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The Best Gets Better

I just answered two phone calls from two therapists who were interested in taking a PNMT seminar. Neither of them had ever taken a seminar with us, nor did they know much about us. Both had rather stumbled onto our website and had watched a video introduction about PNMT.

What caught my attention is how both of them described being in practice for 12-15 years and had very busy practices. Both of them described how they felt there were big gaps in their knowledge, areas where their skill set needed refinement. Neither was very impressed with the quick-fix approaches (been there, done that) or the recipe approach. They needed more treatment and assessment options that only a wider and deeper knowledge base can make possible.

What I know is that both of these therapists are already very accomplished and extremely dedicated. Like so many other disciplines, the better you get, the more you realize there is more to know. Really good therapists aren't satisfied with being really good. The more they learn, the better their results. As a result, life in the treatment room also becomes much more rich; being challenged to be a creative problem solver. The very nature of PNMT feeds this experience; we don't have set protocols but teach therapists about multiple treatment options. The artistry and the wisdom is in the choosing. In addition, we don't learn anything from our successes. It is our failures that invite us to grow.

The satisfaction of problem solving and feeling like you really made a difference in the lives of those who seek your help is not unique to massage therapy. In a 20-year, multinational study of 11,000 therapists conducted by researchers David Orlinsky of the University of Chicago and Michael Helge Rønnestad of the University of Oslo, psychotherapists reported that "healing involvement" was overwhelmingly the highest motivation factor for staying in the profession. What is meant by "healing involvement"? Healing involvement was defined as the therapists’ reported experiences of being personally engaged, communicating a high level of empathy, and feeling effective and able to deal constructively with difficulties.

I also thought it quite interesting that almost 97 percent of the therapists in that study reported that learning from clients was a significant influence on their sense of development, with 84 percent rating the influence as “high.” In many ways, I feel that what I am teaching in PNMT helps the massage therapist to understand the cues that the client is giving them. Everything means something, but only if you know what it means. Everything a client reveals to us is a clue to solve the presenting symptom.

Really good therapists realize that they need to get better in all phases of the work, from palpation skills to listening skills, assessment to treatments. The first step on that journey is to realize that there is much to learn. I feel the same way every day. Clients challenge us to up our game, always presenting with something new and just beyond our present capabilities. That reality keeps us growing and learning. How lucky are we to be in that position? Thank you for being on the learning journey with me!

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