How has Soma helped your career?
I really need to credit the instructors at Soma for providing a solid knowledge base. Understanding the anatomy and physiology has been essential, but developing communication skills has been invaluable. Soma helped me to understand the efficacy of massage therapy, and its role in pain and stress management.
After graduation, the staff at Soma has always helped me whenever I needed them. They’ve been quick to respond to all my questions. I value and appreciate that type of attention.
What have you enjoyed about your career?
I know this is a common answer, but I sincerely enjoy helping people. It is so rewarding to know that I have played a role in decreasing my clients’ pain, as well as helping to improve their flexibility and range of motion.
I’ve also enjoyed developing relationships with my clients. I work with professional athletes, senior citizens, pre- and post-operative patients, endurance cyclists, as well as “everyday” people dealing with pain and physical limitations. They often say that I’m the only person they’ve worked with who has taken the time to educate them about what is happening in their musculature. People often spend more time with their massage therapist than with their doctors or physical therapist. They trust us, and I think it’s critical that we educate our clients with ways they can help themselves through their own stretching and strengthening exercises. Even if that means I spend an extra five or ten minutes with them after the massage, it’s worth it.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that being a massage therapist is guiding my career path. I now have options that I never realized I wanted. I am currently in the process of applying to graduate schools so that I can pursue a master’s degree in public health. I want to advocate for better health education and equality in healthcare in underserved urban populations. Working so intimately with people on a daily basis has shown me that I can make a difference.
What challenges did you have to overcome during your career?
It has definitely been difficult to create a healthy work-life balance. I am also a licensed esthetician; once I graduated from Soma and began to offer massage therapy services, my clientele exploded. I’m not sure that I was emotionally or physically ready for that! I was booked solid - working 40 hours a week doing esthetics and massage, and I was exhausted.
I worked at that pace for a long time. It took awhile to figure out, but now I understand better how many clients I can see on a daily basis, while still being able to maintain my own emotional health.
I recently left my position in a more traditional “clinical” setting, and I started my own practice. I now have my own wellness studio onMichigan Avenue, and that allows me to have the time and space to work with clients individually, instead of at a frenetic pace. You can check out my website at www.UrbanWellnessStudio.com. I still have a difficult time saying “no” to people who are in pain and need treatment. But I am learning how to say “yes” to giving myself time to relax and enjoy life.