Erika Larson is a massage therapist based in Atlanta who is participating in a collaborative research project with Emory University and the Atlanta School of Massage. She will be presenting at the AMTA 2019 National Convention. Read more about her work and what you can expect to learn at her convention session.
What drew you to the massage therapy profession? How long have you been practicing?
I chose to attend massage school because I wanted to compliment the theoretical understanding I had of the human body in both a state of health and a state of disease by gaining a practical perspective.
What is your current work setting like?
As the research position I have is dependent on grant funding and part-time, I have multiple jobs. When our team has active studies, I provide the therapeutic massage and bodywork intervention at an outpatient healthcare facility. Outside of research, I teach and help lead events as part of Integral Transformative Bodywork. I create art exploring texture and textiles. Finally, I am employed in a non-massage-related capacity at a healthcare facility.
What do you enjoy most about your current position? What are the challenges?
Regarding the research position, I enjoy the collaborative aspect of the partnership most. Working with the scientists on the team, we are able to produce research that is relevant to both allopathic medicine and complementary and integrative medicine.
As with any team endeavor, there are challenges with communication and the need to establish and continually revisit the common language created. Improving the research literacy of the research massage therapists and increasing the research capacity of the massage school in the partnership may translate to the research massage therapists being able to have an expanded role in study design and execution. Given the nature of research (grant-funded and dependent on recruitment of participants), the aspects of the work I receive compensation for are not always accessible.
Related: CE courses on research literacy for massage therapists
How has AMTA impacted your career?
Through AMTA’s support of the Massage Therapy Foundation, I have had numerous opportunities to participate in research. AMTA has also provided a venue for presentation of research.
Why should massage therapists attend your session at the AMTA 2019 National Convention?
To learn about one method for conducting research with a therapeutic massage and bodywork intervention and in so doing, examine the effects the treatment intervention had on the symptoms the participants had.
What are some takeaways from your sessions that attendees won’t read about in the session description?
Within the presentations, the context in which the research took place will be highlighted. Examining the collaborative partnership established may provide useful tips for massage therapists looking to engage with other healthcare practitioners.
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