How did you discover the massage therapy profession?
I was a travel agent for years, working as a group and meeting planner. I would spend hours coordinating an event. If anyone knows the role of a travel planner for conferences, a 4-day event is a marathon. On one such 4-day event, I was the meeting planner for an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) conference. I wore running shoes with my business suit to accommodate the hundreds of attendees from around the world, some very high-profile VIP’s, 6 break out meeting rooms a day, each with different AV needs, food service and set up for lunch and dinner meetings and a huge final night banquet with liquor and entertainment. I thought I would collapse before the conference was over. The hotel had a spa and I booked my first massage. That was it—massage became part of my life; however, this wouldn’t be the catalyst that drove me into the profession.
How did you develop your passion into a career?
What developed my passion and drove me into the profession was the benefits of bodywork for my daughter, Heather, who achieved functioning recovery of autism—40 seizures a day and sensory processing disorder, which made her shutdown for up to 5 days, unable to walk or talk. First, I was surprised at how many Sensory Integration Therapy techniques appeared like bodywork I had received from a massage therapist.
One day, I was crying my heart out to the Occupational Therapist facilitating sensory integration therapy and telling her how the developmental pediatrician was recommending institutionalization to give Heather more medications. The neurologist was recommending exploratory brain surgery for her seizures. Heather had been using medications for years, and none helped nor were they helping now for her seizures, anxiety, or maladaptive behaviors. The Occupational Therapist told me she was trained in Upledger CranioSacral Therapy and it could reduce the seizures, anxiety, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and improve her sensory system.
Heather’s improvement was remarkable. With Upledger- CranioSacral Therapy, more Sensory Integration Therapy and Biomedical Therapies to address her immune system Heather achieved recovery. To this day bodywork, Upledger-CranioSacral Therapy, lymphatic drainage, and traditional massage are part of what’s called her Sensory Lifestyle to maintain recovery.
Knowing Heather would need these therapies the rest of her life, I went to massage school. Then, I completed training in Upledger – CranioSacral Therapy to obtain the education and licensing needed. Now with 14 years’ experience specializing in individuals on the autism spectrum, I have seen wonderful results in my office.
My experience has shown me the importance of structure and function are never more evident than in these individuals. I feel blessed every day to make a difference in their lives.
How has your career evolved?
These days, I’m very busy writing articles on Bodywork and Autism, writing case studies on Upledger CranioSacral Therapy and the benefits for autism, finishing a home study course, and establishing a foundation that provides direct Upledger craniosacral therapy services to individuals on the spectrum. It should be up and running by March of 2018: www.Upledger.org/Autism.
What does Board Certification mean to you?
I feel being Board Certified shows a commitment to the profession. A commitment to education is necessary to stay current and stimulate growth personally and professionally.
What does becoming an Approved Provider mean to you?
When I became an Approved Provider, I realized I was on the launching pad into my future. It has been my goal—my life’s work—to promote the benefits of Bodywork and Autism, and to let people know Autism recovery is possible. Bodyworks can play a crucial role in that recovery.
What does the future hold for you?
My future goal is to provide an Autism Specialty Certification and a more advanced curriculum in working with individuals on the spectrum.
How do you hope to see the massage therapy and bodywork profession evolve?
I hope to see our profession evolve to the point that western medicine embraces the profession, because they recognize the importance of touch and the benefits it can offer.
Tami is 2018 World Massage Hall of fame inductee.