Here in the United States, the changes occurring in our healthcare system offer us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to decide where we want to take our future.
And deciding not to decide is not really an option for maintaining the status quo, or current situation--if we take the path of not deciding, then history will decide blindly for us. History, however, does not have a good track record of deciding in ways that take people's wants, needs, and aspirations into account.
I think that until we decide which path we want to commit to, we are going to make very little progress in our journey.
And the idea that we can commit to both at once sounds nice, but it doesn't work, because the different paths go in different directions from each other.
To decide to remain alternative means that we don't have to worry about working with other healthcare practitioners as part of a unified professional team--the word "alternative" means that we are offering a different belief system to use instead of committing to a shared body of healthcare knowledge. We don't have to do anything differently from what we are already doing, because we are not moving toward any different status.
To decide to become integrative, on the other hand, means a great deal of self-awareness, commitment, and work on our part. It feels unfair that we have so much work yet to do, after all that we have already done, and yet--without the additional commitment to gaining access to a shared body of healthcare knowledge--we are never going to be able to sit at the table as full members of a united team.
To make a commitment either to remaining alternative or to becoming an integrative healthcare profession revolves around, among others, the following issues. Unless we are just going to sit back and let history decide for us, we need to honestly, openly, transparently, professionally, and civilly discuss answers to questions such as:
- Is belief in a specific conceptualization of energy work and spirit that directly contradicts the evidence of what we know from science about the material physical world, such as is laid out in the MTBoK, a litmus test for massage therapy?
- Do we want to commit publicly to a definition of energy that has repeatedly been demonstrated to be flawed and oversimplified, or do we want to keep the option of integrating with healthcare specialties that accept modern sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and biology?
- Do we want to commit publicly to uncritically accepting studies whose methodology is poor, provided we like their results?
- Do we want to commit publicly, as a whole, to favoring practitioners and clients with one set of beliefs over those with another, or do we want to leave beliefs to each individual's conscience?
- Do we want to publicly commit to contradicting findings of modern neuroscience, or is there a place for massage to accept and integrate more and more of what we are learning about the brain?
- Do we value the other professional members of the healthcare team, or do we value more the ability to speculate publicly about how--unlike us--they're motivated only by the crass and venal financial motives of keeping people sick?
- What do we want other massage stakeholders--clients, other healthcare practitioners, any other person who has some interest in massage--to see about us in the way we present ourselves publicly?