Several other people have contributed greatly to my thoughts on the topic of biopsychosocial massage, and a really profound discussion along those lines is currently going on in a social media group that I'm a part of.
I'm not going to quote those other people directly here, because they were speaking in a private group, and I respect their privacy. This lack of quotations, however, should not be interpreted to mean that I fail to recognize the influence that others have had, and continue to have, on these ideas that I'm developing here. I'll be very happy to acknowledge and cite those discussions that are not explicitly private.
I am very grateful for everyone who has mentored me and contributed to my professional development, and who continue to do so to this day.
I promise you that I will pay it forward.
Biopsychosocial massage is the practice of massage in a way that builds bridges to working on a unified team with biomedical healthcare providers by participating in the shared knowledge base of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors that influence health and illness.
That means that practitioners of biopsychosocial massage practice massage in a way that is compatible with the current state of the evidence. We don't create obstacles to being part of a unified team by making counterfactual and unsupportable claims about how massage works.
It facilitates our professional development as healthcare providers by putting the client at the center of knowledge and information. One of the most stressful situations in life is illness--by committing to a shared knowledge base and sending a unified message to the client as the rest of the team does, we do not add to the client's cognitive burden and stress load at a particularly difficult time by forcing them to do the additional work to try to sort out conflicting alternative and contradictory messages.
It means that we are honest about what we know, and what we don't know. That includes a responsibility to develop basic scientific literacy and critical thinking, in order to ground our perceptions and experiences in the larger context of what we know about the material physical universe around us. The "bio" aspect of "biopsychosocial" actually draws on many other natural sciences than just biology, and understanding the cohesive integration of the knowledge generated by all of those disciplines is crucial to an honest evaluation of what we really know about the world around us.
It means that we always need to be aware, at a very general level, of the fact that psychosocial factors can influence the state of a person's health, for better or for worse.
It means that we need to understand the difference between being a supportive layperson versus practicing psychotherapy, which--among other things--means listening supportively without giving advice or interpreting meaning.
It means we should know what the signs are that indicate someone is in greater psychological distress than we ourselves are equipped to help them with, and to have a plan for how to reach out to the larger psychotherapeutic community, either to assist them in getting help, or in our need for supervision or mentoring in processing what our clients bring to us.
It means that--no matter how we regard those particular sociocultural factors, for better or for worse--we recognize the profound effects those factors can have on the health status of our clients, and, to the best of our ability, we take those factors into account when we try to understand our clients' experiences.
It means that we recognize that the available research evidence will always lag behind immediate needs for information in the clinic, and so evidence-based practice will always remain an ideal or a goal as a result of that fact. Working practically in real life in the meantime, it means that we practice in a way that is based on the evidence, if available, and if evidence is not available then we at least practice in a way that is consistent with the larger body of knowledge about how the physical universe works.
It means that we put our responsibility to our clients above our attachment to particular ideas and claims--if claims about massage or other related topics repeatedly fail validation tests, we accept that fact, make our peace with it, and move on to what we do actually know that can be of benefit to our clients.
It does not mean at all that the subjective experience of meaning-making, or joy, or humor, or spontaneous feeling are off-limits--it simply means that we remain clear, to ourselves and to everyone else, on the differences between objective and subjective, mind-independent and mind-dependent, universal and unique, literal and metaphorical/allegorical, and fact and interpretation.
It does not mean at all that we are not open to new ideas--it simply means that, for the sake of our clients, we expect the advocates of those ideas to do the work of connecting the dots and showing how those ideas truly lead to positive outcomes for our clients, before we go on to regard those ideas and claims to actually have the status of validated knowledge.
Source: http://healthskills.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/biopsychosocial.jpg accessed 7 August 2012