AMTA member Collette Wilson is a massage therapist as well as a runner, and now she's representing AMTA and the Massage Therapy Foundation in the 2017 Boston Marathon. Find out how and why she go involved with massage therapy, and how has AMTA impacted her career.
Related: Interview with Collette Wilson - Part 2
Why massage therapy?
In 2004, I had been working in the hospitality industry for approximately 18 years. I had just given birth to my second son and found that juggling motherhood and working second shift was catching up with me. My sleep was compromised, and I was suffering from bouts of depression and severe anxiety. Something had to change. I had some friends who were massage therapists and often heard them speak of the benefits of massage being more than a luxury. It was during this time that I became a consumer of massage. Massage helped me reduce my stress and anxiety levels; I was finally sleeping more than three hours a night. Massage helped relieve my tension headaches, and I was becoming a nicer person to be around.
I also realized during this time that perhaps it was time for a career change. While I loved working in customer service, working in hospitality was a "job" - I wanted a vocation. It didn't take me long after receiving regular massage (and seeing how much my friends loved being massage therapists) that I entered the massage program as The Louisville School of Massage. The motto of the school is "Touching People...Changing Lives".
That was what I wanted to do...help better people's lives through the gift of human touch. I still carry that motto into my practice every day. I am so happy and blessed to be "touching people...changing lives." I have found my vocation, and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
Where is your current work setting?
I currently own and operate a private practice of five years in the small community of Pewee Valley, which is just outside of Louisville, KY.
Do you have a specialization?
I specialize in deep tissue, rehabilitative and injury work.
What do you enjoy most? What are some of the challenges?
What I enjoy most is watching people leave my office smiling because they find relief as a result of therapeutic massage. I love to see people taking control of their health by taking that same first step that I did years ago. I have developed a strong following of clients that I need to commend for taking control of their health. I am proud of the trust I have earned with my clients and am honored to be a part of their health care team.
Some of my biggest challenges involve finding balance between my personal and professional life. I am continuously juggling my schedule so that I can be present when my clients and my family need me. I can’t forget about my volunteer life as well...this is what feeds my soul.
Another challenge is my inability to let go of the idea that I cannot help everyone for one reason or another. While I am still on the fence (as a private practitioner) about third party insurance reimbursement when it pertains to massage, the fact that massage is not recognized as health care by most insurance companies prohibits those who really need this service from receiving the benefits of massage. I often try to work with certain clients who are willing to be proactive with their healthcare on a sliding scale. Unfortunately, there are those pesky bills that scream at me every month. Believe me when I say that I wish I could do what I love (massage therapy) for free.
How has AMTA impacted your career?
I was brought into AMTA as a student. I was given a choice between AMTA and another professional organization. As a new, naive student, I chose AMTA. They had a better magazine. I have to be honest that I really didn't know what I was looking for in a professional organization at the time, I only knew that my school required liability insurance, and AMTA was who most of my instructors were with. I am so glad that I put my faith in those people.
Shortly after graduation, one of my instructors and now colleague brought me to my first AMTA-KY Chapter conference. That weekend, I observed the passion that so many therapists shared for the work that we do. I also could not help but notice the heart and soul that the chapter volunteers put into creating such an amazing experience for their fellow members.
I remember going home after that weekend and writing the chapter board. I don't remember all that I said, but I do remember thinking and saying, "I want to be just like you when I grow up.” It did not take very long after hitting the "send" button for the chapter president to call me. We spoke at length about where we might find a place for me as a volunteer. I remember telling her, "I cannot do all that you do!" Her response: "Collette, I can’t do all that I do - that is why we need you.” Hook. Line. Sinker. We were looking at the new benevolence chair. It did not take long after before I joined chapter leadership, eventually serving as chapter president as well as serving on commitees at a national level.
Related: Connect With Your AMTA Chapter
The opportunities that being involved as an AMTA volunteer provided me are immeasurable. My volunteerism with AMTA has helped strengthen my self-esteem - I was that girl in the back of a meeting, praying nobody asked me to speak, and now you can’t shut me up. I am a stronger, more confident individual, leader, and professional because of my experience with AMTA. I could honestly say that without my experiences with AMTA (as well as the support from fellow AMTA "family"), I would not be the successful therapist and business owner that I am so far. I truly feel that I am a better individual overall because of the relationships that I have developed over the years with fellow AMTA members.
Related: Continue Reading: Interview with Collette Wilson - Part 2
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