Til Luchau: This episode is sponsored by ABMP, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. I love ABMP. Their membership combines, as they say, the insurance you need, the free CE you want including a lot of webinars with myself and with Whitney, and the personal service you deserve featuring the dynamic new five-minute muscles review app with muscle-specific palpation and technique videos and the award-winning massage and bodywork magazine where Whitney and I are both frequent contributors. Thanks, ABMP for making this podcast possible.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. It’s easy to see why members love ABMP. I’ve been a member for years and it’s clear the organization is driven to offer loads of key benefits to their members and their primary focus is on delivering exceptional opportunities and services. For our listeners who join ABMP as new members, you can save $24 by going to abmp.com/thinking. So with ABMP, you can expect more.
Whitney Lowe: All right. Good morning, Til. How are you this morning out there in the high country of Colorado?
Til Luchau: Pretty great. Whitney, how about yourself?
Whitney Lowe: Doing well. Just back in town after the AMTA National Convention this past weekend, which was, it’s always an adventure to see all kinds of great people out there, meet new folks, see some old folks, and get reinspired about why we do the things that we do so that was, it was good to be out there I think.
Til Luchau: AMTA is the American Massage Therapy Association. That was, you went to Indiana this year?
Whitney Lowe: Yes. Indianapolis.
Til Luchau: Indianapolis?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: Those were a lot of fun.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. My first time in Indiana. I like the city. It was a nice place.
Til Luchau: That’s cool.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: I’m packing up getting ready to go to Europe for three weeks. Four trainings in three weeks.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Tell me again where you’re headed in Europe? Where are you off to?
Til Luchau: Start in Oslo then Warsaw, London, and finish up in Ireland.
Whitney Lowe: Wow. You’ve got courses in each one of those cities?
Til Luchau: Yeah. That’s right.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. That’s great. I’m always curious when I see people doing a lot of these types of international events. Tell me how that works with language and translation? You’re doing your whole class in English and is everybody English skills, have their English skills good enough or do you have interpreters
Til Luchau: Yeah. It depends on the place. In Norway, they’re so good. I tried to get them to have translation but they go, “No. We’re good.” They are. They’re really good. Poland, yeah. I have a clear polish translator. London, I could use a translator but we work it out. We’re all right. We did good. We’ll have to see about Ireland. This will be my first time in Ireland.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Now, when you have a translator, how does that impact your … I’m one of those sticklers for timing of getting through things at a certain time. How does that work with the translator since you’re kind of saying everything double?
Til Luchau: I have to say less.
Whitney Lowe: Uh-huh (affirmative). Yeah.
Til Luchau: That’s it.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: Makes me better.
Whitney Lowe: Right. I guess the translator has to be moderately proficient in anatomical terminology and things like that as well.
Til Luchau: That’s right. Yeah. Usually, it’s a practitioner or a university student or somebody who’s really good in the field already. Great translators.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Well, that’s really cool. I’ll look forward to hearing a report of how the international adventure went and we did mention there was a good possibility we might be doing some of our recordings while you’re away so maybe we’ll get a mid-trip check-in and see how things are going.
Til Luchau: Okay. Yeah.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Good. Well, today, what I was thinking today, we might take a big 35,000-foot view since we did a deep dive on our last episode on sacroiliac issues and really drill down into some detail that we might take a big expansive view today and talk about some of the top challenges facing our field. Basically, I’m calling our field the world of soft tissue manual therapy regardless of where you are in that as a massage therapist, athletic trainer, PT, OT, whatever you see yourself-
Til Luchau: Structural integration practitioner-
Whitney Lowe: Structural integration, yes.
Til Luchau: …worker, all that stuff.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. All that stuff. I think there’s a lot of similar challenges across our different subspecialties that we run into but also some really things that are unique to those particular fields in general. I want to just talk about what are some of those big things that we see impacting us right now and where we may be going a little bit in the future? What I thought we’d do maybe is sort of like try to see if we could rattle off maybe what are some of our top three challenges that we see facing this particular sort of playing field coming up for us right now? What do you say… Is there something that comes off the top of your list at that point of biggest challenge that you see facing us?
Til Luchau: Yeah. Well, just to give you a little bit of background. I had a little bit of a hard time with this. First off, the challenge part, I was a little leery about. I was reluctant to go into because… I mean, not that we shouldn’t talk about these things, we should, but that my concern is there’s so many challenges facing us now that it would be easy to get overwhelmed. You saw that I put that question, what are the biggest challenges facing our field right now on my Facebook page and-
Whitney Lowe: If we ran to something some hundred something different responses.
Til Luchau: Yeah. I printed those out this morning. I was going to go through them. I’m not even through them yet. It’s 30… 2 pages of printed out responses. There’s a lot of challenges that people are aware of and facing and there’s a certain mood around sometimes too. I don’t know if you, I don’t know what your experience was like at the conference but sometimes what those things there’s just different moods about.
Whitney Lowe: There clearly is. Yeah. I think that’s it’s interesting that we hit this topic right now. For me, at least, after that particularly, after the last weekend at the conference because one of the things that I really do like about going to those events is getting to sit down and have conversations with people from all over the country and some people from outside the country as well and talk about these things. What are the big challenges that we see facing us as a group and how should we tackle them? How should we move forward with them?
Til Luchau: That’s right, and then because I see part of my job as opening possibilities for the people that work with me. It helped me to reframe it for myself as challenges and opportunities, not to put a silver lining on any of it, not to say it was not hard, it’s all really hard, but each one of those challenges does open up some possibilities there too.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think every challenge is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for growth and doing new and different things. I think that’s great. What are we, what kind of world problems are we going to solve here today? What did you find?
Til Luchau: Well, I have no idea what yours are, you have no idea what mine is and I, it’s hard to order them too. I had a hard time coming up with three first of all. Let me just start on what might be the biggest one and maybe the one I think about least honestly, but it might actually be the biggest one in the background and that is the aging practitioner population. The fact that all of us are aging and the average age, at least, in the US practitioners is going up along with the demographic of the population that we serve as well.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Tell me a little bit about that in terms of the aging population of the practitioners. You feel like the practitioners are getting older in relation to just general averages? Is that what you’re saying?
Til Luchau: The average age of the practitioner is getting older so that more and more people in our training are facing different issues as they go from, started in their 20s, 30s, maybe 40s. Now, they’re moving to 50s, 60s or 70s, they’re thinking, “I want to work in a different way.” Maybe I don’t want to keep the same pace so maybe it’s this work is, maybe my body is giving me some feedback or giving me some challenges too that I got to figure how to work with.
Til Luchau: I hear that a lot in my trainings and the people I speak with that a lot of people are going, “Well, now how do I pay for my expenses even as I go into my latter years?” Those kind of challenges.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I want to ask a question, I want to delve into that a little bit of your sense about that with the aging population because I would have to say that my perspective would be the reverse on that mainly coming out of, looking at the demographics of the… Now, again, my bias, of course, is I’ve spent the majority of my world looking in the massage therapy world. I’m looking at the average age of student populations of who’s entering the field and it’s gone way down from a couple decades ago when we’re seeing a whole lot more second career people, life change people coming into the programs and now it’s a lot of people right out of high school or really young looking to get into doing this now.
Whitney Lowe: What is your sense about that? Is that maybe the people drawn more towards advanced training modules, the kind of things that you’re doing as opposed to entry-level training? What do you think about that?
Til Luchau: That’s certainly a possibility from within my little bubble. Certainly, the population is getting older but, yeah. I’m really aware that the age and the entry-level age has been dropping. The average age of classes goes down, while the average age of the practitioner body is to my impressions going up and I’m just trying to goggle some quick statistics here. Getting overall numbers. If I find something I’ll put them in the show notes. I don’t want to take our time now but, no. I don’t, it’s probably both. I’d say the upper end of the industry we’re getting older. At the entry end or the glide into the tunnel probably getting younger.
Whitney Lowe: That also brings up another interesting factor that because I think we do have a population bubble of age for our clientele also. What that means is the types of things or reasons that might bring people in to see a manual therapist might begin to be more age-related issues and things like that and that might change some of the way that we look at the things that we’re doing.
Whitney Lowe: I know that by the time, at the time, when you and I probably first certainly, you getting started on this before I did, we’re probably seeing a lot more people that were coming into this work as choice for life enhancement and feeling better and doing better things to enhance their health and well-being as opposed to what now might be a greater percentage of people looking at this as like, “I need help because I’m in pain from being old” or whatever, those kinds of things are.
Til Luchau: That’s true. The aging demographic of our clientele is changing the ways that we work and the needs that they have too.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Right.
Til Luchau: All right. Anything else you want to say about that or you want to give my upsides?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Let’s hear the upsides on that. Yeah.
Til Luchau: Yeah. The upsides of aging. We get to age, we get to come to terms with aging in a graceful way. I mean, that’s the biggest challenge facing all of us at some point in our lives whether you’re younger or old now, it’s we’re going to get old. Finding out how to do that in a way that is graceful is actually perhaps healthy and pleasurable is a life challenge and a worthy challenge. That’s the one that’s facing us there, and people tend to get smarter.
Til Luchau: There was a big study across a bunch of different industries about worker productivity, the debate for years being younger, workers are faster, and so should, so we should we get rid of the older workers so the younger workers can help our economy be more productive. It turns out that there was pretty even productivity across the whole age spectrum. The difference being younger workers were clearly faster and worked harder, the older workers were a lot smarter and knew how to get what they needed to done without as much brain damage in it, as much work.
Til Luchau: The upside of that aging is the maturing and the wisdom process of getting better at work and orienting around struggling less or not working so hard and there’s ways that we do that. The other thing I came up with, Whitney, was because of the importance that we’re seeing to the therapeutic alliance that aging or maturing that we all do those practitioners makes us all better at that I think.
Whitney Lowe: I was going to ask you that because that thought came to me as you were talking about this that, for example, I think, at least, what I tend to see is in the younger practitioners who’ve not been in the field as long… Well, there’s two factors here. One is that as we get older if people want to keep doing this in their profession and recognize and acknowledge it is very physical work, if they often begin looking for ways to decrease the impact on their bodies.
Til Luchau: That’s right.
Whitney Lowe: Looking for ways to work that are not as physically impactful.
Til Luchau: That’s really a good thing.
Whitney Lowe: But I think the other thing is early on practitioners when they’re looking for some sense of both validation for what they’re doing and looking for tools and abilities to help make them better often do pursue a lot more of I need to learn specific techniques and modalities and learn specific things, whereas the more aged and experienced practitioners might recognize that that might become a little bit less important and what becomes more important is recognizing the power of that therapeutic relationship that is engendered with so many individuals regardless of a variety of different things that you might be doing with your hands.
Til Luchau: It becomes who we are even more than what we do.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think that can be a little bit of a sticky and sensitive perspective because you, at least, I’ll say this, at least, for me. I don’t want to say what you do isn’t important and give the inclination that it doesn’t matter, but I will say, at least, from my personal perspective of the longer I’ve gone on doing this and the more things that I’ve done and learned, the less that I think that’s a really crucial piece so exactly what I’m doing with my hands and exactly what is happening to physiological tissues and the more important things are really a lot more about what happens in that therapeutic alliance process that you were mentioning.
Til Luchau: I’m right with you
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. That will be I think topics that we will probably dive into in great detail down the road here as well.
Til Luchau: Yeah.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: What do you think? You got one, you had a challenge?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I’ve got the one that’s on the top of my list is the one that I have been on a soapbox about for a couple of decades as something that we somehow or need to solve, an issue that we need to solve or look to find a way to address this. Again, this is speaking through my particular bias as a massage therapist and that is the split personality of our profession in that we are essentially training in terms of the types of occupational situations and places where people end up working as both a personal care service, for that phrase being used to refer to individuals working in spas, salons, cruise ships, and things like that.
Whitney Lowe: Then, another side of that being those that are working with more of a health care approach.
Til Luchau: Got you.
Whitney Lowe: They’re both extremely valid perspectives but the big problem that we have is that we have one training track at entry-level that’s trying to train people for both those different occupational directions. I think we do a pretty good job of training people for the personal care service track at the current entry-level training standards.
Til Luchau: What did you tell that? The split personality? The split-
Whitney Lowe: Split personality. Yeah.
Til Luchau: Nice.
Whitney Lowe: Right.
Til Luchau: Yeah.
Whitney Lowe: Because we really are those two different divisions and like I said, I think we’re doing a good job at training people for the personal care service track at the entry-level with the current training requirements that we have but a woefully inadequate level of training people to be healthcare professionals at that level, and that’s the dilemma because people who enter this profession who don’t want to pursue a healthcare practice don’t want to have a training program that is way longer and way more than they need to be doing but those who need to find some way to pursue that kind of training and have it available.
Whitney Lowe: Right now, there are really aren’t any structured programs out there that really fit that bill. I think that’s led to all kinds of discussions about, “Well, hey, well, maybe we should have advanced degree programs. We should have college-level degree programs for those that want to pursue healthcare and things like that.” I think that is certainly one option but I also think that may not be the best strategy for us either because there’s a lot of, at least, personally, I think there’s a lot of problems with what’s going on currently in traditional academic degree programs about making them both affordable, current, relevant, and are they the most appropriate training model for what we’re trying to train people to do in more advanced level practice?
Til Luchau: You’re not sure if it’s the right way to go about it?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: Do you have a sense of what you would like to see?
Whitney Lowe: Ideally, what I would like to see, and I think maybe this will be a stepping stone that maybe there will be a day down the road where we might have more traditional academic programs but I’m troubled by a lot of what is happening in traditional higher education at the college and university levels with the escalating tuition rates and people coming out not having the skills that the job market says they need to have in these kinds of instances.
Whitney Lowe: You really have to look at that return on investment for your education, say, “Is this really going to be worth it for a long term career?” There’s a lot of massage therapists who don’t stay in this career for that long and so those are some real challenges. But back to what you were asking, it seems as if many of the really higher-level skills that are more important and requisite for working in those kinds of environments, at least, some of them, a significant amount of them might become in more specialized credentialed programs of some kind, where are you doing almost like rotations in these particular specialized areas. Somebody might take your whole training program-
Til Luchau: I was going to say I know a couple of those programs.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. That might become a qualification for some type of more advanced credential because this gets into a lot of other logistical issues. For example, lots of people want to see massage therapy becoming a much more significant part of the opportunities and options available for people in the healthcare system. For example-
Til Luchau: A career is it in massage therapy or as a patient?
Whitney Lowe: No. Not necessarily. Massage therapy as a treatment option.
Til Luchau: As a treatment option, yes.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. For various types of healthcare problems and that also gets into the issues of, well, will it be reimbursed by insurance? The insurance companies will say, “Well, wait a minute. You guys don’t have adequate education for being able to do this kind of stuff. We want to, we would consider reimbursing that if your training was different.”
Whitney Lowe: Again, they’ve been for years looking for a way to credential practitioners in our area to determine that they had those kinds of advanced skills. There’s a lot of dilemmas that come out of that whole split personality thing I think challenge facing us.
Til Luchau: Well, that one there, insurance coverage got mentioned a lot on that Facebook post, and then both sides of it, probably more people saying, “Yeah. We should be getting insurance coverage for our work.” But there were a significant number people saying, “Well, actually, that’s… We don’t want to go there.” That’s some of the debate in the field too.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. It is unfortunate that currently in our healthcare system, the ability to have insurance available whether you choose to use it or choose to bill it or choose to pursue that or not, the ability to be able to is often one of the indicators of you being a valid healthcare profession. That’s one of the reasons that I think that is still getting pursued very strongly even by some of the people who say, “Look, I don’t personally want to go there.”
Whitney Lowe: I mean, I know I’ve talked to a lot of chiropractors, physical therapists, and other people whose practices are built around the insurance model who will tell you, “Man, if I could find a way out of doing this, I would.”
Til Luchau: Oh, yeah.
Whitney Lowe: The insurance industries are cracking down so much in the, it becomes such a administrative nightmare to do that.
Til Luchau: Yeah. What a two-sided coin accessible and yet the practitioners in it and all other fields are saying, “Boy, I wish I had a practice where I didn’t rely on that.”
Whitney Lowe: Right. Now, just on the flip side of that, and I’ll just make a shout out to some exceptional work that goes in that direction. I had a very good conversation with Nicole Miller who’s doing some wonderful work with the Veterans Administration and trying to get massage therapy into the VA as a covered healthcare option for veterans dealing with PTSD and all kinds of other musculoskeletal problems that come out of being in warfare.
Whitney Lowe: That’s an insurance system that will need to have some kind of processes in place for looking at the use of that. That’s a very different animal than the traditional healthcare insurance process. But, again, for that to work, they’re going to need some type of systems, standards or processes or credentialing things to determine who should really be working into that system. It is, if I’m not mistaken I think the largest healthcare system in the country
Til Luchau: I know it’s huge and I know it struggles on a number of fronts but I also know that if they suspect something will be useful they pursue it. They have that ability. It’s not all about cost analysis. It’s about, “Is this really going to help the people who need help?”
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Absolutely. Each one of these things I think holds tremendous opportunities for us along with the challenges that are there and I think it’s wonderfully fortunate that we have some really talented individuals working on these kinds of things. We just need a lot more dialogue and a lot more investigation into this and people to come to it with an open mind and looking at both the pros and cons of it because there certainly are, there are people who will, for example, look at something like medical reimbursement for massage as a golden goose egg and thinking that that’s going to answer so many problems for us and I think it really isn’t. I think it’s, that’s a very double-edged sword. It has benefits and drawbacks for us.
Til Luchau: You ever had geese? They’re a lot of work. Yeah. A lot of work.
Whitney Lowe: I have
Til Luchau: They make a mess.
Whitney Lowe: … because my wife does wild bird rehabilitation so we’ve ended up with a number of geese at different times. Yes. They are in fact a mess.
Til Luchau: That’s what I thought… Yeah.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Well, I’ve had some relatively unique experiences. I’ve had a trumpeter swan in my house, which is probably not a very common thing as well.
Til Luchau: Wow.
Whitney Lowe: They’re a lot bigger than the geese. They’re 22-pound bird with a 5-foot wingspan.
Til Luchau: The golden goose isn’t all it might appear?
Whitney Lowe: That’s right. Yeah.
Til Luchau: Well, anything else you want to say about that?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I mean, we could go on obviously for a very long time and I think we will probably touch on some of these topics in some of our other episodes as we do, but we’ve got a couple other things that I wanted to see if we get hit on as well.
Til Luchau: Why don’t we take a pause right there and we’ll come back in and jump in on some of these other topics here, after we hear from our halftime sponsor Books of Discovery.
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Whitney Lowe: What will be next on your list? What’s another challenge/opportunity?
Til Luchau: Not only was it hard to get down to three but it was hard to order them so I don’t know about the order here, maybe I’m like working up in scale, maybe I’m working downscale but the next one on my list is the culture or epidemic of busyness, of over busyness.
Whitney Lowe: Interesting. Tell me about that.
Til Luchau: Well, it’s not just unique to our field but we exist in a cultural context or in a moment in time or something where there’s a total, they’re not total, there’s a lack of time to reflect to learn or stop or pause. It’s all we have time for is to get our stuff done, to get through… I mean, if I’m lucky if I get my email box emptied say, and so it becomes survival and enduring more than enhancement and learning and enjoying.
Til Luchau: That’s the background. I see it in the people I work with. I see it with the people that come to our trainings. I see it in my clientele. The downside, there’s burnout and exhaustion and a kind of parsing things down to the least common denominator like social media interactions as opposed to real person interactions or microlearning as opposed to deep learning, but we end up in our busyness not having time and a quick and easy way to do it is usually the one that wins out. I see that as a major challenge facing us-
Whitney Lowe: Tell me a little bit about this in terms of your day to day experience of how you deal with this because I’m curious about this whole process? I see myself getting sucked into that a lot.
Til Luchau: Oh, yeah.
Whitney Lowe: You and I, we’re both on social media a fair amount and we look around and say there’s all kinds of things that we could get drawn into or wanting to somebody posts a great study. Hey, I want to go look at that or I want to delve into this or I see a fascinating discussion to go on and I want to jump in because that is one of the ways that we continue to grow.
Til Luchau: Has so much, there’s so much available, so much is interesting and my, the nature of kind of my… I don’t know, personality or style is to get involved in a lot of things and enjoy a lot of different stimulus and a lot of ideas. It gets really rich but also gets chaotic. Maybe it’s relating to my last topic which was aging because, or maybe my taste for it is changing as the decades start to click over here.
Til Luchau: Yeah. I think it’s my personal practice, my personal challenge. How do I manage that level of busyness in a way that leaves room for reflecting and pause and rest? I don’t think it’s separate from what we help our clients with because they come to us with the effects of all that stuff and if we-
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think this whole idea of social media interaction processes would be a great topic for us to delve into in greater extent at some point too because I think… I know I see myself getting caught up sometimes in something that might become a very heated discussion about something. It almost feels people are close to the edge of sort of shouting at each other online and sometimes it’s topics that have been talked about over and over again or sometimes it’s a really hot button issue for me that I’m really strong and passionate about. I don’t have time to get sucked into this.
Til Luchau: It’s busyness. That’s a sub for that. I mean, there you talk about two things, not having time, and then the nature of the conversations that come out of that which just… I’m going to hold off because that’s actually my next one, my next challenge. But that busyness, again, the downside is, we parse things up. We do the easiest. We do the smallest. We don’t get to reflect. We get burned out. We get exhausted.
Whitney Lowe: Right. I remember I was talking to a friend of mine once or talking, or this was on a thread, an internet thread about something he said, and I know this because this has happened to me before. He said, “Have you ever gotten halfway through writing a response to a post of somebody on social media just realizing, ‘Oh, you know what? I don’t care. Stop.'”
Whitney Lowe: Because you realize there’s a certain point at which I’m getting really sucked into something again that I just, I got to determine, is this, what’s the value versus the benefit versus the-
Til Luchau: Cost.
Whitney Lowe: … cost of getting really, really drawn into this sometimes? That’s a hard one I think to do for us.
Til Luchau: All right. I had a hard time coming up with opportunities here too. But that’s one of them. It’s an opportunity to get more intentional and more conscious about what we do, where we put energy.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Well, I will say too on the opportunity side of that. Here’s the flip side. There’s an opportunity of the busyness thing. While there are days that I curse the busyness that social media and those types of things bring into our lives, it is also a savior for me because I live in a very rural place and I work at home and I don’t get out very much. That is my connection to the world and with, for a lot of things.
Til Luchau: You’re talking about social media or the internet?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Social media and yeah. That’s general and just getting out and about kind of thing doesn’t happen as much.
Til Luchau: No. I think, I mean, that’s the reason it’s such a problem is because it’s so good and does so many things for us. I don’t think social media is the challenge. I think it’s the culture of busyness. it’s the exhaustion, the comments, the squeezing more in, it’s not stopping and have it so much available. I mean, it’s just the fact that we all carry an iPhone now or whatever we carry, Android, whatever we carry.
Til Luchau: The fact that you’re on, you’re always on. That’s not even the term people use anymore, it’s just assumed.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. It is that drowning in a sea of opportunity kind of thing. So many things available to us that just take up space.
Til Luchau: Did we name the opportunities? Yeah. The richness that comes, the consciousness, what that asks for us?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: You know what? It actually fills our practices and fills more questions. That’s what we’re helping people recover from and deal with so that as we get better about it, that’s where we work from. That’s the embodied piece that we actually offer people.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Right. Well, another one that… Did we-
Til Luchau: Yeah. Let’s go for it. What’s that? What do you got?
Whitney Lowe: Did we sufficiently addressed that? Yeah. I was going to say another one that… This is not one that comes on to my radar screen as much but I heard a lot of… Well, have heard quite a lot of discussion about this in various different circles and it was, it came up on your list in the Facebook group as well. There’s lots of discussion about it here at the convention this past weekend and all these other big events that I’ve gone to recently, and that’s around income issues for massage therapists.
Whitney Lowe: Because it seems like the economy and, again, this is not just massage therapists but it all speak more to them because it does seem to be more of an issue in that particular realm. Let’s broaden that to say soft tissue manual therapists because I think those issues may affect a good number of them. But many of these individuals, the whole work landscape has changed with the emergence of the franchise model for many of these places, and many of the people who are coming out of school are looking for employment opportunities now back compared to, for example, back in the old days when you and I started doing this.
Whitney Lowe: We were always doing independent practice things or finding way to create work for ourselves. We might find a clinic or somebody that we might end up working with or partner with but it was, for the most part, entrepreneurial type of work. Now, that has moved into some of these other environments, a lot of people are feeling as if they’re not making adequate money to compensate for the workloads that they’re experiencing.
Whitney Lowe: On the flip side that I talked to some other clinic owners that are paying really good wages for practitioners in their clinic and they can’t find people to staff their position.
Til Luchau: Yeah. I know both those are true I think average cost of a massage therapist average cost of massage therapy session has probably gone down in the last few years in the US and yet, it’s also hard for the businesses to get enough therapists everywhere I go.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. Right. I don’t know what the answer to that one is. I do think as some of these fields have become more socially acceptable and socially interesting, it has drawn more people from the mainstream into these types of training programs that has also drawn more people in who sort of thought along the traditional models of I go to school, I get out of school, I look for a job, and those places that are providing jobs are looking to make a business, make money.
Whitney Lowe: They’re looking at this really as a business and so what often happens is people come into some of our training programs… Years ago, I worked in massage school and we used to talk about the equation in the admissions process. Oh, they did the equation, which was, “Hey, a massage costs… Let’s say 60…” Well, that time it was a lot less than… Let’s say a massage costs $75 an hour. If I work 40 to 48 hours a week like everybody does then I’m going to be making beaucoup bucks. They don’t recognize and understand that’s not how it works at all.
Til Luchau: Looks pretty easy money and once you get into it and say, “Wow. Okay. This is not only hard to run my own business and keep all that going, but there’s a lot of costs and things like that.” You’re right. Now, that we have so many businesses and that they’re kind of inevitable result of consolidation or upscaling in the field where the bigger players come in and they make it more efficient and they look for economies of scale, which means they pay the people doing it less also means the cost comes down to the consumer. It’s that same dynamic that has so many pluses and minuses for the society at large.
Til Luchau: The globalization thing, the splitting of the upper and lower ends of the wage earners, all those kind of things going on within our sector.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think this also ties into some of those issues that I was mentioning earlier in the whole split personality issue of our profession because there is a big question. Well, if you require more training, for example, for individuals who might work within some type of healthcare model, should or should not those individuals be making more money than individuals who are not having to go through that other more extensive training?
Whitney Lowe: That creates a lot of internal strike within the field about people making different levels of income from the type of thing they do or looking at one particular type of work as being less or not as relevant or whatever. Those kinds of biases tend up to be this or that does create a number of other challenges and problems for us as well.
Til Luchau: Then, here in 2019, who knows the US economy has been doing pretty good but there’s a lot of people nervous about what might come if we got another recession, what would that do to our field? Those kind of things are in the background as well.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. They certainly are. What I think does tend to be interesting and you know what? Throughout the last 10 or so years, we have been seeing very difficult challenging times for training programs. Many of the schools, there’s been quite a number of school closures and schools with dropping enrollments and things like that. It’s an interesting inverse relationship that seems to exist.
Whitney Lowe: Now, I was talking to a colleague of mine that run, that teaches in a community college. She teaches in the Math Department and saying, “Yeah. At the community college, we’ve had a significant drop in enrollment over the last five years as well.” What seems to be the case is the better the economy does, the less people go back to school for additional training. There’s a fair amount of people probably in our field hoping the economy takes a downturn-
Til Luchau: Well, I got to say-
Til Luchau: … in 2008, the last big nationwide dip here, we really took a step up in my training business. So many people started coming, classes got much bigger. They would come and say, “Not only do I want to learn more…” Now, you’re talking about entry-level but this is talking about existing practitioners coming back and saying, “I want to learn more.” But they’re saying, “I got… It’s weird. I got clients coming too.”
Til Luchau: I’ve also seen this to be true globally when I go into places where there is a challenged economy, I’m amazed at how many people are still making it work. How many practitioners are that are making it work when there’s… Even when you think at the surface the economy is difficult, something about it makes… It’s like trimming the branches or something, the tree sprouts more.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think there’s also, that’s a testament to the incredible diversity of our economy and people’s ability to find work outside of the traditional large company model, which was so prevalent during the first half of the 20th Century and large companies in the economy do bad, then everybody does bad. But now, the economy is dominated by small business and entrepreneurs and people doing very different innovative things and they find ways to be nimble and flexible when the times get tough.
Til Luchau: There’s one of the opportunities. Any others you want to highlight about that one?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think it certainly, it poses opportunities for those individuals who can take advantage of some entrepreneurial energy. There’s a lot of… The thing that I find interesting in the midst of a lot of people complaining or saying that there’s problems with the current wages that they have. There’s some people out there doing exceptionally well in our field, which means it can be done, and to me, those are the opportunities that really exist for people. If you want to go out and hustle and do some hustle, there’s a lot of ways that you can find to be very successful, very happy
Til Luchau: All right so let’s continue this conversation next time. A lot to talk about here. But to wrap this one up, thanks to our sponsors. They’re amazing. They make this happen.
Whitney Lowe: You can do just about anything that you want to but you may have to work for it and that’s kind of what it boils down to I think for a lot of individuals.
Til Luchau: That’s right.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah.
Til Luchau: I’m with you there.
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. We probably, maybe we should probably take this whole topic and break it into… Well, come back in big challenges, revisit it or something like that because we can probably go off on… I know you’ve got a long list there and I’ve got a list of other things too. They’ll probably take us quite a long time to go through there. What do you think? We’ve captured a couple of the key things there. Should we tackle those or leave them for another revisit?
Til Luchau: I mean, we could go… Yeah. I got at least two more. Like I said I got a hard time breaking it down. Maybe this is a two-episode topic, huh?
Whitney Lowe: Yeah. I think it may be possibly two-episode or possibly even more later on. Why don’t we… We’ll say we’ll come back and revisit this with some of our other topic ideas. How does that sound?
Til Luchau: All right. Let’s continue this conversation next time, a lot to talk about here. But to wrap this one up, thanks to our sponsors. They’re amazing. They make this happen.
Whitney Lowe: You can also stop by our site for show notes, any additional information we might have available for you on earning CE credits from the podcast and other opportunities that we’ll have there for you and that site is www.thinkingpractitioner.com. Where can people find you?
Til Luchau: My site advanced-trainings.com. How about yours, Whitney?
Whitney Lowe: You can also find me over at the academyofclinicalmassage.com and also you’ve got a Facebook group where people can track you down, is that correct?
Til Luchau: Yeah. Advanced myofascial techniques discussion group, if you’ve taken one of our trainings, you read any of my books, then you jump in there, it’s a private forum where we focus on those topics or my personal site, just my name, Til Luchau, has a lot of discussion going on it too.
Whitney Lowe: Great. I’ve also got a Facebook group with at the Academy of Clinical Massage on Facebook as well so you can find us over there. If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to email those to us at [email protected]
Til Luchau: Or look for us on social media and rate us on iTunes or wherever else you listen and be sure to tell friends. That’s how the word gets out.
Whitney Lowe: That’s great. We will see you next time. We’ll pick this up and dive into some other interesting topics.
Til Luchau: Thanks, Whitney.
Whitney Lowe: All right. Sounds good. Take care, Til.