About Cassie

Licensed Massage Therapist for 9 years, business owner since 2007.

Top 5 things your massage therapist wants you to know about couple’s massages

The weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day always bring lots of questions about couple’s massages. These are a fun way for people to enjoy time together, but ridiculous and unrealistic “reality” TV show portrayals of couple’s massages can leave people baffled about what they can actually expect. Here’s are the top 5 things our therapists want you to know if you’re thinking of booking a couple’s massage.

1. Couples massages aren’t just for romantic couples.

At East Village Spa we see mother/daughter and BFF duos in the couples room frequently. Particularly heartwarming for our LMTs  are the times our licensed massage therapists get to treat family members together when one person is looking after a loved one with an intellectual or memory impairment and chooses to relax with their family member in the same room to help them feel comfortable. A couple’s service is appropriate as long as both parties are comfortable disrobing (to whatever level they choose) in front of each other and sharing health information with their massage therapist in front of the other party.

2. Let your partner relax without judgment

During a massage, people fall asleep and snore. Your massage therapist sees that as a compliment (and if the session is geared towards relaxation massage, this is the goal!) During a couples massage, let your loved one be themselves, even if they are sawing logs next to you. One of our therapists’ pet peeves during couples massages is when one guest scolds their significant other for snoring during a session. This startles not only your partner but both of the massage therapists too. Don’t wake your sweetie, let them snore! If snoring will interfere with your ability to relax, you might consider booking your services in separate rooms.

3. Don’t stare (or glare) at your partner’s massage therapist!

Licensed massage therapists are health care providers with extensive training and high ethical standards. Nothing is more awkward than one when a guest receiving a couple’s massage stares (or in some cases, glares) at the therapist providing a service to his or her significant other. This makes us incredibly uncomfortable and self conscious. When someone stares at a massage therapist, it is difficult for us to focus on the task at hand: attending to your loved one’s muscles and tissues, watching for subtle signs of discomfort or relaxation to help us provide the best therapeutic service we can.

4. Couples massages on reality TV are far from real!

We’re amazed by the number of couples who want to hold hands during their session. If your tables are close enough for you to hold hands, then they are too close for your massage therapists to work around. Nobody wants only half of their body massaged! Hold hands on your walk to and from the treatment room, but enjoy your own relaxation space on the treatment table. Rose petals on the table might look pretty on camera but in reality, they’ll stick to you and smash into the carpet and your therapist will end up having to pick them all off as he or she goes. Lastly, you won’t be staring longingly st each other, deep in conversation. You’ll be resting quietly face down in the face cradle or face up looking at the ceiling, much safer, more comfortable positions for your neck.

5. Do you! Couples massages don’t need to be the same.

Some people think a couples massage will be perfectly synchronized, but in reality, they are completely customized for your unique preferences in pressure, technique, and focus area. For example, one person can get a sports massage and another can get a prenatal side-lying massage in a couples service. As long as the massages are the same length of time and we know in advance which services you want so we can pair you with the appropriate specialists. Some services like hot stone massage or our barefoot bars aren’t available in the couples rooms due to space and equipment availability.

Robes at East VIllage Spa
Couples receiving multiple services like massages and facials will receive a robe to change into for easier transferring between rooms. Otherwise, you will just disrobe in your treatment room.

Ready to book a couple’s massage? Give us a call at (515) 309-2904. Online booking isn’t available for couple’s services, but we’re happy to help over the phone. We look forward to helping you relax together! Be aware that these services are so popular they are often booked several weeks out for evenings and Saturdays so please plan ahead! We do keep a waitlist for last minute cancellations, so don’t hesitate to add your names to the list for those who like to be more spontaneous. Learn more about our services online!

Blog by Cassie Sampson, LMT, Owner and Justin Behanish, LMT, Managing Massage Therapist at East Village Spa in Des Moines, IA.

Gift card FAQ and troubleshooting

We love the simplicity of online gift cards and for those who are new to purchasing from our Zenoti online store, we’re happy to walk you through the process. First things first, PLEASE create an account. We don’t use this to market to you, but it is imperative if the recipient loses the gift card or accidentally deletes the e-mail. We can use your name to help find it. If you check out as a guest, it is really awkward when someone calls to ask for our help locating a gift card they’ve lost and doesn’t want to fess up to the purchaser. Click here for our online booking and gift card store.

Get to the online gift card page

Step 1 (desktop or laptop computer): Click the green “Book now or purchase gift card” button. From there, click the tab on the top right for “Gift Cards” and that will take you to our online gift card page.

If you’re using a phone or tablet, it will look different (see below). Go to our home page and click the green “book now or purchase gift card” button on top, then you’ll get to the mobile enabled page which has the menu as 3 bars in the top right corner. Click that for the menu to appear.

The menu on the phone will then look like this:

Select your amount

Once you’ve selected the “Gift Cards” tab, you’ll choose an amount. We have several pre-selected amounts, or if you scroll to the bottom there is an option for a customized amount.

We do not sell gift cards for specific services as our menu changes seasonally.

Complete your order and e-mail your gift card

Once you’ve selected your amount, you can choose where the gift card will be sent. If want to print and hand-deliver or mail your gift card, enter your own e-mail address to have it sent to you. If you want to e-mail it to someone else, use their e-mail address. Remember, please create an account. I promise it will be worth the extra time if the gift card is lost or accidentally deleted. You’ll usually get the receipt right away but it takes a few minutes to get the actual e-mailed gift card.

Troubleshooting

If you have an issue with your online gift cards, fear not (especially if you created the account like we asked you to!) These are the most common issues and solutions.

  • The recipient (or I) never received the e-mail! It is probably in a spam folder or security net. Tell them to search for an e-mail from info@evdayspa.com. Some work e-mails from government agencies, law or financial firms sometimes catch our gift card e-mails up in their security settings for a few days.
  • Your online booking system won’t accept my gift card number to reserve an appointment. As it states on our online scheduler, a credit card is required to hold your reservation, but you can pay with your gift card at the time of service. We won’t charge the credit card used to reserve the appointment unless the appointment is missed without adequate cancellation notice. You can use your gift card to reserve an appointment over the phone.
  • I sent the gift card awhile ago but we lost it. You can re-send it! Keep your receipt, you’ll need the gift card number and the e-mail address. You can re-send it or check the balance to see if it has been used. Go back to the gift card tab and click the green button to “resend my gift card”

If all of the above don’t work, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (515) 309-2904 or e-mail EVSpaDesk@gmail.com with details about the date of purchase, your name, the recipient’s name, and the amount of the gift card. We sincerely appreciate you thinking of us for your gift and can’t wait to take amazing care of your loved ones at East Village Spa!

Secret Santa and Host Gift Ideas

Today on Star 102.5, Ken, Colleen, and Kurt talked about the stress of being a Secret Santa. I think the same can be said of host gifts when you’re invited to a dinner party or gathering and instructed to “Just bring yourself!” Here are a few simple ideas that could work for both!

Spices from East Village Shops

My current favorite gifting spice is the Ammazza Suocera spicy Italian seasoning from Allspice (also available at Cooking with Alessandra.) This translates to “Kill the Mother in Law” so you may want to select something like the Everything Bagel seasoning or a pumpkin pie spice if you’re visiting a future or current mother-in-law.

Hydrating hand creams

Farmhouse Fresh Ginger Lotion from East VIllage Spa

A hydrating hand cream from Farmhouse Fresh, available at East Village Spa, is a great gift for anyone who’s preparing a big meal and cleaning for company. Bonus points for animal lovers. Farmhouse Fresh donates a portion of their proceeds to animal rescue and is situated on a farm animal rescue sanctuary!

Cute dish towels and recipe cards

Doe a Deer Dish Towels

Stop into one of our favorite gift shops in the East Village, Ephemera, for cute and locally crafted dish towels and recipe cards. These are great secret Santa gifts for the co-worker who is always bringing treats, and a perfect host gift when you’re told not to bring anything to share!

Room mists for a great cause

Thistle Farms Room Mist East Village Spa

Thistle Farms aromatherapy room mists in limited edition holiday scents are a perfect gift for a host or Secret Santa. Thistle Farms supports women survivors of trafficking, abuse, and addiction. These women craft their beautiful products and the proceeds from their products goes back into the helping with the amazing work Thistle Farms does. Available along with many other Thistle Farms products at East Village Spa.

At home foot treatment

The Farmhouse Fresh Pedi Delight set is a great gift option, with a foot or body scrub, lotion, and our top selling Hydrating Honey hand, foot, or body mask. This is great for a secret Santa and can be divided up over multiple days OR as a host gift for someone who has been on their feet preparing for guests! Available at East Village Spa

Need something in a pinch? Try an online gift card!

Did you forget a last minute gift? We’ve got you covered! East Village Spa offers online gift cards in any denomination that you can print and hand-deliver from your office! Purchase yours here!

Lymphatic Drainage Therapy: Where should I start?

We get frequent requests for lymphatic drainage massage and after many years of experience as a massage therapist with a foundation in lymphatic drainage massage (100 hours of training plus teaching a course) the more I’ve learned, the more I understand the need to refer people out. In many cases, lymphatic drainage therapy is best provided by a physical or occupational therapist who specializes in this technique. Unfortunately, the training demands are rigorous so it isn’t something offered at every therapy clinic.

At East Village Spa, our primary concern is that our guests get the best care possible, even if that means we’re not the right solution. We refer all of our lymphatic drainage massage requests to Dr. Laurie Eikhoff at Intergrated Physical Therapy in Des Moines. She’s one of just a few CLT- LANA certified specialists in Iowa.

Spa owner and LMT, Cassie Sampson (Left) with Laurie Eikhoff, DPT, CLT-LANA lymphatic drainage physical therapist.

Who needs lymphatic drainage massage?

This specialized therapy is typically used to treat swelling from Lymphedema, which can be the result of an injury, illness, or surgery.

Lymphedema can be caused when lymph nodes are removed or damaged. It can be an unfortunate side effect of breast cancer treatments, when the lymph nodes in the underarm or breast are removed or destroyed in treatment, some women may experience a fluid build up from lymph fluid in the arm needing to be re-routed. We also have requests for this kind of therapy from people who have had cosmetic procedures like a tummy tuck or lyposuction.

Why can’t you just do my lymphatic massage at the spa?

I mean, we can (or, a few of us could) but but we’d be doing you a huge disservice by not referring out to a Physical or Occupational Therapist for 3 main reasons.

  1. Insurance: For people with lymphedema, treatments can be required 2-3 times weekly, at least in initial phases. In many cases, medically necessary lymphatic therapies can be covered by an insurance company, but not when performed by a massage therapist.
  2. Better results: In addition to having more medical training, physical or occupational therapists who provide these services can prescribe wraps, garments, or other assisted devices to continue therapy outside of the office. This is something that, at least in our spa, we can’t do.
  3. Lymphatic trained physical or occupational therapists are so specialized that for many of them, they do these treatments every single day (sometimes all day, every day.) They are very good at what they do and figuring out fixes for complicated situations.
Example of compression garments that physical or occupational lymphatic drainage therapists can use.

If you feel that you’re a candidate for lymphatic drainage and you have private insurance, as of the writing of this post, you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist. You also should contact your doctor because swelling can be indicative of a more serious concern.

If you would like to book a “regular” massage for pain relief or stress management, we’re here for you! Book online or visit our website for more details about our services.

Spalloween Details

Spalloween is our favorite event of the year. It is a blast for our employees, plus our guests can relax with mini spa services while they help us raise funds for Bailing out Benji, one of our favorite charities. We always have questions about what firt-time spalloween attendees can expect. Here’s a quick overview.

Mini Services

The highlight of Spalloween are our mini demo services. Almost all of these services are first-come, first-served sign up on-site. The suggested donation to Bailing out Benji is $10-$20 per service, depending on the service. Mini services include: Chair massage, polish changes, barefoot massage demos, Shiatsu floor massage demos, table massage demos, foot massage, custom aromatherapy blends, hydrating hand treatments, brow waxing and more! When you arrive, you’ll be given a service menu and tour.

Outside each treatment room is a sign-up sheet. Sign your name next to an open time and return to the treatment room in time for your appointment. Before you go, check out at the desk and pay for your service donations! Unless specified (for Hydrafacial and aromatherapy blending) 100% of the donation for services benefits Bailing out Benji.

Silent Auctions and Raffle

We have over 20 silent auction items plus a big raffle prize! Some of our silent auction items are available for online bidding on our Facebook page and some are reserved for in person bidding only. Raffle tickets are sold at the event and leading up to the event for $5 or 5 for $20. All proceeds from the auction and raffle benefit Bailing out Benji.

Meet Mindi and the Bailing out Benji crew

Have you met Mindi Callison and her Bailing out Benji team (ambassador pups included)? You will learn so much about puppy mills and this incredible woman who started a movement. Plus you can snuggle pups who have been saved from life in a puppy mill. Pose for photos and visit with dog lovers (and yes, cat people are welcome too.)

Snacks!

We’ll have plenty of vegetarian refreshments and yummy fall-inspired cocktails like our popular caramal apple spiked cider, wine, and non-alcoholic options.

Join us for Spalloween 2019 on Thursday, October 24th from 5-8pm. More details on our Facebook event. Check out the online silent auction items here. We’ll see you there!

FAQ: When should I come back?

A question we’re frequently asked is: How often should I get a (insert your favorite spa service here)? As far as how often you should get spa services, it depends on the service and why you are receiving it.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A FACIAL?

  • For general relaxation and routine skin wellness: typically a monthly facial will suffice, though we understand sometimes you have to stretch it out to every other month or quarterly. As long as you are using the products your esthetician recommends in between visits you should be fine. At a minimum, each season it is good to get checked out in case you need to change your routine due to changes in the weather and your activities.
  • For peels or Minus 10 protocols: you may need to visit in shorter intervals (perhaps 2-3 weeks) based on the treatment goal and where in your skin cell turnover cycle your esthetician wants you to repeat the service.
  • For acne facials like our “Clear Relief” facial: a monthly facial to assess skin, perform extractions, and do a deeper cleanse along with recommended home care between visits is necessary until the acne clears up.
  • For Hydrafacial: Monthly is a great starting point, but if you your esthetician may suggest a period of more frequent visits to address certain concerns.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A MASSAGE?

You can typically get massage therapy as often as you’d like, but any of us who have spent a day getting massage in school or testing massage students or job applicants can attest that there IS such a thing as too much massage! Your body will let you know when you’ve had enough! A few good suggestions for spacing your services:

  • General stress management and relaxation massages: These are fine in whatever interval you can manage with your schedule. We have clients in weekly (sometimes twice weekly), lots of every other week and monthly massage clients, as well as some who are able to treat themselves on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Sports massage: If you’re training for an event, regular massage at weekly or every-other week intervals are helpful to prevent injury and keep you on your training schedule. The type of massage your therapist recommends during training, shortly before an event (1-2 days) and shortly after an event will have different session goals, techniques, and duration.
  • Injury or specific focus work massages: The frequency will vary for these services based on what you and your therapist are addressing. It is possible to overwork an area and for most kinds of massage, we don’t want to further inflame an area so your therapist will suggest rest periods between massage. Typically we’d ask a client to come more frequently at the beginning of treatment for a specific issue until it has subsided (2 sessions in a week is not uncommon at this stage), then maintenance massages. Your therapist will gauge frequency based on how long the benefits of the treatment seem to last. Sometimes even a quick 30 minute treatment here or there can help maintain progress.
  • If you are seeing multiple providers to treat the same condition: We often partner with chiropractors and physical therapists for greater treatment effectiveness. Do make sure your massage therapist knows all of the treatments you’re receiving for the injury or health concern (i.e. physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc…) and make sure your other providers know you’re receiving massage so you don’t over treat a condition and all providers are on the same page with scheduling service frequency.

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO WAX?

Wax intervals vary greatly depending on the person, hair texture, ethnicity, hormones, and heredity play a role in how often you’ll need to book your follow-up waxes. It is important to grow hair to at least 1/4 inch before waxing to make sure the hair catches in the wax.

  • Facial waxing:Typically 3-4 weeks is common between waxing for brows, upper lip, and chin.
  • Brazilian/bikini, back and chest waxing: 4-6 weeks is a typical interval for Brazilian, back, and chest waxing.
  • Leg waxing: Leg hair needs a bit more time to grow in enough to wax, most people need to go 6-8 weeks once their hair is on a good growth schedule.

Are you ready for a rebook or looking to schedule your first service? Learn more and book online. Don’t hesitate to give us a call with your questions at (515) 309-2904.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

“Do guys go to the spa?”

YES! Our heavy focus on skilled massage therapy means we see lots of clients who are treating not only stress, but injuries as well. We also see men for grooming services like nail care, back and chest waxing, and skincare. Why should healthcare and grooming services only be for women? With Father’s Day coming up, we thought we’d share our top picks for gifts for the men in your life.

Gift Cards for Guys

A gift card is perfect because it allows the recipient to select the service that most fits into their preferences and schedule. Our gift cards are available in-spa or online for any dollar amount. You can also help Dad create a little spa retreat at home with one of the gift suggestions below.

Pain Relief Favorites

Our lacrosse balls are great for self-massage and trigger point therapy in the shoulders, low back, and arches of the feet. Rapid Fire Relief is a locally made pain relieving product that is oil based which means it lasts longer! It is available in a spray and roll-on.

Kniepp’s Arnica products are great for relieving inflammatory pain from arthritis, sports, or work injuries. The mineral bath is a must-have for everyone in my family and the active gel is great to apply to feet and legs for a cooling effect.

Bourbon Body Scrub

Farmhouse Fresh makes a delicious bourbon brown sugar body scrub that smells a bit like like donuts. It is great for giving your partner a back scrub body treatment in the shower and perfect to keep near the sink for a daily hand and cuticle exfoliation.

Stop into the spa during normal business hours to pick up a gift card or browse our self-care gift shop or visit our website to download and print or e-mail a gift card or book an appointment!

Stop into East Village Spa to check out our assortment of self care gifts for Dad!

Sunscreen FAQs

Lately there’s been buzz about chemical sunscreens. Many of our clients are asking if sunscreen is still safe. The answer YES! There are different types of sunscreens and it can get confusing. Our expert estheticians are here to sort it out for you!

Woman with hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen on her nose.

What’s the difference between chemical sunscreen and barrier sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreen contains ingredients that absorb the sun’s rays, change them to heat, then release them from the skin. These are sunscreens you’re most likely to find mass marketed and probably what is in your pool bag. I sometimes use an aerosol chemical sunscreen when I swim alone so I can get my back and I don’t plan to stop. We understand clients are concerned right now because the FDA is investigating 12 ingredients used in chemical sunscreen for more information because these ingredients can absorb into the body. The FDA and American Academy of Dermatology still want people to use sunscreen, even chemical sunscreens, during this study.

Physical barrier sunscreens are those that contain zinc oxide and block the rays from getting to your skin. These are the sunscreens we carry from Rhonda Allison because they are tend to be better for sensitive skin and cause less irritation.

Chemical sunscreens are hit and miss causing serious skin irritation for my husband and me, so we’ve both found Zinc Oxide barrier sports sunscreens work best to protect us when running or biking in the sun. Granted, these are thick and don’t absorb quickly…but we’d rather have streaky sunscreen residue on our skin than cancer! Our favorite sport brands for our sensitive skin are Think Sport (available at REI) and Blue Lizard (which we’ve only found online).

What is the difference between Rhonda Allison E-Zinc and Daytime Defence Sunscreens?

Rhonda Allison Sunscreen eZinc vs Daytime Defense
Rhonda Allison offers two sunscreens. EZinc, and Daytime Defense

Rhonda Allison eZinc Protection Cream is a highly protective barrier sunscreen with Zinc Oxide offering a natural SPF 22 for daily sun protection without leaving the skin white or pasty. This is light, quick-absorbing, and may be used day and night. If you travel light like me, you COULD use this as a light nighttime moisturizer for a few days if you’re only packing a carry-on. This is great for people who are a bit more sensitive, oily, or breakout prone. It also has a really accessible price point to make it easier to use daily. Personally, I’m a fan of the eZinc, but it is less protective than the Daytime Defense SPF30.

Rhonda Allison’s Daytime Defense SPF30 is an ultra-refined complex; perfect sun protection providing a continuation of good skin care. Giving skin support to guard against environmental pollution, it glides on skin for soothing moisture protection you will feel all day. Using Zinc Oxide to as a natural sun barrier, this pure and clean formulation protects the skin while providing antimicrobial, antioxidant, and soothing, healing support that is ideal for all skin types.

Whichever type of sunscreen you put on in the morning, it won’t protect you from the sun all day. You’ll still need to reapply regularly and after any activity where you sweat or get wet as these are not waterproof or sport sunscreens.

My make-up has sunscreen, am I good to go?

No! Make-up with SPF and mineral make-up is great for added protection, but if you’re wearing it thick enough for a sufficient application to protect against sun exposure, we need to have a chat about how much make-up you’re wearing!

I see scary stories about sunscreen in my facebook feed, how do I know who to trust?

It is important to carefully select reliable sources when researching health information online and making health decisions. Skin cancer is a serious issue. To get you started on your research for the best sunscreen for you, check out the well-researched sources I used for this post: American Academy of Dermatology and the Mayo Clinic. Want more advice or want to try on some of our Rhonda Allison sunscreens? Stop into the spa or book a facial with one of our licensed estheticians for customized advice.

Customized massage for mental health care

Years ago, I was seeing a spa guest for frozen shoulder pain. She’d been in a few times previously. This visit was different. I tapped at the door to see if she was ready, and she was wrapped in the sheet, standing and sobbing. I offered her some water and sat with her on the massage table. When she was able to slow her breathing, she explained that she was having a panic attack. She had just had an MRI for her shoulder a few days prior and had a panic attack in the machine. She said it was terrifying. When she put her face in the face cradle of my massage table, the same feeling washed over her and triggered a panic attack.

We decided we’d continue with the treatment, but we modified it to the sidelying position (think sleeping on your side) on the table with the sheet covering her, but draped lightly with her arms and feet out so she felt free to move. This position made all the difference and we did sidelying massage for the next few visits.

The sidelying massage position is helpful for people who experience claustrophobia

Guests prone to anxiety or panic attacks may also benefit from shorter sessions and slower techniques until they get used to the idea of massage. Sometimes faster massage techniques can be too stimulating for someone who is already on alert. Taking slow, deep breaths before and during the session can help as well. It is also helpful to ask your therapist what you can expect during the session (I call this a “road map”) so you can relax your mind instead of wondering what is coming next. Know that you have the right to ask your therapist to stop or take a break.

Slower massage techniques are sometimes helpful for people who are anxious.

Some guests, especially those who have a history of abuse, no longer feel comfortable in their own bodies. Massage can be a safe way to experience touch and massage therapists can even share self-massage techniques to help with stress management and to reconnect an individual with his or her body (American Massage Therapy Association.)

Some clients who have experienced abuse feel more comfortable receiving services where they can be fully clothed. Treatments we offer that can be done without disrobing include foot massage, assisted stretching, Craniosacral therapy, acupressure, Shiatsu, and even facials or nail services. All of these include safe touch and allow guests to control the session. They can stop or modify the service at any time. It is important for guests to share their needs with their provider so their provider can check in more frequently to ensure comfort or see if adjustments can be made, allowing their clients more control of the session.

Many massage and spa services can be performed fully clothed. Talk to your provider about your comfort level disrobing. He or she should be able to modify the service.

Guests who experience PTSD also benefit from massage therapy. A 2012 study found that veterans who received massage therapy reported significant reductions in physical pain, tension, irritability, anxiety, and depression (Collinge et al, 2012). Again, it is important for massage therapists to ensure guests are in complete control of the session. Therapists should ensure adequate time to address questions before and during the session. Guests should feel comfortable speaking up, whether they need more or less pressure, a change in position or technique, or to take a break or stop a session entirely. At East Village Spa, we understand the need for massage therapy to address PTSD for our military personnel. We offer a specially priced “Military Massage” to make massage therapy more accessible.

Whether you are living with a mental illness or are anxious about trying massage therapy, know that modifications can be made to ensure your comfort. Your massage therapist is not a mental health counselor, but he or she should be a good listener, able to suggest or accommodate changes to your session so you feel entirely in control. If a therapist is unable or unwilling to honor your needs, or if you have had an uncomfortable experience in the past with massage therapy, consider trying it again with a different therapist. Communicating your needs and preferences before the session is essential to ensuring you will get the massage you deserve.

Learn about the our massage therapists here. If you’d like to discuss the options that would be best for you, feel free to call us at (515) 309-2904! We would be happy to help you find the best service and providers for your unique needs.

Resource: Collinge W, Kahn J, Soltysik R. Promoting reintegration of National Guard veterans and their partners using a self-directed program of integrative therapies: a pilot study. Mil Med. 2012;177(12):1477–1485. doi:10.7205/milmed-d-12-00121

Ending the Stigma: Cassie’s Mental Health and Massage School Story

I’ve never shied away from talking about my own mental health challenges. Starting from my early teen years (did you know half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14?*), I visited many doctors and GI specialists for digestive disorders that had become life limiting, to the point of agoraphobia (fear of leaving my home or comfortable spaces). I had to take uncomfortable tests that showed everything was fine. This caused more frustration because everything was not fine. Sorry if this is TMI, but I was eating Immodium like candy to survive high school.

The issues worsened in college, to the point that one year, I developed such an extreme fear and anxiety of being in the claustrophobic dining hall because of my digestive issues, that I ate only what I could make in my dorm room. It wasn’t until after college that I realized that all of the abdominal problems that triggered such panic were actually caused by anxiety in the first place. Once I managed the anxiety, I managed my digestive issues and got my life back.

Talking openly about mental health was a key to managing day-to-day life. In the late 90s and early 2000s, this was not the norm at school or work, even though anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). It wasn’t until I started massage therapy school in 2005 that I found a place where this was encouraged. In fact, we regularly checked in as a group on how we were feeling, how different types of massage techniques impacted our bodies and minds. It was normal and expected to share the changes and emotions we experienced. Some techniques alleviated anxiety, some techniques exacerbated anxiety.

Cassie teaching at Body Wisdom Massage School with colleagues.

Sharing this information helped all of us gain a broader body of knowledge so when we saw clients in the real world, we’d have a basis for understanding their experience with massage massage therapy and we learned helpful modifications to sessions. By working on students with diverse health needs, we’d see things like a class partner having a panic attack and stopping a session in class, we’d learn other ways to position a client who feels claustrophobic with the head rest, or even how to fine tune our massage speed to help calm a classmate with a racing mind. When we encountered these sessions in our practices, they weren’t new or scary, and we were able to help provide our clients with whatever the needed to feel comfortable, whether that meant ending a session, changing a technique or position, or taking a break to just breathe.

Many of our massage clients live with mental illnesses or go through challenging mental health periods. We understand because these are issues that our providers or their loved ones experience too! In my next post, I’ll share some of the ways massage therapy can be beneficial for people struggling with mental health challenges, and how we can modify services to meet your individualized needs.

Massage techniques for anxiety and stress management at East Village Spa

Book your East Village Spa massage at www.EVDaySpa.com. Curious about massage therapy as a profession? E-mail us! EVSpaDesk@gmail.com. I’m happy to share about my own experiences and help you find a good school.