Ryan Witholt, LMT, BCTMB
Long before deciding to become a massage therapist, I was interested in healthcare. Specifically, I wanted to be a physician so I could help people heal. In my final year as an undergraduate, I learned that my vision of medicine and helping people heal was not in alignment with the mainstream, pharmacology-based treatment model. I finished my degree in biological psychology, but had no intention of continuing down the path of medical school. After six years of soul searching and working as a professional yacht crew, the need to return to my original passion to help others surfaced—and massage therapy seemed like an excellent way to start down that path.
I discovered massage therapy while working as a deckhand on a private yacht in France. Our crew had been on charter all summer, working long hours without any time off when, at last, we had a break. Someone suggested we get massages, and after getting the massage I felt restored and relaxed. From that day onwards, I began to truly value massage therapy.
One of my first assignments in massage school was to define my career visions—my 1/5/10 year goals and consider what career path would be most fulfilling. It took me several years of working in various settings as a therapist to get where I am today. During that time, though, I dabbled in chair massage, outcall, and spa settings. I noticed that I felt the most fulfilled when sharing my knowledge with others and while working with clients who had a specific need and were seeking improved wellness.
To improve my effectiveness in addressing injuries, I decided that I would take continuing education that improved my palpation and assessment skills. I also volunteered my time to working with people who were battling cancer or the side effects of its treatment. I spent several years teaching at the school I attended and, little by little, I began to move closer to my vision. Along the way, some of my most important business skills have come from networking groups, business mentors, and other therapists. In a nutshell, I tested the waters and gauged my sense of satisfaction with the work I was doing; then, I moved in the direction of what was most fulfilling.
Nowadays, I have a private practice working with clients who seek improved wellness through massage therapy, have musculoskeletal injuries, or want to improve their postural alignment. I work closely with a Gonstead Chiropractor whose values align with my own and sees the value massage therapy has for her patients. I’m in the process of expanding my practice to include likeminded therapists who want to feel valued for the work they do and want to grow into managing their own practice.
My credentials matter—especially my Board Certification. Board Certification represents a prestigious title that I can share with my stakeholders to demonstrate that I have achieved the highest level of certification available in our profession. It represents a standard that is above average, that only the most dedicated members of our community will meet. It means that we Certificants are distinguished within our industry.
For the future, my goals include growing my business to sustain multiple locations providing therapeutic massage in the Greater Las Vegas area through integration with physical therapists, chiropractors, and orthopedic doctors. Thinking back to that first assignment in massage school… In five years, we will be the number one choice for therapeutic massage services in Las Vegas, and will employ the best and brightest massage therapists in our region. In ten years, we will expand outside of Nevada and bring our model of service to new markets. By then, I will be engaged in the executive operations of the business while our team of leaders continues to empower the health and wellness of the communities we touch.
In terms of the massage therapy and bodywork profession, I would first like to see a national standard established for education and licensing. Second, I would like to see the option for an advanced certification specific to working with other healthcare professionals and their patients. I believe that our ability to enhance people’s health and wellness is limited by our credentials to do so, thus and thirdly, I would love to see a manual of best practices that is based on scientific research and a credentialing/education system that prepares therapists to implement those practices.