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I have been a certified massage therapist for almost 3 years now. I have been doing pretty well for myself, and my clients aren't complaining. I have enrolled myself in some continuing education classes and getting those underway.

I took a leadership class not too long ago and the thing that struck me the most was having a mentor in your prospective business. I am self sufficient, but could definitely use the wealth of knowledge that comes from someone that is more seasoned than myself.

Are there any of you that have mentors, and if so how did you go about acquiring them?

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Sounds like a good idea. But based on my experience it is hard to find someone who will be willing to do such a thing. It seems as if everyone tries to get and keep everyone for themselves. I am one who realizes that everyone is not for me and I am not for everyone. It is like those who have been in the industry for a while dont want to help you out unless you want to work for them. You may get some insight from those who live in other states; over the internet but I doubt if you can get anyone local to do so. I wish you the best of luck on that one.

I write everything I can about massage and about massage business and have it on my many websites to help massage therapists.  I have  a Facebook fan page where people are free to ask questions.

 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Massage-Practice-Builder/60800917270

 

AMTA was starting a mentoring program.

 

Go and get a few massages from people who you admire in your area and then just start asking them if they would work with you.  You can also start your own peer group with others in your area to help get the support you need.

 

Julie

www.massagepracticebuilder.com

www.massage-career-guides.com

www.thebodyworker.com

Frank: It's sad, but that is true for a lot of things. I think that people think that if they help you, you will want to take what they have. And of course, that is the furthest from the truth in some cases. I mean there are always people out there that are scheming to take what is yours. However, I am of the mindset, what God has for me, is for me. That means that if a person is meant to be my client they will. We are afterall looking out for the best interest of the client. I will keep up the search, and keep you posted. Thanks!

 

Julie: Thanks for the references! I will definitely be looking into them. I think it is a great idea for me to get a few massages from people that I admire. It's a starting point. Thanks again for the information.

 

 

I'd like to mention a couple issues here.  I'll put a slightly different spin on this as I usually do. 

 

I've found many willing to mentor, we just have to ask.  Many will do this for free also, btw.  Keep in mind that most everyone has areas that they are very proficient in as well as areas they are not.  So, figure out what you need and match it to what others excel at.  Yet, let's back up a moment, first. 

 

First and foremost, take a long hard look at yourself and your massage practice.  What do you do well and what is it you really need to improve upon?

   

Also, and this is the main point in the reply, master your approach to learning, first!  What do I mean by that? 

 

Learn how to observe and communicate yourself.  If you are looking for a mentor in marketing and advertising your massage business, look at what others have produced.  If you are looking to improve your communication skills with a client, getting them to rebook with you and such, find a mentor that has great communication skills and role play with them.  This of course leads to the next area that is critical: 

 

Learn how to communicate with your mentor properly!  First, of course, is learning how to truly listen.  Clear your mind of all pre-conceived notions of what you know and truly listen!  If I'm having a conversation with let's say, Erik Dalton, about myo-skeletal alignment, I'm not going to get into some sort of intellectual debate with him over my opinion vs. his opinion.  He's the mentor, remember?  Listen closely to what this other person has to say, understand what they just said, then if you have questions, question away.  I see this all the time.  Last year in a massage CE course the teacher asked for questions.  One therapist got up and rambled on for five minutes.  At the end the teacher said, "Ok, do you have a question?"  No, there was no question.  The MT just wanted to 'one-up' the teacher and demonstrate to the class how much she already knew about said topic.  IMHO, this is not the place for this.  Besides the point of wasting all of our time, it demonstrated (to me) that said therapist at this point really wasn't interested in learning, but had shifted her mind-set to competition and 'I know as much as you do.'  Bleh.    

 

I, myself, work with fellow therapists both in person and via the Internet on the business aspect of massage.  Here's the perfect example of what I'm talking about, above.  I meet in person with a local MT who wants to grow her business.  I usually begin by asking several questions in regards to their business, what it is they are currently doing, etc., etc.  I figure out where they are and then begin to explain a couple of ideas that will work.  Yet, unfortunately, I never get very far.  Why?  The other MT I'm working with is not listening closely to what I'm saying.  They mentally pick out a couple of keywords and then judge them based on their previous experience.  Then of course they interrupt me telling about this or that, etc., etc.  Gee, hold on!  I've not even got the entire idea out on the table yet!  Another tactic used is the mental race to the finish line.  I already know what you're going to say, so I finish your sentence or thought process for you.  How can we be truly listening if we're already jumping ahead in the discussion? 

 

Learn how to listen.  Learn how to process in your mind what is said and or demonstrated.  Then, ask questions for clarification.  I know what I mention above may sound like, "shut up and just listen," and yes, that is part of it.  I'm not saying to never comment or ask questions.  Yes, please do.  But FIRST, listen and understand!   

 

Also, we have to understand the teacher/student relationship, or mentor/MT relationship.  At times I'm the teacher, other times I'm the student.  If we don't have this relationship then it's a conversation or a gossip session  ;)  That's fine, but you're looking for a mentor, correct?   

 

Here's another perfect example of communication, not mentoring, but it fits.  As I type this I received a call from a local MT asking about a massage CE course that I'm coordinating.  She asks me a question and as I begin to reply, something I said spurred her brain to remember the answer to said question and she proceeded to talk right over me answering her own question.  She then proceeded to do this several times and I just remained silent and listened to her talk to herself.  At one point she asked me if I was still there.  "Yea, I'm still here."  Of course I was polite, but at the same time I'm wonder why she called me.  If she would have taken just thirty seconds more in looking at the website in front of her, there would have been no reason to call me!   See?  Reading and understanding, first!  

 

Another important aspect of mentoring or being mentored is the Action phase.  This is when you actually DO, or create and implement your plan of action.  If we never DO anything then all the theory or great ideas are for not.  This is the biggest stumbling block I've seen with massage therapists.  Great ideas, very, very few are ever implemented.  Create something, learn something, and then put it into action!   

 

This is getting a bit long so I'll wrap this up.  There's much more to this, but I think what's mentioned above works. 

 

Last but not least, and I'll be a bit blunt here, are we looking for a mentor or just someone to complain to?  I see a lot of this as well.  Misery loves company.  Sure, we need to explain what we're doing and what's not working, but don't let the discussion turn into all about complaining.  Are we truly looking to learn or just complain?  This always begins with our self, first.  Figure out what exactly you need a mentor for.  (Don’t get too hung up on this; the mentor may understand more than we do and show us that our focus is completely off track.)  Then, put your listening ears on, observe how the mentor does this or that, understand the who, what, when, where, why and how they are doing it, question and comment when appropriate to ensure we understand, then put it into action and track the results.  Hey, I complain all the time!  ;)  I just don't mistake this for a mentoring session! 

 

Kris

 

P.S. – I just have to throw this in here  ;)  Look at your clients.  Do you listen and understand them?  Hopefully you do!  If Joe Snuffy comes in for a Swedish massage and is feeling fine, we’ll knock it out.  But, if they come in with cervical issues, limited ROM, then I’m going to spend much more time with them on the intake form, the client interview.  I listen and understand what they are saying.  Sure, what they say and what may be happening in their body may be completely different, but it sure assists in building that relationship with the client!            

 


Kris,

Thank you so much for your input, I read and understand everything you illustrated here and it makes perfect sense. Being able to look someone in the eyes and being able to understand what they are saying can be two different things. Luckily the two students that I mentored both mature highschool students who seem to have an interest in understanding what I was talking about. I have seen students come out of school with no idea what it means to understand a conversation and it makes me wonder why they have come to me for questions to start with. Also Im not saying that I am not beyond seeking out a mentor, because I would if I felt the need was there. For me I feel a need to learn something on my own, it tends to make it more clear to me. I will listen to someone and understand, but at times I feel that if I cant measure the info in my mind then I need to figure it out. My students understood where I stood and where they belong. WONDERFUL. These students could not leave highschool without completeing these projects. I felt very proud of both of them but the feeling that my heart felt was awesome. I actually jumped into this because I was ask to. I have an issue with not helping someone, when I can. The presentation that I gave these sttudents was one that I had to understand so that I could convey the message to them. We all won ! Kris always feel you can throw a spin in if it will help someone. Thanks again !
Kris Kelley said:

 

I'd like to mention a couple issues here.  I'll put a slightly different spin on this as I usually do. 

 

I've found many willing to mentor, we just have to ask.  Many will do this for free also, btw.  Keep in mind that most everyone has areas that they are very proficient in as well as areas they are not.  So, figure out what you need and match it to what others excel at.  Yet, let's back up a moment, first. 

 

First and foremost, take a long hard look at yourself and your massage practice.  What do you do well and what is it you really need to improve upon?

   

Also, and this is the main point in the reply, master your approach to learning, first!  What do I mean by that? 

 

Learn how to observe and communicate yourself.  If you are looking for a mentor in marketing and advertising your massage business, look at what others have produced.  If you are looking to improve your communication skills with a client, getting them to rebook with you and such, find a mentor that has great communication skills and role play with them.  This of course leads to the next area that is critical: 

 

Learn how to communicate with your mentor properly!  First, of course, is learning how to truly listen.  Clear your mind of all pre-conceived notions of what you know and truly listen!  If I'm having a conversation with let's say, Erik Dalton, about myo-skeletal alignment, I'm not going to get into some sort of intellectual debate with him over my opinion vs. his opinion.  He's the mentor, remember?  Listen closely to what this other person has to say, understand what they just said, then if you have questions, question away.  I see this all the time.  Last year in a massage CE course the teacher asked for questions.  One therapist got up and rambled on for five minutes.  At the end the teacher said, "Ok, do you have a question?"  No, there was no question.  The MT just wanted to 'one-up' the teacher and demonstrate to the class how much she already knew about said topic.  IMHO, this is not the place for this.  Besides the point of wasting all of our time, it demonstrated (to me) that said therapist at this point really wasn't interested in learning, but had shifted her mind-set to competition and 'I know as much as you do.'  Bleh.    

 

I, myself, work with fellow therapists both in person and via the Internet on the business aspect of massage.  Here's the perfect example of what I'm talking about, above.  I meet in person with a local MT who wants to grow her business.  I usually begin by asking several questions in regards to their business, what it is they are currently doing, etc., etc.  I figure out where they are and then begin to explain a couple of ideas that will work.  Yet, unfortunately, I never get very far.  Why?  The other MT I'm working with is not listening closely to what I'm saying.  They mentally pick out a couple of keywords and then judge them based on their previous experience.  Then of course they interrupt me telling about this or that, etc., etc.  Gee, hold on!  I've not even got the entire idea out on the table yet!  Another tactic used is the mental race to the finish line.  I already know what you're going to say, so I finish your sentence or thought process for you.  How can we be truly listening if we're already jumping ahead in the discussion? 

 

Learn how to listen.  Learn how to process in your mind what is said and or demonstrated.  Then, ask questions for clarification.  I know what I mention above may sound like, "shut up and just listen," and yes, that is part of it.  I'm not saying to never comment or ask questions.  Yes, please do.  But FIRST, listen and understand!   

 

Also, we have to understand the teacher/student relationship, or mentor/MT relationship.  At times I'm the teacher, other times I'm the student.  If we don't have this relationship then it's a conversation or a gossip session  ;)  That's fine, but you're looking for a mentor, correct?   

 

Here's another perfect example of communication, not mentoring, but it fits.  As I type this I received a call from a local MT asking about a massage CE course that I'm coordinating.  She asks me a question and as I begin to reply, something I said spurred her brain to remember the answer to said question and she proceeded to talk right over me answering her own question.  She then proceeded to do this several times and I just remained silent and listened to her talk to herself.  At one point she asked me if I was still there.  "Yea, I'm still here."  Of course I was polite, but at the same time I'm wonder why she called me.  If she would have taken just thirty seconds more in looking at the website in front of her, there would have been no reason to call me!   See?  Reading and understanding, first!  

 

Another important aspect of mentoring or being mentored is the Action phase.  This is when you actually DO, or create and implement your plan of action.  If we never DO anything then all the theory or great ideas are for not.  This is the biggest stumbling block I've seen with massage therapists.  Great ideas, very, very few are ever implemented.  Create something, learn something, and then put it into action!   

 

This is getting a bit long so I'll wrap this up.  There's much more to this, but I think what's mentioned above works. 

 

Last but not least, and I'll be a bit blunt here, are we looking for a mentor or just someone to complain to?  I see a lot of this as well.  Misery loves company.  Sure, we need to explain what we're doing and what's not working, but don't let the discussion turn into all about complaining.  Are we truly looking to learn or just complain?  This always begins with our self, first.  Figure out what exactly you need a mentor for.  (Don’t get too hung up on this; the mentor may understand more than we do and show us that our focus is completely off track.)  Then, put your listening ears on, observe how the mentor does this or that, understand the who, what, when, where, why and how they are doing it, question and comment when appropriate to ensure we understand, then put it into action and track the results.  Hey, I complain all the time!  ;)  I just don't mistake this for a mentoring session! 

 

Kris

 

P.S. – I just have to throw this in here  ;)  Look at your clients.  Do you listen and understand them?  Hopefully you do!  If Joe Snuffy comes in for a Swedish massage and is feeling fine, we’ll knock it out.  But, if they come in with cervical issues, limited ROM, then I’m going to spend much more time with them on the intake form, the client interview.  I listen and understand what they are saying.  Sure, what they say and what may be happening in their body may be completely different, but it sure assists in building that relationship with the client!            

 

Hi Tene,

I have been a LMT now for two years. I am always looking for better ways to do something, I have really learned a lot of different ways of doing things by just talking to some of my fellow massage and bodywork therapist here. I understand what you are saying about wealth of knowledge of the veteran. Ive never had  someone who I considered a mentor but have had the priviledge of mentoring someone. Again the SEASONED LMTs here have been helpful as well as the therapist that I know here in my town.

~

 

Thanks Travis for the kind words  ;)  You make excellent points, especiall this one:

 

"For me I feel a need to learn something on my own, it tends to make it more clear to me. I will listen to someone and understand, but at times I feel that if I cant measure the info in my mind then I need to figure it out."

 

Yes!  This is a point I left out.  The responsibility falls on our own shoulders.  We can have the best teachers/mentors in the world but it won't do any good if we don't claim the knowledge for ourselves and figure it out...for ourselves! 

 

As my Aikido Sensei always tells us, he's there more as a guide, point us in the right direction.  He can't learn the techniques for us or assist us in any way with understanding anything.  Again, we have to do this ourself! 

 

Also, this takes practice.  Open/effective listening and learning how to pay attention isn't learned over night.  As I'm a bit thick in the head myself, it took me years to learn this!  As we mature and really 'learn how to learn,' it really does take on a life of its own  ;)

 

Kris

I have a mentor and he chose me. I was a client of Mike Hinkle's back in 2005. I had my very first professional massage then. After a year of receiving massages at Pensacola Massage Center, Mike talked me into going to Massage School. So Feb. 2007 I enrolled and classes began in April. Once I finished Swedish and had some sense as to what a massage was to be like, I was allowed to massage for free at the Center to gain experience. I volunteered there twice a week on Tuesday Afternoons after school and Saturdays. Mike massaged me twice a week and I massaged  him once. All the things I was being taught wrong in school he was able to correct right away. Then once I gratuated, and received my license on Valentine's Day 2-14-08, I had a job. Even though he is now in North Carolina, I still consider him my mentor and bounce things off of him. I am very grateful to have had this rare experience. It would be great if all students had a mentor.

Hi Kris!

 

Thank you so much for this response. I do understand what you are saying and also understand the importance of figuring out exactly what I am looking for in advance in a mentor. For me, it is so important to have my stuff together before even approaching a mentor. That means that I have done some research for myself, and am interested in seeing the application of the research that I have done being carried out. It is always a blessing to be able to see the various ways that other massage therapists conduct their business. I am sure along the way I will find that in a mentor I will take some things away, and leave some things behind. However, listening is the key. In other mentors that I have for other business ventures, I have understood that it is the ones that are hardest on you...those that push you the most are also the ones that become the most successful in helping you to become the best that you can be.

 

Thanks again for the information, and I will refer to this information often as I venture to find a mentor.

Kris Kelley said:

 

I'd like to mention a couple issues here.  I'll put a slightly different spin on this as I usually do. 

 

I've found many willing to mentor, we just have to ask.  Many will do this for free also, btw.  Keep in mind that most everyone has areas that they are very proficient in as well as areas they are not.  So, figure out what you need and match it to what others excel at.  Yet, let's back up a moment, first. 

 

First and foremost, take a long hard look at yourself and your massage practice.  What do you do well and what is it you really need to improve upon?

   

Also, and this is the main point in the reply, master your approach to learning, first!  What do I mean by that? 

 

Learn how to observe and communicate yourself.  If you are looking for a mentor in marketing and advertising your massage business, look at what others have produced.  If you are looking to improve your communication skills with a client, getting them to rebook with you and such, find a mentor that has great communication skills and role play with them.  This of course leads to the next area that is critical: 

 

Learn how to communicate with your mentor properly!  First, of course, is learning how to truly listen.  Clear your mind of all pre-conceived notions of what you know and truly listen!  If I'm having a conversation with let's say, Erik Dalton, about myo-skeletal alignment, I'm not going to get into some sort of intellectual debate with him over my opinion vs. his opinion.  He's the mentor, remember?  Listen closely to what this other person has to say, understand what they just said, then if you have questions, question away.  I see this all the time.  Last year in a massage CE course the teacher asked for questions.  One therapist got up and rambled on for five minutes.  At the end the teacher said, "Ok, do you have a question?"  No, there was no question.  The MT just wanted to 'one-up' the teacher and demonstrate to the class how much she already knew about said topic.  IMHO, this is not the place for this.  Besides the point of wasting all of our time, it demonstrated (to me) that said therapist at this point really wasn't interested in learning, but had shifted her mind-set to competition and 'I know as much as you do.'  Bleh.    

 

I, myself, work with fellow therapists both in person and via the Internet on the business aspect of massage.  Here's the perfect example of what I'm talking about, above.  I meet in person with a local MT who wants to grow her business.  I usually begin by asking several questions in regards to their business, what it is they are currently doing, etc., etc.  I figure out where they are and then begin to explain a couple of ideas that will work.  Yet, unfortunately, I never get very far.  Why?  The other MT I'm working with is not listening closely to what I'm saying.  They mentally pick out a couple of keywords and then judge them based on their previous experience.  Then of course they interrupt me telling about this or that, etc., etc.  Gee, hold on!  I've not even got the entire idea out on the table yet!  Another tactic used is the mental race to the finish line.  I already know what you're going to say, so I finish your sentence or thought process for you.  How can we be truly listening if we're already jumping ahead in the discussion? 

 

Learn how to listen.  Learn how to process in your mind what is said and or demonstrated.  Then, ask questions for clarification.  I know what I mention above may sound like, "shut up and just listen," and yes, that is part of it.  I'm not saying to never comment or ask questions.  Yes, please do.  But FIRST, listen and understand!   

 

Also, we have to understand the teacher/student relationship, or mentor/MT relationship.  At times I'm the teacher, other times I'm the student.  If we don't have this relationship then it's a conversation or a gossip session  ;)  That's fine, but you're looking for a mentor, correct?   

 

Here's another perfect example of communication, not mentoring, but it fits.  As I type this I received a call from a local MT asking about a massage CE course that I'm coordinating.  She asks me a question and as I begin to reply, something I said spurred her brain to remember the answer to said question and she proceeded to talk right over me answering her own question.  She then proceeded to do this several times and I just remained silent and listened to her talk to herself.  At one point she asked me if I was still there.  "Yea, I'm still here."  Of course I was polite, but at the same time I'm wonder why she called me.  If she would have taken just thirty seconds more in looking at the website in front of her, there would have been no reason to call me!   See?  Reading and understanding, first!  

 

Another important aspect of mentoring or being mentored is the Action phase.  This is when you actually DO, or create and implement your plan of action.  If we never DO anything then all the theory or great ideas are for not.  This is the biggest stumbling block I've seen with massage therapists.  Great ideas, very, very few are ever implemented.  Create something, learn something, and then put it into action!   

 

This is getting a bit long so I'll wrap this up.  There's much more to this, but I think what's mentioned above works. 

 

Last but not least, and I'll be a bit blunt here, are we looking for a mentor or just someone to complain to?  I see a lot of this as well.  Misery loves company.  Sure, we need to explain what we're doing and what's not working, but don't let the discussion turn into all about complaining.  Are we truly looking to learn or just complain?  This always begins with our self, first.  Figure out what exactly you need a mentor for.  (Don’t get too hung up on this; the mentor may understand more than we do and show us that our focus is completely off track.)  Then, put your listening ears on, observe how the mentor does this or that, understand the who, what, when, where, why and how they are doing it, question and comment when appropriate to ensure we understand, then put it into action and track the results.  Hey, I complain all the time!  ;)  I just don't mistake this for a mentoring session! 

 

Kris

 

P.S. – I just have to throw this in here  ;)  Look at your clients.  Do you listen and understand them?  Hopefully you do!  If Joe Snuffy comes in for a Swedish massage and is feeling fine, we’ll knock it out.  But, if they come in with cervical issues, limited ROM, then I’m going to spend much more time with them on the intake form, the client interview.  I listen and understand what they are saying.  Sure, what they say and what may be happening in their body may be completely different, but it sure assists in building that relationship with the client!            

 

Hi Travis!

I am sure that I will be able to appreciate the wealth of knowledge of a seasoned massage therapist as well as those that I will be able to mentor in the future. I find that the relationship is quite reciprocal, which is a good thing. It keeps you humble, and knowing that we can learn from people at different stages in their career or life period.

 

Thanks for the response, and I will continue to pick the brains of the massage therapists here.

Travis Alligood said:

Hi Tene,

I have been a LMT now for two years. I am always looking for better ways to do something, I have really learned a lot of different ways of doing things by just talking to some of my fellow massage and bodywork therapist here. I understand what you are saying about wealth of knowledge of the veteran. Ive never had  someone who I considered a mentor but have had the priviledge of mentoring someone. Again the SEASONED LMTs here have been helpful as well as the therapist that I know here in my town.

I have found that most massage therapists I meet are in this business because they are people who are very giving and readily share of themselves.  Even a newbie (which I still consider myself at about 3 years in the business) has something positive to share from their experiences in massage and in life.  My experiences has been that if you share of yourself, others will be drawn to share with you and the mentoring relationship, official or unofficia,l grows from there. 

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