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In this Post: We go in-depth with practitioner Emily Attard. Emily specializes in mobile massage in Weeki Wachee, FL, and is passionate about the under-recognized connection massage plays in healthcare.
With relatively few studies conducted to back evidence-based benefits of massage, it can be hard to convince the medical community that massage should indeed play an active role in healthcare. Chiropractors and physical therapists actively bill insurance companies for code 97124 (code 97124 is “Massage, including effleurage, petrissage, and/or tapotement (stroking, compression, percussion)”). Yet, we as massage therapists have a harder time getting reimbursed or even recognized for work that is clearly within our scope.
Emily aims to draw that connection!
Mobile Massage in Weeki Wachee, FL with Emily Attard
Emily, how long have you been practicing massage? Where are you located? And what type of work do you specialize in?
I have been practicing massage since March 2021. After graduating from the Massage Program at Withlacoochee Technical College in Inverness, Florida. My Mobile Massage Therapy business is based in Weeki Wachee, FL. I also do contract work for Rehability Prosthetics in Spring Hill, FL, where they also offer PT/OT and Aquatic Therapy.
My work focuses on medical massage and rehabilitative protocols. I am currently working towards a certification in Manual Lymph Drainage. My goal is to specialize in massage therapy for those who have undergone joint replacement surgeries, healing from soft tissue injuries, and scar tissue management.
What made you decide to get into the field of massage?
I have a real fascination with how the human body works. How it is put together anatomically, and the way the nervous system can be “talked to” through massage therapy. My degree in Health Sciences from the University of South Florida gave me a solid human anatomy and physiology foundation. This is the stuff I’m passionate about, so getting into the field of massage therapy just made sense! But it took me a while to take the leap.
As a college triathlete, entering the massage field had been in the back of my mind since my 2008-2011 USF days. I had a part-time job at Massage Envy as a receptionist while in college. And enjoyed the benefits of massage while training and competing. However, looking back, I definitely did not get massage as much as I should have. But I thought, hey maybe I could do this as a career one day.
Fast forward to 2020, after a few career changes, I worked as a bank teller in a financial institution. It was a good-paying job, but I did not want to spend the next 30 years sitting behind a computer doing something I wasn’t excited about. I was ready to take the leap and finally get into the massage therapy field. With my husband’s full support, I quit my job in the middle of a pandemic and enrolled in the Massage Therapy Program at WTC.
What excites you most about the massage industry?
I would have to say the time period the massage industry is currently in excites me. Learning where it has come from and the challenges the profession has had to overcome, to where it is going and growing into the medical profession that it should be. Chiropractic and acupuncture had similar challenges with their perception by consumers and the medical community. I’m really excited about being part of that change and educating the public and other healthcare professionals about the emerging evidence of what massage therapy can do. To me, other medical professionals should take our field more seriously as a piece of the healthcare puzzle. Increasing numbers of consumers are looking to massage therapy as an alternative treatment to opioids for chronic pain management. There is a shift happening in the perception of what massage therapy is. I am excited to be part of that.
Do you consider yourself a healthcare professional? If so, why?
Absolutely! Don’t get me wrong, I do not put myself at the same level as Medical Doctors or Orthopedic Surgeons. But, that’s not to say I don’t have valuable insight and input as an LMT. Much like a Formula 1 race pit crew, I may not be the Crew Chief, but I am on the same team, and we all work toward a common goal.
I also believe that being considered a “healthcare professional” has much to do with how you conduct yourself. If you’re a hot mess express and don’t present yourself as a professional in your line of work, how can you expect to be considered one?
Do you consider all massage therapists healthcare professionals?
In my eyes, massage therapy complements what Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Orthopedic Surgeons, Mental Health Professionals, and Medical Doctors are doing for their patients, so I say yes. But, this is a question I know many massage therapists out there disagree on.
I had a discussion in an online forum with another LMT. They did not consider themselves a healthcare professional because they worked in a spa setting. Bringing up that even though nail salon technicians and estheticians are licensed through the Dept of Health, that does not make them “healthcare professionals.” But I countered that Dentists, MDs, and Orthos are also licensed through the Dept of Health and are healthcare professionals, so why couldn’t a Licensed Massage Therapist not be one also? Even a therapeutic massage focusing on a client’s relaxation and stress reduction has been shown to positively benefit their health, so how is that not healthcare?
What changes/evolutions do you hope to see in the massage industry?
As a “new kid on the block” therapist, I understand I don’t have the insight of a therapist who has been in the industry for 10, 20, or 25 years. But I would love to see more opportunities for massage therapists to shadow/intern with other medical professionals in clinical settings. Especially if we, as a whole, want to move the industry and profession to be more widely considered as “healthcare” by consumers and other medical professionals.
Another change we are seeing in our industry is a desire for more portability of licensure from state to state. It would be great to see more equilibrium in the minimum number of educational hours. I’d also like to see all 50 states use the MBLEx as the entry-level exam.
Anything else you would like to share?
I’d like to share a quote I read recently from author Caroline Myss. This quote resonated with me as a new LMT and a first-time business owner.
“Always go with the choice that scares you the most because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”
Quitting my “safe” job in the middle of a pandemic to pursue my dream career. Entering into a profession that experienced a shut-down due to COVID. Starting my very first business and building from the ground up. Reaching out to other medical professionals in my area to market my skills and talk about how massage therapy could benefit their patients. Investing in myself and joining an online business coaching course, Massage In The Real World, created by a seasoned massage therapist.
All of these choices were scary and intimidating. But I am so grateful to my past self for choosing the scary stuff. It was work, but I’m excited at the growth I’ve seen in myself. I encourage my fellow LMTs to look at their goals, what they aspire to be and choose the scary stuff. Because you can do hard things, your future self will thank you later.
What do you think we as practitioners can do to help our field be taken more seriously, thus rendering us a more viable part of the healthcare puzzle?
I feel that encouraging therapists to get involved with case studies, reading up on emerging massage research (or getting involved in that too!), and staying within our scope of practice are some actions that can help our field be taken more seriously. Also, if the current healthcare system and more insurance companies would cover massage therapy, I feel that would help too. But talking about insurance companies is opening up a whole can of worms!
I really liked what Becca said in “Episode 10: Yoga, Self-care, and Askholes” of Align with The Massage Business Mama. She said we are soft tissue specialists and that “we empower our clients through information and not prescription.” She is talking about staying within our scope when recommending after-care/self-care to our clients. I really felt like that hit the nail on the head. Empowering and encouraging our clients to be participants in the process. They are finding the information that works for them and their wellness goals.
While many massage therapists branch out and get certifications in complementary areas (yoga, energy work, nutrition/wellness, personal trainer, etc.), it is crucial that therapists stay within their scope in their words and actions based on what they are actually qualified for/certified in. I cringe when I hear an LMT recommend supplements or meal replacement shakes when they do not have the nutritional certification to do so…Or tell their clients that “toxins” are being released from the tissues. Cellular/metabolic waste and excess lactic acid are not “toxins.” Other medical professionals roll their eyes at any LMT that says it is.
How can someone find you and experience your work?
To learn more about the services I offer, or get in contact to schedule a session, please visit my website.
Or you can reach me at email@example.com.
So there you have it! It has been an honor and pleasure getting to know Emily during our time together inside Massage In The Real World. Emily’s passion is contagious! Her attention to detail is evident in all that she does. If you are looking for mobile massage in Weeki Wachee, FL, you’ve got to give Emily a shout! I am certain she won’t disappoint! And, just as Emily aims to elevate the massage industry, I hope you do to!
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008
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