"Massage therapy appealed to my interest in health and wellness and offered me a way to share this passion with others," says AMTA member and volunteer Darlene Nadeau.
Read about Darlene's diverse career below, including how she recently helped launch a hospital-based massage program.
What first attracted you to the massage therapy profession?
Pain was the primary motivator. First, I experienced chronic unresolved pain in my neck and shoulder after a car accident. Secondly, I was burned-out, stressed and unfulfilled with the administrative work I was doing at the time.
After being unsuccessful with traditional medicine, including medication and a variety of physical therapies, I sought the help of a massage therapist. The massage therapist that treated me was sensitive, caring and effective in reducing my level of physical discomfort. Massage therapy raised my awareness of the stresses I was carrying. This inspired me to design an overall healthier lifestyle, including seeking a more satisfying career
Prior to the automobile accident, I did not realize that some of my life choices were creating enormous stress and having adverse effects on my health. Massage therapy appealed to my interest in health and wellness and offered me a way to share this passion with others!
What contributed to your choice to become a massage therapist?
I am enthusiastic about continuing to learn about health and wellness. I enjoy work that engages critical thinking skills and allows me to be "present." Massage therapy enables me to do work that is meaningful and improves the quality of life for others.
What specific types of education have helped you succeed and progress in your current role?
I started Reiki training prior to entering massage education. I find Reiki helpful in increasing my awareness of clients’ subtle energies and emotional factors. My training and experience as a yoga teacher helps my physical alignment and spiritual harmony. And, yoga poses are great for on-going “self care."
I have also completed a master’s degree in business and another in counseling. Through the business education, I gained valuable insight into winning organization models. Through my counseling studies, I expanded my understanding of the spiritual dimensions of health and wellness.
Volunteering has presented another means of improving valuable abilities such as empathetic listening, compassionate communication, and other interpersonal skills that are beneficial in massage therapy. Within our AMTA-NH chapter, I have volunteered in the House of Delegates, as MERT member, on workgroups and committees. I also served in leadership roles as 3rd, 2nd, and now 1st vice president. In addition, the continuing education courses keep me motivated about massage and inspire me to explore the many possibilities for optimizing wellness.
I have found that massage offers many options for flexibility and diversity in work setting. I’ve enjoyed providing massage therapy in a variety of locations. I started with a home office and then added more venues, including a shared office space within a medical-professional building, chair massage in corporate offices, a spa setting and home visits for the medically impaired.
When I moved to a more rural community. I felt challenged to start a massage business once again. So, in addition to my home office, I recently participated in the launch of a hospital-based massage program for outpatients within the rehabilitation and fitness center. We are moving forward in the early stages of educating our fitness members, hospital staff, and other medical providers about the benefits of massage. It is indeed an exciting time to be a massage therapist, as I foresee more integrated care in our near future!
How has your involvement with AMTA impacted your career?
I joined AMTA-NH while still a student in massage school. I found it inspiring to meet experienced and successful massage therapists. Through chapter meetings, educational workshops and volunteer events, I have come to know and appreciate an amazing and diverse group of massage therapists. I also enjoy the wider network of professionals that I engage with through active volunteering with AMTA-NH such as our state legislators, NH family physicians, athletes and more.
I have greatly benefited from participating in the New England Regional Conferences, as well as our AMTA National Conventions. Being a self confessed “junkie” for education, I am grateful for the high-quality and low-cost continuing education events that our state and national organizations provide. These courses motivate me to deepen my knowledge as well as try new modalities and a variety of techniques.
What advice would you offer to other massage therapists currently looking to establish themselves within the profession?
Be patient and persistent in building your business. Be flexible and resourceful. Be active in your professional organization. Volunteer in your community. Invest in your own health and education.