and are propelled by rapid learning and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone. I personally have observed that my best learning comes not from repetition but contrast.
Scholar-practitioners are a special category of multipotentialites, a non-breed that blends versatility with a lofty intention to self-actualize while reaching to make contributions beyond our imaginings. Perhaps in the process, we will end up leading others to where no purebreds could ever venture.
Calboli, F. C., Sampson, J., Fretwell, N., & Balding, D. J. (2008). Population structure and inbreeding from pedigree analysis of purebred dogs. Genetics, 179(1), 593-601.
Fortune, L.D. (2014). The Lived Experience of Mid-Life Scholar- Practitioners: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study. [conference paper} Presented at Annual Meetings of the Society for Phenomenology and Human Studies (SPHS), New Orleans. LA, October 2014. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269701503_The_Lived_Experience_of_Mid-Life_Scholar-Practitioners_A_Phenomenological_Pilot_Study
Haraway, D. (2003). 8. For the Love of a Good Dog. Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference, 254.
Mellersh, C. S., Hitte, C., Richman, M., Vignaux, F., Priat, C., Jouquand, S., … & Galibert, F. (2000). An integrated linkage-radiation hybrid map of the canine genome. Mammalian Genome, 11(2), 120-130.
Wapnick, E. (2015, April). What if you don’t have one true calling? Ted Talks. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/emilie_wapnick_why_some_of_us_don_t_have_one_true_calling?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2015-10-03&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_content=talk_of_the_week_image
This panel on recent research and scholarship will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of THE SOCIETY FOR PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE HUMAN SCIENCES (SPSH) in Atlanta on October 8, 2015.
The purpose of this panel is to share a conceptual model and experiential methods for incorporating embodiment into scholarship and research. Phenomenological literature abounds with references for the need to affirm the sentient body through reflection and exploration. To ground the theoretical in the flesh, scholars need to integrate embodiment in their topics, their subjects, and themselves in the course of conducting research (Todres, 2007). As a practical matter, scholars agree that empirical research would benefit from more attention to bodily experience (Finlay, 2006). But “how to” guides for bringing the body into the research process are limited (e.g. Sharma, Reimer-Kirkham, & Cochrane, 2009) and leave investigators lacking specific techniques with inevitable gaps remain between theory and practice.
This panel’s presentations are orchestrated to prompt interaction, to blend mentally conjured framework with corporeal enactment. The first segment will present a conceptual model based on Stages of Change theory (Prochaska, Norcross, & DiClemente, 2013) suggesting that research follows similar intersecting phases. Within that model, the subsequent three segments will engage a purpose to embodied research: a) to honor the body-based subject matter, b) to integrate the bodily perceptions into data collection, and c) to own somatic experience through the research process as a vehicle to deeper understanding and transformation.
This panel will present collaboratively inviting experiential elements, interaction and discussion.
Luann Fortune, Phd, MA, LMT serves as faculty and administration in the School of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University and holds a fellowship at Fielding’s Institute of Social Innovation. In her practice life, she was a massage therapist and wellness consultant for 20 yrs.
Also presenting with Luann:
Stephanie Lindsay, PhD, faculty, Saybrook University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Ritter, doctoral student, Fielding Graduate University, email@example.com
Clifford Smyth, MS, doctoral student, Saybrook University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Luann will present her latest research, a phenomenology on medicalized aging, titled “A Caretaker’s Experience with Medicalized Aging” which has been accepted for the ICNAP conference May 22-24 at Brock University. This work is inspired by Gawande’s recent book, Being Mortal, but expands the perspective of medicalized aging and dying to that of the first person, specifically the care-taker and family member who is interconnected with their loved one’s transition.
This work represents an evolution for Luann’s work, based in her trademark platform of somatics but delving into the aging process from a systems perspective.
My Healthcare Systems students have been recently ignited to stir up online conversations related to integrative health and wellness, mind-body medicine, and the work of a scholar-practitioner in shifting the healthcare paradigm in our society. In the past week, multiple blog posts and news items have been posted on our School forum at Saybrook. See https://www.saybrook.edu/forum/mbm
Please take a look at the important work that is going on right now. And think butterflies!
Dear Phenomenology Colleagues,
I am on the Executive Committee on two fine academic organizations that promote phenomenology scholarship. Both have issued their Calls for Papers for the 2015 conferences.
The Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP) is accepting calls for papers up to March 1. It is a setting very friendly to all varieties of phenomenology scholars. I plan to present again this year; I am also on the Executive Committee. A couple years ago, I brought a panel of my students to present and they enjoyed it very much. Some of them still stay in touch with contacts they made. See http://www.icnap.org/call.htm
While I was at posting CFPs, I thought I would put up the preliminary call from Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences (SPHS). As many of you know this organization has always enjoyed a strong Fielding University presence, thanks to the path-finding work of Valerie Bentz and David Rehorick. SPHS meets in the fall in conjunction with SPEP (Society for Phenomenology and Existentialist Philosophy). See https://www.sphs.soziologie.uni-konstanz.de
This year we will be meeting in Atlanta in October, hosted by Emory University. If you have any questions,please get in touch with me: I am the membership chair.
If you have questions about the settings or organizations please do contact me.
This original research study examined the lived experience of mid-life professionals who recently earned a PhD and did not subsequently take up an academic post. Data is based on recorded and transcribed interviews with three participants. Due to the limited number of participants this IRB approved research was considered a pilot study.
This research addresses a timely and socially relevant topic. The rising costs of earning a doctoral degree, along with the increasingly limited opportunities for PhDs in higher education, lead some to suggest that there should be fewer PhDs awarded. Others argue that vocational opportunities beyond academia need to be more fully considered. Yet both contrasting positions neglect to consider the social contributions and personal experience of PhDs beyond vocational benefits. While there is a growing body of literature that defines scholar-practitioners and examines how they contribute to professional projects, there is limited research on the social and psychological aspects of the scholar-practitioner experience. Data is based on recorded and transcribed interviews with three participants. Due to the limited number of participants this IRB approved research was considered a pilot study.
This research addresses a timely and socially relevant topic. The rising costs of earning a doctoral degree, along with the increasingly limited opportunities for PhDs in higher education, lead some to suggest that there should be fewer PhDs awarded. Others argue that vocational opportunities beyond academia need to be more fully considered. Yet both contrasting positions neglect to consider the social contributions and personal experience of PhDs beyond vocational benefits. While there is a growing body of literature that defines scholar-practitioners and examines how they contribute to professional projects there is limited research on the social and psychological aspects of the scholar-practitioner experience.
By focusing on PhDs who have recently earned their doctorates and continue to work in non-academic roles, this study elucidates insights beyond the vocational value of earning a higher degree. The process of earning the PhD was ascribed to be a life changing event that continued beyond the degree completion, facilitating fuller-self actualization, richer everyday living, and a deeper relationship with self. The results are intended to inform educators, graduate students, and other PhDs.
Several weeks ago, the results were presented at SPHS (see http://sphs.info ). Presently, the manuscript is being prepared for journal submission. But the conference paper can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269701505_Original_Research_The_Lived_Experience_of_Mid-Life_Scholar-Practitioners_A_Phenomenological_Pilot_Study
I am very pleased to share that my paper entitled, “THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MID-LIFE SCHOLAR-PRACTITIONERS: PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF A PHENOMENOLOGICAL PILOT STUDY” has been accepted for presentation at the 2014 meeting of the Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP). In this presentation, I will share the preliminary findings from my current research on the experience of mid-life professionals who return to graduate studies and complete their PhD, but do not take up an academic post. With significant focus now on the value of advanced degrees, I hope my research will lend insights beyond simply the job rate placements of new PhDs.
As a qualitative researcher and pioneer member of the ICNAP community of scholars, I am looking forward to a very successful conference in St. Louis and am pleased to be part of it.
I am delighted to share that my article “Creating Integrative Work: A Qualitative Study of How Massage Therapists Work with Existing Clients” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. It is based on my dissertation research that was completed about two years ago. I coauthored this journal article with my external examiner, Dr. Glenn Hymel, who gets to share in the credit of mentoring me and the research. I was able to acknowledge the support Fielding provided me in this effort: I received a FGU grant for the research, and presented the results at a conference last year as an ISI Fellow. And naturally, I got to acknowledge my wonderful committee: Drs. Valerie Bentz, David Rehorick, Connie Corley, and Dorianne Cotter-Lockard.
The exact date for the print version, but they offer online advance that should be released sooner.
Publishing this research has taken longer than I anticipated. The results have journeyed through two conferences, a poster presentation, and several local forum groups. This publication is hopefully its finale, and goes to show that dissertation research can follow one around for years.
We read it in USA Today, the New York Times, and magazine clippings that our clients bring us: Evidence now shows that massage therapy is associated with health benefits. And if you are like me, you wonder why evidence suddenly makes more real the power of massage that we have experienced all along. So other than good marketing value, what else is the growing evidence doing to our practice, and perhaps our craft?
As a veteran massage therapist, I have been teaching and taking massage courses for over 20 years. Over the past decade, spurred by the movement to establish science to support my art, I completed my PhD by investigating massage therapy and those who practice it. Some of what I learned surprised me, and motivated me to conduct exploratory research on how massage therapists execute a session. My research continues, as does my teaching of research literacy to practitioners.
From what I learned, the massage therapy field continues in a period of transition, “professionalizing” and many say, “medicalizing. “ According to multiple signs, massage is increasingly considered a health care intervention, identified as health care by 96% of consumers surveyed. Nationally, 96% of surveyed MTs claim they get referrals from health care professionals. Understandably, medical professionals want interventions to be backed up by concrete science. Accordingly, research supporting the efficacy of massage therapy has erupted over the past two decades, flooding websites and publications, and reshaping expectations of health care providers, regulators, and consumers.
Yet medical settings are not the most common places to get massage. According to multiple sources, most MTs self-identify as sole practitioners. The majority work independently in multiple settings, and most claim that massage is part-time work for them, often supplemented by their work in other fields.
So how is even the most diligent massage therapist supposed to keep up with the latest research? More importantly, it is really necessary?
Some industry experts claim that keeping up with scientific evidence is now an ethical responsibility. But as massage therapy elevates in legitimacy and visibility, do practitioners need to keep up with every study that comes out? Even for those who like to read science, how does one know if a study is trustworthy. What is more, just because a study is reliable does not mean it is clinically significant. The practical issue is whether the evidence — usually meaning more than one study — is strong enough to suggest a change in the way a massage therapist practices.
To address these questions, and more, I developed a research literacy workshop specifically for massage therapists. It is certified by NCBTMB for CEUs, including a two-hour session for ethics credit. I look forward to offering it at the Ohio State Conference in April 2014. I welcome this opportunity to share my knowledge about research as it relates to our work. In the interests of our craft and our livelihoods, we each need to be conversant with the research that is already reshaping the way we practice.
 American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). (2012). 2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/uploads/cms/documents/amta2012_industryfactsheet.pdf
Along with Fielding HOD alumni Alice Kitchel and Jim Marlet, I am launching a new project. Called the Scholar-Practitioner Circle Project, it is geared towards continuing discussion, networking, and research on how post-docs continue to translate their scholarly perspective to their practice worlds.
As an adult learner who achieved my PhD in mid-career stream, and also today as a mentor and instructor for other adults who are working towards their doctoral degree, I am interested in how this accomplishment defines others and changes our work and life. I see potential for research, writings, and fellowship around this topic. I welcome comments, and would like to hear other’s perspectives.
Massage, Children & Parenting
• American Girl. Real Spirit. Pleasant Co Pub.: Middleton, WI. 2005.
• Anderson, Bob. Stretching. Shelter Pub.: Bolinas, Ca. 1980.
• Brown, Bonnie. Stress Busters for Kids. Self Published. 2004.
• Carlson, Frances. Essential Touch. National Association for the Education of Young Children: Washington, DC. 2006.
· Davis, Laura and Janis Keyser, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, Broadway Books: New York. 1997
• Davis, M., Eshelman, E.R., McKay, M. The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. 3rd ed. New Harbinger: Oakland, Ca. 1990.
· England, Allison, Aromatherapy for Mother and Baby, Healing Arts Press: Rochester, NY. 1994.
• Field, Tiffany. Touch. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. 2001.
· Fraiberg, Selma. The Magic Years, Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, 1959
· Kabat-Zinn, Jon & Myla, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, Hyperion: New York. 1997
· Kemper, Dr. Kathi, The Holistic Pediatrician, Harper Perennial: New York, 1994
· Lidell, Lucinda, The Book of Massage, Simon & Schuster: New York. 1984
· Maxwell-Hudson, Clare, The Complete Book of Massage, Random House: New York. 1988
· McClure, Vimala Scheider, Infant Massage, Bantam Books: New York, 1982
· Montagu, Ashley, Touching ,New York: Harper and Rowe, 1986
· Samuels, Mike & Nancy, The Well Baby Book, Simon & Schuster: New York, 1992
• Promislow, Sharon. Making the Brain Body Connection. 2nd Ed. Enhanced Learning and Integration: Vancouver, B.C. 2005.
· Sears, William & Martha, The Baby Book, Little Brown. & Co: NY. 1993
· Simon, Sidney, Caring. Feeling. Touching, Argus: Niles, Illinois. 1976
· Zand, Janet, Rachel Walton & Bob Roundtree. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, Avery Publishing: Garden City Park, NY. 1994
• Gentle Touch® Infant Massage written by the creator of the Gentle Touch® Parent-Child Program, Emma Miller, D.Div., Child/Family Development Specialist. Hosted by retired pediatrician, Dr. Olson Huff. Produced By: Gentle Touch Parent-Child Program, LLC. 47 minutes. Available through Amazon.
• Good Night, Bedtime stories/meditations by Jim Weiss, Greathall Productions
• Hushabyes, Instrumental lullabies
• Mozart for Massage, One of many classic collections geared to children and/or relaxation, Philips Records
• Robbie the Rabbit. A http://www.Hemi-Sync.com product.
• Rock A Bye Collection, Lullabies; lyrics on one side and instrumental on the other.
• International Association Infant Massage (IAIMI), 1720 Willow Creek Circle, Suite 516, Eugene, Oregon. 800-248-5432
• Mothering, The Magazine of Natural Family Living, Published quarterly by Peggy O’Mara, P.O. Box 1690, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 800-984-8116
• Peaceful Touch. Provides training and information for safe touch protocols for children. See http://www.peacefultouch.net
• Touch points Newsletter. Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, P.O. Box 01620
I look forward to contributing to the Phenomenology Session with my dear friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Valerie Bentz on Thursday, July 18. On Friday, I will be on a panel with my alum buddies Michelle Mehta, Patti Millar, Kathie Court, Luann Fortune, Marisa Sanchez. We are presenting our experience and hoping for a productive discussion on The First Year Out: After The FOR.
In addition, I will be searching out input and interest in a new project I am launching, along with Fielding HOD alumni Alice Kitchel and Jim Marlet. Called the Scholar-Practitioner Circle Project, it is geared towards continuing discussion, networking, and research on how post-docs continue to translate their scholarly perspective to their practice worlds. For all my Scholar-Practitioner friends, watch for updates here as our project evolves.
Luann has been granted another year as a Fellow in the Institute of Social Innovation (ISI), Fielding Graduate University effective immediately. The ISI is an initiative that supports Fielding faculty, alum, and students in research, development, and organizational consulting projects with the goal of building human capital and creating organizational change.
For more information, and to see a link to Luann’s recent research, see http://www.fielding.edu/whyfielding/ci/isi.aspx.
I am delighted to share that my submission to the Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP) V has been accepted. This year’s conference theme is “Understanding Embodiment”. I will be presenting on this panel with several of my Fielding colleagues on Transformative Phenomenology: Implications for embodied interpretation. Transformative Phenomenology is an application and theory that arises from the work of our Fielding mentors, Valerie Bentz and David Rehorick.
My presentation is entitled Transformative Phenomenology: Implications for embodied interpretation.
Along with my MBM colleague Cliff Smyth, I will also be facilitating experiential work for the conference attendees, and moderating a panel of Saybrook students and graduates who are presenting their work.
The conference will be held this year at Ramapo College in New Jersey, May 24 – 27. If you are in the neighborhood, drop in! Details are at http://www.icnap.org/
On Saturday, I attended the joint memorial service in Columbia, MD for Charlie and Edie Seashore. Spending about three hours with hundreds of my colleagues and others who admired, loved, and learned from Charlie and Edie, I could not help wondering what Charlie would say about all the tears and tributes. Along with many other questions, I wish I could ask him.
With both Charlie and Edie Seashore gone from this earth, it feels a little lonelier and less rich, like one door to unlimited potential has blown shut. But I think Charlie, and especially Edie, would encourage me to feel the pain: It reminds me of a life fully lived, and that for a while I was privileged to live in the company of greatness. Charlie was my teacher, my personal coach, my mentor, and my counselor. Both Charlie and Edie were my friends.
I am especially lucky because I was part of honoring Charlie while he was alive. Working with my co-editor Joyce Langenegger, we compiled stories from numerous Charlie fans, mostly from our colleagues at Fielding Graduate University. These vignettes of meaningful encounters with Charlie’s wisdom became a little book What Would Charlie Say? A Tribute to the Wisdom of Charlie Seashore (2011).
In our forward, we wrote:
“…one of the most important elements is what Charlie does before he says anything. He listens, really listens, to what the speaker says, and even more important, he listens to what the speaker doesn’t say. His questions will probe deep into the gap between the spoken and unspoken words. How does he listen? Seemingly with his whole being. He sets himself up to be fully present in the moment and remains so.
…Even without his snappy phraseology, many of us will never forget his commitment to our work and to our development into better scholars, better human beings. Assembling Charlie’s witticisms into this compilation is meant to demonstrate that we too have been listening. Whether Charlie meant what we heard, only he knows.”
In addition to honoring Charlie, our intention was to help ourselves get through yet-to-come challenging times by remembering what Charlie did and what Charlie said. Since this is such a time, I want to add a post-script. After Charlie had a chance to compose himself after we presented him with this little tribute, he wrote this my book:
“There are no words to express the joy that this brings me in this season of my career. It sits on top of the many opportunities we have had to explore the intersection of personal and professional development, LLL (Lots and lots of love), Charlie”
I have no doubt that Charlie loved us and loved his work with us to his last breath. And this time, I am certain that I what I heard was what Charlie meant.
With all the first printing copies of What Would Charlie Say? distributed, the Seashore estate is considering another printing. There was also some talk of a companion edition, What Would Edie Say? As further details become available, I will post them here.
I am inspired by a successful presentation I made on March 4 here in Washington, DC to an enthusiastic group of upper school students. The topic was mindfulness/bodymindfulness and non-violence. I was invited to speak with them because of my expertise in mind-body practices, and because they read Thich Nhat Hahn for their coursework. I offered them a glimpse of the evidence on the benefits of mind-body practices to build mindfulness, and we practiced some elementary techniques. I left them with the idea that peace and change begins with individual awareness, which begins with our own breath. I applaud their teacher, their school, and each of them for connecting with this important topic.
I am reminded that our future ability to face the challenges of living together on this planet rests with the youth. While my graduate students inspire me each day with their commitment to learning and promoting evidence, I believe the key to mindful interaction begins with what we teach our children. Shifting our values to one of self-care, in all matters ranging from the environment to health care, begins with cultivating self and somatic awareness amongst our young people. I have added this vision as a personal goal for my work with wellness and education.
I welcome the opportunity to repeat and expand the presentation I made yesterday, in schools, community centers, and any venue that is curious about how to embrace a more mindful way of being. It all begins with one breath.
Contact me for details.
Luann is delighted to announced that she has been honored by the local chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) by being awarded the Meritorious Service Award for contributions to the massage therapy field and profession. This award was given in recognition for both her recent scholarly contributions to the topic of massage therapists’ practice, as well as her application of academic knowledge and credentials to advocate on behalf of local massage therapist’s regulatory issues.
Luann ‘s abstract entitled “How Massage Therapists Execute a Whole Session with Established Clients” has been accepted as a poster presentation at the International Massage Therapy Research Conference (IMTRC) to take place April 25-27 in Boston, MA. It is one of one of many high quality abstracts that the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) received for this important bi-annual conference. Luann will be attending and is looking forward to answering questions about her research.
Massaging babies is an integral part of infant care in many cultures. Recent studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of massage for helping babies grow, gain weight, calm themselves, sleep better, and bond with their parents. Some studies have also demonstrated how massage benefits the mother (and father) as well as the baby receiving the nurturing touch and techniques.
I am trained and certified through the International Association of Infant Massage Instructors to teach parents and care takers to massage their babies based on established practices and techniques. I am also a researcher, and expert in the evidence that supports massage as a wellness practice.
My next infant massage workshop at Circle Yoga in Washington, D.C. is scheduled for Friday, May 2 from 1 to 3pm. To sign up, contact Circle Yoga at 202 686-1104. For a preview, and a very special testimonial, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sahC2JQyGA&feature=plcp
For additional information on infant massage, or to inquire about private lessons, leave a message at Luann’s office at 202 244-2420.
I have been awarded a fellowship from Fielding University’s Institute for Social Innovation. This will support my continued research and scholarship on embodied research, somatic awareness, and the practice of complementary medicine. I am pleased to continue my affiliation with my doctoral alma mater!
Luann in full regalia
In December, I joined a group of local massage therapists to speak before the D.C. Massage Therapy Licensing Board about a matter of great concern to us all. The regulatory issue concerns whether LMTs can remain exempt from the burdensome Massage Establishment regulations that were newly implemented in the District. This continues to be a serious concern to all of us working in D.C., including those in private practice.
During the course of that meeting, I experienced a further concern. Although I was impressed by the support of my fellow professionals on the Board, I thought that the District employees who are involved in our regulation do not understand the prevalent conditions under which we work. After the meeting, I wrote them a letter citing recent data on how the “typical” American massage therapist works, and why our practice conditions make the new stipulations onerous. I am still waiting for a response.
Actually, I can appreciate the regulators’ apparent confusion because our field is in a state of flux. For the past five years, I dedicated my doctoral work to investigating massage therapy and those who practice it. Some of what I learned surprised me, and motivated me to conduct exploratory research on how massage therapists execute a session. My dissertation will soon be published, but I think my work is just beginning.
By necessity, as a foundation for my own research, I acquired a plethora of references. Now, I welcome any chance to share my ideas about our work and our field, which is on the cusp of transition. In the interests of our craft and our livelihoods, we each need to know as much as those who are already reshaping the way we work.
A Note about the Data
The AMTA just released its annual industry report for 2012 [i]. You will see it referenced in various trade journals over the next weeks, even though most of the data is carried over from prior years’ surveys. Collected over the past decade, the AMTA results are the most thorough and practice-informed data we have available. The big news from the latest figures is that our field is impacted by the economic downturn.
Besides AMTA reports, there are two other sources of data on MTs in the U.S. One is the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) that releases annual figures on practice patterns[ii]. The other source is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[iii], which collects data from employers. The Bureau’s website can calculate income by region based on estimates and standard calculations. But the results can be misleading. For instance, in a recent query the formulas seemed calculate MTs’ income based on a 40 hour work-week, where apparently all 40 hours are spent at the massage table. Thus, according to the website, in 2010 the average D.C. MT made over $58,000 annually, which is a much different figure than AMTA’s latest average income estimate of $21,028 1.
There are some flaws common amongst the AMTA and ABMP data. Since the results are proprietary marketing information, we cannot really see where the data comes from. For example, the population size, the survey criteria, and methods are not readily available. We can assume that the associations surveyed their own members, and hope they gathered enough responses to be statistically significant. But only about half the trained MTs in the U.S. belong to any association, with a higher proportion being ABMP members. Thus, survey results might represent the typical American MT, or simply the affiliates who were polled and published. Since it is marketing data, we can expect that the information will be presented in ways to best serve the individual association’s larger purpose. Also, the data is national data; we do not see a breakdown by region.
Another common problem is that the data gets mixed up in the reporting. AMTA regularly cites the Bureau of Labor statistics without mentioning that it is based on employer-supplied input. Also, I have seen ABMP publish data numbers that can be traced back to the exact same figures claimed by AMTA. AMTA sometimes mixes up its years in discussions and reports. This does not even take into consideration the biases inherent in the different in membership bodies, who responds to surveys, or how any particular question was worded to design the outcome.
A recent more independent, but perhaps limited source of data, is the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB). Beginning in 2009, NCTMB surveyed thousands of MTs for purposes of designing advanced certification programs[iv]. The survey population was diverse by association affiliation, but limited to MTs known to NCTMB. Independent survey researchers conducted these projects and disclosed their methods in the reports. Because of their transparency and specificity, we can see how some data can be confused. For example, AMTA reports that the vast majority (73%) of MTs identify themselves as “sole practitioners” 1. But the NCTMB report provides its corresponding question of whether “most of your work hours were spent in a private practice setting”. NCTMB surveyed respondents said “yes” 53% of the time 4. We can understand, by reading the original question, that “sole practitioner” identity and “private practice setting” are not the same thing. But they are easily, and probably often, confused.
The bottom line with the data is to read it carefully, and reality test what it says. Compare data to what you know based on your own work experience. Pay attention to the trends, and particularly to how different stakeholders interpret these. Be aware that you too can use the data to support your practice and business decisions. In my letter to the D.C. regulators, I used the data to support my argument that their new regulations were burdensome. I drew my specifics from “facts” I describe below.
Massage Therapy as a Profession
As a field, massage therapy exceeds the national average for career growth. Reports estimate an annual increase of 19% 3 in 2011. However, the massage business is not growing as fast as it was a few years ago when career growth was over 22% per year[v]. But it is hard to determine exactly what “growth” involves since the total industry revenue estimates for 2011, approximated at $10-12 billon1, dropped from the two years prior1,5. Meanwhile, estimates for the number of massage therapists and massage students in the U.S. remained the same from 2009 to 2011 1,5,[vi].
The associations estimate a total of 280,000 to 320,000 MTs in the U.S. today1,2. However, the Bureau of Labor estimates that 122,400 MTs were employed3. The variance is attributed to the idea that not all trained MTs are practicing. But not all practicing MTs are certified or licensed. Since regulatory requirements are changing, and vary by state, regulatory inconsistency is one indication that our vocation is in transition.
The recent AMTA report claims that massage is increasingly considered a health care intervention, identified as health care by 96% of those surveyed1. Of those consumers who received massage, 44% did so for health reasons1. The vast majority of surveyed MTs (96%) claim they get referrals from health care professionals1. The referrals averaged 4 per month, over double those reported in the prior year1. Since MTs depend heavily on return clientele1, this indicates an important trend. This is one important way that health care professionals are influencing MT practice.
But all the data sources agree that medical settings are not the most common places to get massage1,2. Only 13.8% of MTs recently surveyed report that their main work location is at a health care facility[vii], about the same proportion that work in spas4 .
The majority of massage in the U.S. occurs in private practice settings, with estimates ranging from 53% 2 to 73% 1. Although 59% of Americans surveyed would like their massages to be covered by health insurance1, as a practical matter, the beneficial properties and results are confined to a stratified population: those with sufficient discretionary income to pay for the service. Most massage therapy is procured as a self-pay service[viii].
Massage Therapist Profile
The typical MT is a female (85 %) in her mid-forties1. She reports using a variety of methods, most frequently Swedish and deep-tissue massage1,2. Most MTs entered massage as a second career. Independent research studies estimate the average tenure of MTs ranges from four to seven years, depending on region[ix] [x].
Nationally, the average MTs’ individual income has dropped. The majority of MTs claim that massage is part-time work for them, sometimes supplemented by work in other fields. In 2009, the average massage therapist worked 20 hours a week at massage and grossed $37,123 including tips 5. For 2011, that average income dropped down to $21,028 from 15 hours a week doing massage1. The typical MT sees an average of 44 clients per month and is heavily dependent on repeat clientele 2,5.
Most MTs (73%) self-identified as sole practitioners or independent contractors1. Although this was their main orientation, it was not necessarily their only one. The majority of MTs work in multiple settings in any given workweek5. This variety could result from tactical necessity, since insufficient income and a high burnout rate[xi] results in up to 50,000 MTs per year leaving the profession[xii]. With MTs splitting their work time between different locations, and even different vocations, it is difficult to know exactly how their income sources are distributed.
In my letter to the D.C. regulators, I used the above data to make several important points. I argued that the average MT was a relatively low-wage worker who could not absorb high overhead expenses and licensing fees. I suggested that MTs often band together to share facility-related overhead, and should not be penalized for this business tactic by onerous operations requirements. Finally, the data helped me demonstrate that MTs are health care workers who should be afforded the same governance-by-peers considerations that are employed for other health care professions.
Beyond helping us to advocate for ourselves, survey data is useful in practical ways. It can help us understand broader trends for planning our business. It can be used as a marketing tool with clients and adjunct professionals. Also, survey data can inform local program design, governance, and support.
However, national data is not identical to local practice. If we want to know more about our local AMTA fellowship, it might be worthwhile to design a custom survey for our D.C members. Surveys can be administered at minimal costs online via Survey Monkey. But there is a talent to designing good surveys, so it warrants thought and research. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to survey members voice-to-voice, so as to clarify what information is collected. The practical value of collecting and managing our own local data is something for our Chapter leadership to consider.
In any case, particularly at this time of industry transition, it is critical that each of stay well informed. With knowledge and a willingness to take an active role, we can help shape our work conditions. Aside from our livelihoods, our participation will determine what becomes of the practice and craft of massage.
[i] American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). (2012). 2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from https://www.amtamassage.org/uploads/cms/documents/amta2012_industryfactsheet.pdf
[ii] Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP). (2010, October). Massage therapy fast facts. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.massagetherapy.com/_content/images/Media/Factsheet1.pdf
[iii] Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011, May 17). Report 31-9011 Massage Therapists. Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2010-11. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319011.htm
[iv] Wilson, D. J., Bontempo, B. D., & Amoruso, M. (2010, January 19). NCBTMB advanced certification needs assessment survey results. Vienna, VA: NCBTMB. Retrieved from http://www.ncbtmb.org/pdf/NeedsAssessmentSurveyReport.pdf
[vi] American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) (2009). 2009 Massage therapy industry fact sheet – 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2010 from http://www.amtamassage.org/uploads/cms/documents/2009industryfactsheet.pdf
[vii] Webb, L. C. (2011, April). National Certification for Advanced Practice (NCAP) job analysis study. Bloomington, MN: National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB). Retrieved from http://www.ncbtmb.org/pdf/Advanced_Practice_JTA_Survey_Results.pdf
[viii] Field, T. (2001). Touch. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
[ix] Dillon, D. (2010, Summer). Report on the state of the industry [Electronic Version]. Massage Therapy-Canada, from Retrieved September 21, 2010 http://www.massagetherapycanada.com/content/view/1615/38/
[x] Sherman, K. J., Cherkin, D. C., Kahn, J., Erro, J., Hrbek, A., Deyo, R. A., et al. (2005). A survey of training and practice patterns of massage therapists in two U.S states. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 5(13).
[xi] Snow, M. D. (2008). Is burnout an occupational challenge for the working massage therapist and if so is there a relationship between burnout and proactive coping? [doctoral dissertation]. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.fielding.edu/pqdtft/docview/304814785/1319607E1E4453145B/1?accountid=10868
[xii] Brown, A. (2011, August). Is a spa right for you? Massage Today, 11, 1, 12, 18.
I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a position as part-time faculty with the College of Mind-Body Medicine (MBM) at Saybrook University. I shall be mentoring graduate students around their program needs and academic work, as well as working with the research curriculum. More information on Saybrook can be found at http://www.saybrook.edu/mbm
I am delighted to announce that my paper ESSENCES OF SOMATIC AWARENESS AS CAPTURED IN A VERBALLY DIRECTED BODY SCAN: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL CASE STUDY has been published in the 2011 annual review Schutzian Research. This was my first phenomenological research as a doctoral student a couple years back, and I am pleased it is being so honored and will enjoy a larger audience. The full citation for this piece is
Fortune, L. D. (2011). Essences of somatic awareness as captured in a verbally directed body scan: A phenomenological case study. In R. L. Lanigan (Ed.), Schutzian Research: A Yearbook of Worldly Phenomenology and Qualitative Social Science (Vol. 3, pp. 105-118). Bucharest, Romania: Zeta Books.
I will be teaching infant massage for new babies and their parents/caretakers/loved ones on Saturday, May 5 from 12:30pm to 2:30pm at Circle Yoga, in NW DC. Please contact Circle Yoga to register at 202 686-1104.
I am delighted to announce that my study that focused on how massage therapists are experiencing the impact of regulation in their work will be published in the International Journal of Massage Therapy and Bodywork. With the help of a medical research and Fielding colleague, Elena Gillespie, we wrote an article based on my findings. It is entitled “The influence of practice standards on massage therapists’ work experience: A phenomenological pilot study”.
This is an important move forward for qualitative research in massage, and integrating the voice of the therapist into established knowledge. My thanks go out to the many who made this accomplishment possible.
I am honored to co-lead a woman’s spirituality group at my wonderful church on Sanibel Island, St. Michaels and All Angels. We gather semi-monthly for an hour, and share thoughts, perspectives, and our life experience around various themes that surface organically from our conversations. We started with a collection of ideas to discuss, and we distributed them around an integral theory model with the four quadrant representing Self, Family, Community and the World. But some themes are over-arching and touch on all four corners of our lived experience.
Such is the case with our current focus on personal power. This concept has been the subject of recent writings, scholarship and politicizing. We have fueled our discussions with publications that I locate on the internet. We are find it rich terrain for discussion and growth. Some of the questions that surface are life questions; I think this is the case of the question of how is empowerment different or the same as having power.
It is complex the ideas of empowerment and personal power, embedded in our cultural and personal experience. But one worth asking each day on the path to self-actualization and perhaps happiness. From our last readings, I latched onto three questions/perspectives: how we enjoy (or relinquish) our personal power, what our religious tradition says about a woman’s power, and how contemporary events and situations influence each of us personally.
I welcome further conversation here, and include the references to readings we are engaging.
Saybrook University, where my work finds fruition, now offers public webinar on topics related to holistic wellness. I am pleased at the impact my colleagues and students are making in the practice realm every day.
Nutrition Webinar Now Available Online: Fit vs. Frail: Nutrition and Exercise for Maintaining Strength, Function, and Independence While Aging
Saybrook University’s College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences presented a webinar on Wednesday evening February 10. The speaker was Dr. Jeannemarie Beiseigel, the Director of the Master’s of Science Degree in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. The Webinar is now available online at: https://youtu.be/quU24IpxBpc
While on my work-related travels last week, I had the joy of being in the same room and space with my colleagues and students. One of my students, who encapsulates being a somatic based scholar-practitioner, commented to me on an article I published a few years ago based on a self-study body-scan exercise (Fortune, 2011).
She wrote (K. Cooley, personal communication, November 23, 2015):
Some thoughts that I have about your paper, stem particularly from these two lines:
“but teaching somatic awareness requires increased substantiation and training for widespread implementation.”
“Recent advancements in neuroscience hold potential for content putting evidence to support wider spread application for somatic awareness yet the disconnect between the concepts of physiological science and philosophies of the mind contributes to linguistic inadequacies for mind-body exploration the contemporary proliferation of neuroscience data and findings leaves a gap and examining the quality of somatic experience.”
She went on to say that she incorporated her reflections into a paper which she then incorporated into a posting for her blog. In this post, she looks at somatic awareness affecting health looking at stress responses. http://www.thebodymindful.com/neck-and-shoulder-chronic-pain-and-stress/
I am honored to be generative, seeing my work morph through others into new and innovative thinking. But also, I value more than ever the importance of connecting in-person. There is nothing like being there.
Fortune, L. D. (2011). Essences of somatic awareness as captured in a verbally directed body scan: A phenomenological case study. In R. L. Lanigan (Ed.), Schutzian Research: A Yearbook of Worldly Phenomenology and Qualitative Social Science (Vol. 3, pp. 105-118). Bucharest, Romania: Zeta Books.