Transitioning at your massage job

Transitions are often a part of work in the massage industry. Co-workers come and go as therapists transition through places of employment.  The one constant in this profession is that things will change.  For some this change comes comes easily, yet for others, this change can be upsetting, and offer a feeling of mourning.

We have been reviewing Tuckman’s 4 Phases of Group Dynamics. In more than 10 years after his introduction to this work, he came up with the 5th and final phase… The ending phase:

 Adjourning and Transforming

In 1977, Tuckman added a fifth stage to the original 4: adjourning and transforming, which involves completing the task and breaking up the group.  In this stage we can begin to witness anything from fear of the unknown, to excitement of embracing a new career, to feelings of abandonment to elation of moving on.  As instructors, it is wise for us to be aware of, and acknowledge our own relationship to this change.

This entails the termination of the relationships as we know them, and a sense of mourning may arise.

Group Dynamics at your Massage job – (3)


When the class manages to put their differences aside, and move forward with their learning, regardless of everyone being seen as “perfect”, this is called the norming stage.  Often there is also a norming stage that settles in somewhere between the Forming and Storming phases.  At this point, the class has one goal and come to a mutual plan to learn from the instruction, and trust in the process. Sometimes a few students may have to give up their own ideas and agree with others in order to make the class function. In this stage, all classmates take the responsibility and have the ambition to work for the success of the school’s and class’s goals of learning.


Sometimes it feels like it may be impossible, yet it usually happens that classes reach the performing stage. These high-performing classes are able to function as a unit as they find ways to dive deeper into their learning and experience the massage school as it is intended.  By this time, they are motivated and knowledgeable. The students are now competent, autonomous and able to learn and grow without intervention. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the peaceful nature we are trying to develop.

During this phase instructors are encouraged to go deeper with the material, and invite inquiry in closing circles. Even the most high-performing classes will revert to earlier stages in certain circumstances. Many classes may even go through these cycles several times as they react to changing circumstances.

Group Dynamics at your massage job – continued


After the classroom settles into doing and learning what is at hand, they will next enter the storming stage in which different ideas and personalities compete for consideration, and even power. The classroom begins to openly address issues such as interpersonal feelings within the group, resistance to learning, emotions arising from the bodywork, and performance anxiety. This is when classmates begin to open up to each other and confront each other’s ideas and perspectives. In some cases storming can be resolved quickly. In others, the class never leaves this stage. The emotional maturity of the class or the depths of the wounds they are addressing, usually determines whether the class will ever move out of this stage. Often some members will focus on minutiae and detail about the class temperature or the clinic management to evade real issues.

The storming stage is necessary to the growth of the individuals and the group as a whole. It can be contentious, unpleasant and even painful to members of the class or even staff at the school.  Tolerance of each student and their differences should be emphasized. Without tolerance and patience the class can get even more contentious, and the learning will not be achieved. This phase can become destructive to the class and will lower motivation if allowed to get out of control. Unfortunately, some classes will never develop past this stage.

It is essential that instructors remain accessible, and remain directive in their guidance of navigating these issues within the classroom, as we encourage professional behavior. Often the class will resolve their differences and members will be able to participate with one another more comfortably. The ideal is that they will not feel that they are being judged, nor shamed and will therefore share their opinions and views without having to be “right”.

Group Dynamics at Massage School or at Work!

In 1960’s Bruce Tuckman was one of the first psychologists to look into the emotional dynamics of groups and group development.   In a 1965 article entitled “Developmental Sequences in Small Groups”, he initially announced the four phases a group journeys through as the Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of group development.  He maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the group/class/team to grow, to develop, to face the challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has become the basis for subsequent models, and out of it grew the industry of change agents and business coaches.


In the first stages of team building, the forming of the team takes place. The individual’s behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict. Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on being busy with routines, such as team organization, who does what, when to meet, etc. But individuals are also gathering information and impressions – about each other, and about the scope of the task and how to approach it. This is a comfortable stage to be in, but the avoidance of conflict and threat means that not much actually gets done, as everyone is trying to understand the situation.

Team/class members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves. Mature classmates begin to model appropriate behavior even at this early phase. Sharing the knowledge of the concept of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing can be extremely helpful to the class.

Instructors/Facilitators of the class tend to need to be directive during this phase.

The forming stage of any classroom is particularly important because it is at this time that the members of a team get to know one another, exchange personal information, and potentially make friends. This is also a good opportunity to see how each member of the class works and behaves as an individual and how they respond to learning and group.

Diabetes & Obesity

Massage School – a learning environment to help fight diabetes & obesity?

Steven R. Smith, M.D.: Sanford Burnham Medical research.

Obesity and diabetes are epidemic in Western societies and account for at least 1/10th of health care expenditures nationwide. The reasons for this are complex; however, it is clear that there is wide variation in individual susceptibility to our obesogenic environment. Our fundamental hypothesis is that the regulation of metabolism in peripheral tissues, specifically skeletal muscle, determines susceptibility to our rich environment and ultimately the common chronic diseases diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the clinic, we aim to understand the control of fatty acid metabolism but also test novel therapeutic interventions to reduce body weight and treat diabetes. Our more ‘basic’ research focuses on the control of substrate switching between fat and carbohydrate with a particular emphasis on the regulation of fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle and the adipose tissue dysfunction that occurs in obesity.

Insulin resistance in skeletal muscle is a key feature of the pre-diabetic state and a precursor to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Our laboratory developed several techniques to study substrate switching in primary human muscle cells and we use these techniques to better understand how insulin resistance develops. We also use these tools to develop and test new strategies to activate fat oxidation as a means to improve insulin action and reduce body weight. Myoblasts grown in culture retain the metabolic characteristics of the donor. This provides us with a tool to explore the origins of the reduced capacity for fat oxidation; a key feature of patients with type 2 diabetes and their offspring. Current efforts are directed towards identifying epigenetic ‘marks’ that may account for these intrinsic differences in the capacity for fat oxidation. Using these same tools, new data from the lab suggests that insulin resistance is due in part to dysregulation of the breakdown of lipid within the muscle; we coined the term intramyocellular lipotoxicity to describe the insulin resistance that occurs due to an imbalance in these lipases. These data suggest that intramyocellular DAGs lead to insulin resistance in humans, and the dysregulation of the key lipolytic enzymes ATGL and HSL lie upstream of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Lastly, we are aggressively pursuing the regulation of the NAD+ producing enzyme NAMPT in skeletal muscle which lies upstream of the SIRTs as a potential therapeutic pathway in diabetes.

From the Journal of Clinical Investigation:

Rodent models of obesity induced by consuming high-fat diet (HFD) are characterized by inflammation both in peripheral tissues and in hypothalamic areas critical for energy homeostasis. Here we report that unlike inflammation in peripheral tissues, which develops as a consequence of obesity, hypothalamic inflammatory signaling was evident in both rats and mice within 1 to 3 days of HFD onset, prior to substantial weight gain. Furthermore, both reactive gliosis and markers suggestive of neuron injury were evident in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus of rats and mice within the first week of HFD feeding. Although these responses temporarily subsided, suggesting that neuroprotective mechanisms may initially limit the damage, with continued HFD feeding, inflammation and gliosis returned permanently to the mediobasal hypothalamus. Consistent with these data in rodents, we found evidence of increased gliosis in the mediobasal hypothalamus of obese humans, as assessed by MRI. These findings collectively suggest that, in both humans and rodent models, obesity is associated with neuronal injury in a brain area crucial for body weight control.

For more, visit the Diabetes & Obesity Center of Excellence

Visit ASIS Massage Education for Workshops on Alternative Health

The Science of Healthy Living Continues to Expand!

High-Fat Foods Cause Brain Scarring

Keeping pounds off long-term is difficult for even the most successful dieter, and scientists may now be on the path to determining why.

A study published recently in The Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that high-fat foods cause damage to the hypothalamus – an area in the brain responsible for hunger, thirst and the body’s natural rhythms and cycles – in rodents.

“These are really important papers that begin to push the idea out that we’re not in control as much as we think we are,” says Dr. Steven R. Smith, co-director for the Sanford-Burnham Diabetes and Obesity Research Center, who wasn’t involved with the study.

However, Smith says researchers must first determine if the scarring happening in the rodent models will translate to the human condition. Not everything that scientists observe in rodents also applies to humans, of course, but it is a starting point.

“This is the tip of the spear. We’ve been talking a lot about diet and willpower and exercise and this sort of thing.  This is radically different [thinking] – that diets can actually re-program the structure of the brain.”

The human body is designed to regulate how much fuel is stored as fat through a process called energy homeostasis, the study’s lead author Dr. Michael Schwartz says. For a normal-weight person, that’s good.  But once a person becomes obese, his or her body seems to want to stay at that new weight permanently.

“That’s the biggest problem with obesity treatment,” says Schwartz, director of the Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence at the University of Washington. “Obese people can lose weight, but they have trouble keeping it off.”

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ASIS – Offering a Wide Variety of Alternative Living Seminars

and Massage Therapy Workshops

Happy Graduation Flagstaff Fall 2011

ASIS is proud to announce the completion of another successful program!

Good luck to you all!

ASIS in Flagstaff will begin another training on February 16.

Come join us as we explore a multi-faceted perspective of health and education.

The aspiration that guides ASIS is to create a safe, supportive, and evocative learning environment, while celebrating the diversity, uniqueness, and beauty of each individual being’s body, mind, and soul.

Click here for more information on ASIS in Flagstaff:

A tribute to Janet Travell and what she added to Massage Therapy

There are always great influences in every profession, and massage therapy has so many to be thankful for.

From Ida Rolf to Moshe Feldenkrais, Fritz Perls to Ron Kurts, our profession has expanded, diversified, and gotten way more detailed at the same time. Luckily, our list is long, and continues to grow.

A resent website has created to to both memorialize  and collate the work of one such influential person, Janet Travell.


The site

is new and growing, and is full of some great articles. 


For workshops on Deep Tissue Therapy, NMT, and Connective Tissue, visit ASIS


Happy New Year – from Rumi and ASIS

For our drunkenness
And being a lover
For our youthfulness
And our companionship
The New Year
The early Spring
And the Aries
Are sending us an invitation!

The eyes of the world
Have never seen
A Spring like this:
The Alchemy is growing
On the mountain base and from the Earth.

Peeking behind a tree
A happy Nymph
Is surreptitiously glancing around!

The Blossom is drinking
The wine of the Soul
Cup after cup!

Look at the Blossom
It’s sending you an invitation
If you didn’t see its wine drinking
Watch its full blossoming!

Be happy O Blossom!
Welcome O Spring wind!

The Lily is telling its Bud:
Wake up! Why are you still asleep?!
There is the candle
And the handsome youth
There is the wine
And the seductive lover!
The Sweet Basil and
The Tulips are also raising glasses!

Who’s gift is all of this
If not bestowed by the Almighty God?

The Hyacinth flower
Discretely but sweetly whispered
To the ear of a hidden flower:

May the protective Shadow of God
Never be separated from us!

New Year Invitation
By Rumi
Persian/Farsi to English translation by Sologak

مستی و عاشقی وجوانی و یار ما
نوروز و نوبهار و حمل می زند صلا
هرگز ندیده چشم جهان این چنین بهار
می روید از زمین و ز کهسار کیمیا
پهلوی هر درخت یکی حور نیکبخت
دزدیده می نماید اگر محرمی لقا
اشکوفه می خورد زمی روح طاس طاس
بنگر سوی او که صلا می زند ترا
کی خوردنش ندیدی اشکوفه اش ببین
شاد باش ای شکوفه و ای باده مرحبا
سوسن به غنچه گوید: برجه چه خفته ای
شمعست و شاهدست و شرابست و فتنها
ریحان و لاله ها بگرفته پیاله ها
از کیست این عطا ز کی باشد جز از خدا
سنبل به گوش گل پنهان شکر کرد و گفت
هرگز مباد سایه یزدان ز ما جدا

AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet – Massage Therapy & Healthcare

Massage And Healthcare

Healthcare providers are increasingly promoting the benefits of massage to their patients.

  • In July 2009, thirty-nine million American adults (18 percent) have discussed massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers, compared to 13 percent in 2008.

  • Of those 18 percent, 35 percent of their health care providers strongly recommended massage therapy, compared to 27 percent in 2008. While physicians led the way in recommending massage (55 percent vs. 50 percent in 2008), chiropractors (48 percent vs. 47 percent in 2008) and physical therapists (42 percent vs. 40 percent in 2008) also recommended massage therapy when their patients discussed it with them.

  • More than two-thirds of massage therapists (76 percent) indicate they receive referrals from health care professionals, averaging 1.5 referrals per month. This represents a significant increase from 2008, when 69 percent of massage therapists reported receiving health care referrals.

Massage therapy usage in hospitals is common.

  • The number of hospitals offering complementary and alternative medicine grew from 7.7 percent in 1998 to 37.3 percent in 2007. Of those hospitals that offer CAM therapies, massage therapy was offered by 70.7 percent.

  • Stress-related issues are major reasons why hospitals offer massage. 71.2 percent of hospitals that offer massage provide it for stress reduction for patients, and 69.1 percent of hospitals that offer massage provide it to staff to reduce stress.

  • Among hospitals that offer massage, some other prevalent populations served and/or reasons for massage include:

1) Pain management (66 percent)
2) Massage for cancer patients (57 percent)
3) Pregnancy massage (55 percent)
4) Part of physical therapy (53 percent)
5) For mobility/movement training (45 percent)
6) Palliative care (41 percent)

Massage therapists and consumers are in favor of integration of massage into healthcare.

  • More than half of adult Americans (59 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.

  • A great majority of adult Americans (92 percent in 2006 and 96 percent in 2009) agree that massage therapy should be considered part of the health care field.