“In time, your passion for massage may begin to dwindle. AMTA has so many events that you can participate in to keep your passion alive. Together, our voices have a powerful impac,” says AMTA Washington Chapter member and volunteer Debbie Clemans.
What first attracted you to the massage therapy profession?
After a rewarding 27-year career as a high school teacher, I found myself experiencing severe burn out. At the same time, my husband suddenly developed arthritis that left him unable to walk without pain. As luck would have it, we were in the middle of an ambitious home improvement project: attaching a new garage to our house. Hours of leveling concrete left me with a great deal of pain in my neck. I visited a chiropractor who advised me to try massage. After one visit to his massage therapist, I was amazed by the work she did.
In one session, I mentioned I was struggling with my own career. She suggested I try massage therapy. I had strong hands and was easy to talk to, she told me. At the end of the school year, I enrolled in a massage therapy program and have never looked back.
What career path has led you to your current position?
Through networking, I was introduced to an esthetician and a nail technician who had decided to add massage therapy to their menu of services. I interviewed and was asked to become a member of The Upper Room Day Spa. Because of the economy, we were eventually forced to close, but I made sure to keep in touch with the people I had worked with. In December of 2009, I was asked to join a new spa along with a former co-worker. The business expertise and encouragement I have received from the spa’s owner have been an important part of building my own practice.
How has your involvement with AMTA impacted your career?
AMTA has provided me with opportunities for involvement that I wouldn’t have known existed otherwise. Each year, I volunteer for Massage Awareness Day in Olympia. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day event experience renewed my passion for massage. I am now the chairperson for Snohomish County Massage Practitioners Network. I also appreciate the work that AMTA does to protect my ability to practice in Washington.
Why do you think it is important for massage therapists to actively participate in volunteer opportunities like the Susan G Komen events?
Too many people still have the wrong idea when it comes to massage. Any opportunity to present the correct image of massage to a new group of people is important. It helps to plant the seeds about all of the positive effects regular massage can have on one’s body. Volunteering at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day events is my way of saying thank you to those who have given so much to help find the cure for breast cancer.
What advice would you offer prospective massage therapists?
Don't go it alone! Get involved with a program that will support your learning and growth. While there may be other organizations, AMTA is a nonprofit organization that has name recognition throughout America. In time, your passion for massage may begin to dwindle, but AMTA has so many events that you can participate in to keep your passion alive. Together, our voices have a powerful impact!