She is labelled massage therapist. So am I. Does what she say have an impact on me? Yes. Does it matter if she is 5 or 10 or 20 miles away from me? No - there's still an impact on me because she belongs to the same *profession*.
Massage is bigger than any of us; it will ultimately survive MTs making fantastic unsubstantiated claims, or naming famous clients they've worked on, or posting suggestive pictures of themselves, or labeling things they don't like as "retarded" . But those actions still have a negative impact in the eyes of clients and other stakeholders.
Many people don't like confrontation or conflict. However, when something negative and detrimental to clients is going on, professionalism means we have an affirmative duty--we must act, we must make the effort--to stand up to it. It's one of the constraints placed on professionals above and beyond what most people have the ethical obligation to do.
We can be professional in tone when we do so; we don't have to resort to personal attacks or insults. Sticking to the facts is enough to make our point, and to show that we are serious about the issues.
Jen Gunter, a Canadian OB/GYN, author, and blogger, tells the story in a recent post of how she spoke up when she went to a continuing education lecture advertised as "evidence-based", but which turned out to be mostly the speakers' opinions and conflicts of interest. She ends her post on a powerful note:
Remember, we are ALL curators of medicine. All the time.
Similarly, we are ALL curators of massage. All the time.
The word "curator" has the meanings of "to take care of" and "entrusted" built into it. Some ways that we can live up to the care of massage that has been entrusted to us include:
- We can provide the best massage that we are capable of for clients/patients, based on our experience integrated with lifelong learning and client feedback;
- We can advocate for sharing high-quality, warranted, validated information about the effects and mechanisms of massage among MTs and with clients/patients and other professional colleagues on the healthcare team;
- We can work to provide that high-quality information, and build resources to support future generations of MTs in gettting solid professional educations;
- We can stand up to abuses of power (bullying, verbal violence, threats, and so forth) when we witness them being committed;
- We can speak up when we witness ethical violations being committed;
- We can speak up when we witness behavior that damages massage in the eyes of stakeholders.
Can you think of others?
Words and actions have power. How are you using your power to represent massage therapy to other stakeholders?