Spotlight: Elizabeth T Phreed, BCTMB, LMT

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Please provide your full name, current location, and current job title.

My name is Elizabeth T Phreed – In my practice, I go by Betsy Thompson which is my nickname and maiden name. I currently reside in Boston, MA and own and am the sole massage therapist at Thompson Massage Therapy for Women.

Provide one fun fact about you.

I was an aerobics instructor when I was going to massage school in the late 1980s early 90’s.  I met my husband of 28 years at the gym I was teaching at.  He was taking my class!

What are your hobbies?

Yoga, writing, playing with my cats

How did you discover the massage therapy profession?  What motivated you to pursue massage therapy as a career?

In my first career I was a teacher of special needs children, which I did for about 10 years off and on.  I was really burnt out from the administration, quit, and pursued lots of different jobs. I was very physically active, loved dance and started teaching aerobics which I really enjoyed, but it wasn’t enough, and not a sustainable career in the long run.  I enjoyed working with people and helping them feel better and was fascinated how the body works.

When I was teaching aerobics, I pulled a muscle in my back, and a friend suggested I go to a chiropractor.  Before the chiro saw me, a massage therapist came in to loosen up my muscles.  I had never had a massage before.  As soon as I got it (and it was only 10 minutes) I felt so much better, the light went on and I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.

How did you develop your passion?

I have been living in Boston MA for over 32 years.  There were 2 massage schools in Cambridge MA in the late 80’s, early 90s, The Massage Institute of New England and The Muscular Therapy Institute.  They were very competitive at the time. MTI was a 2-year program and MINE a one year. I attended both schools and graduated from MINE.  I chose MTI to start with because I had no idea how to do massage and had only experienced a few brief massages.  The technique taught there was very specific.  It was exactly what I needed.  I loved every minute of it, but by the end of the first year I was ready to try out some other techniques.

I was very interested in sports massage at the time, spinning off from my aerobics career, and MTI did not offer that. As an elective they had one of the teachers from MINE come to MTI to teach a sports massage class, and I enjoyed it so much I decided to transfer over to MINE.

I really enjoyed my classes at MINE and was able to use the base technique I learned at MTI to create my own style. I was happy I had gone to both schools.  One to get a base technique and the other to expand upon it.
I was invited to teach at MINE right after I graduated.  I co-taught a massage technique class with one of the owners, and then was given the class as my own.  I taught there for 4 years.  That was a great experience to further develop my knowledge and skills.

At the same time my husband and I were building our professional massage therapy business in Boston.  In the 80’s and early 90’s massage therapy was not mainstream, and you really could practice without being licensed, but we were determined to make my practice professional and safe.  My husband came up with the very simple name, Massage Therapy for Women and he designed the business around me.  He was an ex- businessman and he was very excited about doing this with me.  He made flyers and posters and we would spend endless days off posting them and putting flyers on cars and in doorways.  He really engineered the business, and I loved working with the people and developing my massage therapy skills as time passed.

How has your massage career evolved?

I started out as a sole practitioner developing my own style, offering affordable massage therapy to women and their families, while my husband developed discount coupon booklets, scheduling and financial tracking software needed to keep the business running smoothly and professionally.

Several years later, we decided to expand, moved to a multi office space, networked our computer systems, before that was mainstream, hired a reception person and multiple massage therapists.  We did a massive marketing program which in those days, internet was not available. We did the old foot to the pavement postering and flyering method.  Offering a very affordable new client rate.  We were very busy and filled and had developed a good reputation for our services.  After a few years we decided to scale back.  I was interested in developing my own practice, instead of the management of the business and other massage therapists.

My husband moved me to a single office in a busy office building in the Back Bay of Boston where I have been thriving ever since.  The internet is now the marketing tool, and my husband died recently, so now I am on my own.  In the last few years, I have grown a large prenatal massage therapy practice along with continuing my first love, which is combining trigger point therapy with an overall therapeutic massage and relaxation thrown in.  I have a very large client base composed of all ages of women, a large number who have come for regular massage for over 25 years.

What excites me most in my current role is the satisfaction and fulfillment of having a career in massage that has lasted so many years and yet every time I have a client it feels like I have just begun.  There is always a new challenge to unwind and loosen, a new tension to work through or figure out.  Every client holds their own mystery of why and /or how muscles are tight or relaxed.

When did you first become NCBTMB Certified?

1992

Why did you elect to become NCBTMB Certified?

I was forward thinking, and it seemed to me that eventually it would be important to be Nationally certified in case that became a requirement for Massage Therapists.  I had just graduated from massage school in 1991, and the information we learned in school was still fresh in my mind.  This seemed like a perfect time to take the test.  It was only the 2nd test period to be offered in Massachusetts.

Why have you maintained your NCBTMB Certification all these years?

As I predicted it has been a very important certification to maintain when applying for state licensing.  Clients and potential clients like to know that I am Nationally certified.  I like that it is heavily wrapped into AMTA CE requirements.  I know the courses will be good if they are approved by NCBTMB.

How has NCBTMB elevated your career?  What doors did it open for you?

As I mentioned in the previous response, it is important to massage therapy licensing boards to have the National Certification, now Board Certification, and when applying to other states for massage licensing it makes the application process much smoother.

What would you say to a fellow massage therapist contemplating Board Certification?

I would say that it a very important certification to have, for now, and for the future.  I believe at some point we will all be required to be Board Certified, and this board was the originator of that idea.  It is solid, well run and is an important certification to have to improve the professionalism of massage therapy and bodywork.

How has your practice and/or employment been affected by COVID-19?

Sadly, I have had to close my business during this pandemic and am very much looking forward to getting back to my practice when we can.

If you are not working or unable to work during the pandemic, what are you doing during this time to prepare for future work?

Staying in touch with clients and keeping them updated on the status of my business is a big part of my current strategy.  I am also putting together a weekly letter/newsletter/ with relaxation tips and self-massage ideas as well as working on a Zoom project to include self-massage and meditation tips. In addition, I am taking some new CE classes.

What would you suggest a fellow massage therapist do during this time to prepare for future success?

It is a perfect time to study for the Board Certification and take those continuing education courses that you are interested in, especially the ones that have piqued your curiosity.  Stay in touch with your clients and let them know you are still there for them and looking forward to seeing them when this crisis lifts.

To apply for Board Certification, click here.

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