Tag Archives: sustainability

The Business of Massage – I mean CAM therapies

Originally published in WA State Massage Therapy Journal – Oct 2011 – Chase_WMTJ_2011-10_Business of Massage

This summer I have had the good fortune to work at the Samueli Institute in the Washington, DC, area. The institute, founded in 2001 by Henry and Susan Samueli, is a research firm dedicated to the scientific investigation of healing and its role in health care and wellness. Their focus includes complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, optimal healing environments, relationship-centered care, the mind and lifestyle in healing, health care policy, and military and veterans’ health. If you’re keen on industry findings, you may be familiar with them. If you’re new to the field or its emerging research, their name might be yet unknown to you. I would like to propose that the work of this institute and others like it is reshaping the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) around us in innumerable ways—and so it behooves us to pay attention.

While massage is often a standalone service in clinics or private practices (as in mine, I’ll admit), I’ve come to understand that research supporting the efficacy of our work is truly relevant if we are ever to be peers in comprehensive client/patient care. In short, I think CAM research is raising the bar for massage practitioners by generating quantitative and qualitative data meaningful to people outside of our field. Maybe you’re inclined to dismiss the importance of research regarding things you “already know,” e.g., that massage and complementary medicine are effective. I would suggest that the research isn’t necessarily for you, the practitioner. It’s for those who want nonnarrative-based support that CAM therapies work. Like it or not, the Western world craves scientifically validated results that go beyond empirical experience. So even if you yourself don’t need proof, are you willing to support agencies working nonstop to bolster our reputation to laypeople?

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What does “green” really mean?

Here is an editorial I wrote for Massage Magazine regarding “green” initiatives in massage and bodywork practices.

What steps has your company taken to be “green,” or environmentally responsible, in terms of how you run your business?
Building a community is one of the greenest things we can do, and to do this, we need to stay healthy—and stay in business. My business plan incorporates balance across the triple bottom line: social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and equitable fee structures. One key area for environmental stewardship is paper reduction. I recycle the minimal paper I use, but in fact most of my operation is online. I do all scheduling online and keep chart notes electronically. Also, most of my clients see me for Zero Balancing, which is received through clothing and thus doesn’t use sheets that need laundering.

What can massage therapists do to help Earth stay healthy?
We need to take care of ourselves mentally and physically, putting ourselves first. Like our clients, we take shortcuts when we get tired and worn down. These shortcuts typically have a negative impact: trash, food packaging, sugar, and so forth. Corporate Social Responsibility as business owners also commits us to as close to Zero Waste as possible!

How can massage therapists promote their healthy environmental practices to clients?
Most directly, by setting a good example in our offices regarding environmental, social, and economic choices. Provide recycle/compost bins for used paper towels, use mugs rather than disposable cups, use refillable and pure lotion/oil. Taking care of ourselves so as to model good health and be more effective therapists. Snacking on (and providing, if desired) healthy, whole foods rather than anything processed. Having solid business skills so we can leverage more than our hands in facilitating change.

How do your products or services promote or support a healthy environment?
By facilitating mental and physical health, I support my clients in making better decisions in their lives.

Anything else would you like to tell our readers, related to green or Earth-friendly environmental practices:
Earth-friendly means a lot more than environmental care for the Earth. Beneficial choices regarding food, attitudes, and whom we associate with are just as important in nurturing a healthy and growing community of practitioners.

Sustainability as the foundation for bodywork economics

It’s hip to be “green” these days. But what does this really mean? Does it entail big sacrifices or cost a lot of money? How green is “green”? And where do I draw the line? I mean, massage is pretty green already – and I do have to stay in business, right?

In 1987 the Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as that which “meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” [1] That’s a pretty lofty goal!

The language of sustainability seeks to understand how we impact people, planet, and profit. These three together are called the Triple Bottom Line [2] and look at the whole picture rather than just the traditional measure of business success: profit alone. One could say that the Triple Bottom Line looks at profit through the lens of sustainability as a holistic perspective rather than just a symptomatic one. When we use only one of the three to evaluate profitability, the others suffer. But with all three in balance, we can thrive.

Think of this project as you would a client with injuries serious enough to warrant working together for a long time. In your heart, remember to hold space for success and full recovery. You’ll be amazed at what’s available to you with a framework for sustainability at the root of each decision you make in your business and your life!

[1] 1987 Brundtland Commission report Our Common Future.

[2] Coined in 1994 by John Elkington (the founder of a British consultancy called SustainAbility). Nov 17 2009 | From The Economist online