By: Gloria Coppola-Gaber
We both decided to attend lectures and workshops, which included Dr. Bernie Siegel, Marianne Williamson and topics like iridology and past lives. We brought laughter into the medical practice, truly the best medicine. The patients loved the "new" approach.
Soon, thereafter, I was attending massage school, learning all I could about natural health care, studying hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, myofascial release, homeopathy and anything else that was in front of me. Everything I was learning resonated with my soul and the feelings that I always had inside of me as a child.
Within a couple of years, I was guided to open a holistic center. It was a multi-dimensional unit of practitioners. My goal was to bridge the gap between the holistic minded and the medical profession. Within these walls we had a naturopath, chiropractor, psychologist, hypnotherapist and bodyworkers. The only thing we lacked was a medical doctor to work along with us. Since I am a dreamer, I had no idea how challenging this concept would be.
My head began to spin with ideas and I decided to sponsor a Body, Mind, and Spirit Expo in my county. I was amazed and thrilled with the response from individuals wanting to participate. I contacted several medical professionals I had known from my years in the health care field and was disappointed that I could not find anyone willing to join forces and create an unforgettable union of both worlds. This was in 1990.
My heart however, was saturated with grateful people who showed up an hour early and stood in line to attend this huge event. Tears flowed from participants, thanking me for opening the minds and hearts of people and providing the opportunity for them to explore this Holistic world. I knew at that moment that this was the right choice and everything would fall into place in time.
Needless to say it wasn't long before the holistic center was growing rapidly. It was in a time when people were searching for hope and answers.
A massage school evolved from this with classes and workshops on all topics of health and metaphysics, nutrition, yoga, tai chi classes and more events in the attempt to bridge the gap of all of those involved in a health profession.
Five years later, several medical doctors I knew approached me about opening a holistic medical center. I was delighted to see that some doctors were considering the integrative approach. I felt that the road I was paving, the risks that I took, was opening individuals to forge beyond their comfort zone and follow suit.
Along the way I met and worked with a variety of health care professionals who did honor the healing work of massage. For instance, a chiropractor friend has respected my skills from the day we met 20 years ago. He asked for my advice, which surprised me. He took bodywork trainings I suggested to enhance his career and provide the best care for his patients. Today, he is one of the finest healers I know and truly takes a holistic approach to the needs of his patients.
A medical doctor was involved in a severe car accident. After traditional approaches did not work for her, she came to me for cranio-sacral therapy. Her symptoms improved drastically, so much, that she eventually studied cranio-sacral, reiki and many other healing modalities.
An orthopedic surgeon became intrigued with the relief a mutual patient was obtaining from techniques I performed. He and a team of rehabilitative professionals wanted to know what I did to relieve the pain. I was honored to receive this recognition and to be able to prove that techniques like myofascial release or neuromuscular therapy when appropriately applied can change patterns and ease pain symptoms. The patient did not require surgery as a result. I was receiving a huge amount of referrals from the medical community and had to hire other massage therapists. I was excited about the changes I was experiencing.
So, after a long journey of studying healing modalities obsessively, I am pleased to share that for the most part, many positive changes have occurred. I have seen the massage profession & holistic field expand and gain recognition. The stigma that was attached to this profession has been fading away slowly. Health care professionals are referring clients, mostly in more metropolitan areas. The techniques being taught currently are more specific and respected by those who are providing quality continuing educational courses.
In addition, over the years I have worked diligently in changing town and county laws that have placed the massage profession under the "adult entertainment" category. I've assisted schools across the U.S. to change their standards and write curriculums that provided more in depth and detailed trainings. I encourage the proper preparation of the student so they feel confident and ready to enter a field that is more than just for luxury, relaxation or making money.
I am continually an advocate for raising the bar on massage. And I am for teaching therapists how to approach and educate medical professionals or their community on the benefits of massage.
I am adamant about teaching respect for the body, how to touch compassionately and honor the temple space that is a privilege to touch.
I am proud to that know many of my former students are successful massage practitioners. They are confident, strong and powerful individuals who continue to enhance their professionalism and maintain high standards for the massage industry.
The journey has been exciting and challenging. I am blessed to have been chosen and to have had the pleasure of working along with so many powerful and insightful individuals. It brings me joy to know that so many lives have been touched. I would not change this for anything.
We still have a long way to go. It is my hope that one day our health care community is able to recognize our abilities as enhancing. I hope we will able to work cohesively as professionals to provide the best health care for each other.
First, as body workers, need to align together and recognize each other as colleagues and not as competitors.
We are all here, after all, to help others. It's that Simple!