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What Next? Massage Therapy After the Coronavirus

I'm in a few excellent massage therapist groups on Facebook. These are usually the more dedicated, well-trained therapists who know that what we do matters (but it can't cure diseases), and are willing to put a lot of effort into our practices.

Right now, many are saying they're going to quit.

Person lying on snow with a white flag

They're saying that our society will never again want our services; that touch will become a thing of the past. They are asserting that with a global pandemic in our recent memory (when, knock wood, it's all settled down), there just won't be a market for our skills.

Dolls wearing tiny masks

At first, I was depressed, swept along by the sheer number of massage therapists agreeing. I began to think of other careers I could explore.

But then I realized how completely scared we all are. Many Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs) might have been dissatisfied down deep, frightened of job insecurity, unhappy with their prescribed scope of practice, or haven't quite found their niche. But until now, they didn't have any reason to stop. The pandemic is forcing us see more clearly.

And they're wrong about humanity not needing us.

Our society needs touch. Humanity needs actual loving touch to survive. Remember the monkey experiment? Without touch, without contact, we fail to thrive.

Man holding infant child

Humanity will not "evolve past the need for touch," because it can't. We can make touch safer. We can make humanity stronger with vaccines and treatments, we can, and will, come up with tests that will help stop the spread.

When the world opens its doors again in a few weeks or months, legions will be touch starved. We should prepare for the influx of clients, and we should prepare for the deep emotions they may experience. We will have to be ready for the gratitude mixed with apprehension and doubt. Our clients will need us to be more than we were; more connected, more compassionate, more patient.

two people hugging

If you are a massage therapist who is thinking of chucking your career in the bin because you've had to close your doors for a few months, take a second to think of where that's coming from.

Are you afraid of losing your source of income? If so, take a number, my friend. We all are. That's no reason to ditch your training. Find something to do in the meantime if you can, but come back later.

US dollar bills

Are you sure that you'll never be able to do the job without being afraid of this happening again? Maybe it is time for you to find something less "in person." Do some training, see what your next steps are.

person writing in school notebook

Are you just sick of massage therapy not panning out for you again? Yeah, you might be getting some clarity about how well this whole thing is working for you. There's nothing wrong with calling it quits if it just isn't right.

But for me? I know that when my office doors open again, I will be there for my clients. I will have spent this time preparing and learning and studying about how to help people after a major crisis. I will read psychological journals to better understand the ways a person experiences stress, grief, isolation, and fear.

Clarity can be a gift. I plan on putting my gift to the best use I can.

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