Massage Therapy


I contributed to this article in Massage Magazine by Christina DeBusk

When it comes to journaling, people tend to either love it or hate it, according to those who frequently write about the subject.

If you love it, then you likely already know the value this particular activity can provide.

But if you fall into the latter category and just can’t seem to get yourself to sit down and put your feelings on paper, you might just change your mind once you understand how much this one action can benefit you and your massage therapy business.

Benefits of Journaling as a Massage Therapist

Journaling is probably best known for its psychological benefits. New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) lists a few of them on its website, some of which include: easing anxiety, reducing stress and relieving depression.

URMC also stresses how journaling has positive effects on your mood. This is beneficial in massage therapy because most clients prefer a happy therapist versus a therapist who seems angry or sad.

A good mood tends to be contagious, enabling you to have an even more positive effect on the health and welfare of your clients.

Basically, when you’re relaxed and in a good place mentally as a massage therapist, your clients will find it easier to be more relaxed and in a better mental space when they’re with you. You’re also better able to focus on reading your client’s body, because you won’t be sidetracked by negative emotions floating in and out of your head during your massage sessions.

Journaling has physical benefits as well. In an article published by Psych CentralMaud Purcell, L.C.S.W., C.E.A.P., shares that research confirms this , noting that various studies have connected the act of journaling with healthier immune cell response, fewer symptomatic issues with conditions like asthma, and partial relief of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, in February 2010, a literature review was published in the American Journal of Public Health and it looked at a variety of creative outlets and the impact they had on physical health.

What the researchers discovered is that those who express themselves regularly have reported experiencing greater control of their physical pain, less fatigue, fewer sleep issues and improvements related to physical disabilities, just to name a few.

How can you enjoy all of these benefits, mental and physical, especially if you’re new to the art journaling?

Fortunately, the answer to this question is fairly simple as it involves following a short, 3-step process.

Step 1: Decide Your Journaling Type

Typically when people hear the word “journal,” they envision a notebook full of lines, which is where you place your thoughts, feelings and concerns expressed in words. While this traditional form of journaling is probably still one of the most used formats today, other types of journals do exist. One is a visual journal.

Covers from Kathy Morelli’s visual journal

A visual journal is a journal where you use images, pictures, shapes and patterns to convey whatever is on your mind. Kathy Morelli, L.M.T., C.A., L.P.C., is both a massage therapist and a licensed professional counselor in Wayne, New Jersey, and she says that she has been visual journaling for almost 50 years, starting when she was just 12 years old.

“I write and also use magazine pictures, oils pastels, markers, and colored pencils to express fluid emotionality, in a right brain type of way,” says Morelli. “This helps me ground myself, to think things through, [and] to explore issues with both my right and left brain … logically and emotionally.”

How do you know which type of journal—a word journal or a visual journal—is right for you?

If you find it relatively easy to communicate what you’re feeling and thinking using your language of choice, then a word journal is probably the way to go.

However, if you find more release in creating some type of imagery, such as by painting or drawing, then you’ll probably find a visual journal more helpful to getting your feelings out.

Step 2: Determine Your Journal Size (Think Logistics)

A second factor to consider when journaling is logistics. In other words, what size journal will work best for you given wherever it is you intend to use it?

Ideally, you don’t want one that is so big that you’ll never get it out and use it, but you also don’t want one so small that you’re constantly losing or misplacing it.

Morelli says that, while her journal of choice is actually a large spiral sketchbook, she does have more than one, keeping an 8 x 11-inch journal for travel and a larger 16 x 25-inch journal for home. When selecting the size of your journal then, think about where it is you intend to journal and make your decision from there.

If you will always journal at home, for instance, then you can probably get away with something that is larger in size because you won’t have to move it.

Or, you can do what Morelli does and use two, one for travel and one for when you’re in the comfort of your own surroundings.

Step 3: Ask (And Answer) the Right Questions

Once you have your journal and are ready to use it, the next and final step is to decide what you’re going to journal about. Rachel Beider, L.M.T., is the owner of Massage Williamsburg, and she says that, while she uses her small, portable notebook to help her “stay on top of my dreams, goals, and emotional check-ins,” it’s the questions that she answers in her journal that help push her in the right direction.

“A question that often comes up for me as inspiration to journal is: What has shifted?” shares Beider. “Sometimes noticing these small, subtle changes is helpful for me and helps me answer much bigger questions while staying on a path that’s true to my values and goals.”

Essentially, this is the heart of journaling, which is to figure out what is going on inside of you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This helps you correct any problems you face, resolve any impending issues that have been bothersome, and ease your troubled mind.

When all is said and done, journaling not only makes you feel better mentally and physically, but it also helps you become a better massage therapist, keeping you in tune with yourself so you can also be more in tune with your clients. That makes it an action that is worth doing, even if you don’t initially like it.

Who knows? You may just change your mind when you see what a positive impact it has on your personal and professional life.

How to Start and Grow Your Practice - Cortiva Institute Workshop

Cortiva Institute Wellness Business Consulting

I was so impressed with my students this week at the Cortiva Institute of Massage Therapy! It was an intimate group, and we were able to really focus on individual concerns, taking a deeply personal approach to explore and support each student's goals. I heard a lot of seriously positive feedback, and enjoyed the beautiful and modern campus! I will be teaching a more in-depth version of the workshop again in February, stay tuned for details!

Exciting News! My massage practice is expanding to Greenpoint!

Massage Greenpoint Coming Soon

I'm so thrilled to announce the expansion of Massage Williamsburg to Massage Greenpoint, in (you guessed it..) Greenpoint! The studio will be opening it's doors soon on Greenpoint Avenue between Franklin and West. I can't wait to show you the lovely exposed brick, lofted ceilings, and beautiful peaceful treatment rooms!

As with any business that I start, I like to create a combination of space to be used for my massage practice, as well as to foster community and support within the space. I will be opening up a few rooms to local practitioners, to create a Coworking Space for Healers within my center. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you know of anyone looking for a beautiful space to practice in. 

With Love and So Much Gratitude!

Rachel Beider

Inspiring Client Meeting: Massage Student

I had a fantastic meeting this morning with a very enthusiastic Swedish Institute student, studying massage therapy. She was desperately excited to learn how to start a private practice. I love working with students and recent graduates, because at the start of their career, they have so much excitement and enthusiasm, and it's infectious and inspiring to be around that sort of energy. Over the course of our conversation, we got further into what really excites her, and worked together to identify who her ideal clients are. She's super stoked to work with dancers, in particular, but doesn't know where to begin. We started to brainstorm together about where her ideal clients are, and I pointed her in the direction of SCHOOLS. What's wonderful about being a student and soon-to-be graduate, is that she's immersed in students. I encouraged her towards looking for dance students - especially schools like Juilliard, Fordham, and LaGuardia. If she can identify, reach out in a friendly way, and connect with even one dance student, it get's her foot in the door to start working on others via referrals. I suggest with anyone getting excited to start a business, especially while just out of school, to offer your services for free or at a discount, in the beginning. Think of it as good practice, which you need, as well as an investment in that person and their potential referrals. Also, if you're currently a student, this is the best time to start working on your social media presence and start putting it out there via Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, which is essentially free advertising, and an opportunity to interact with and connect with others.