About FLSM

The Finger Lakes School of Massage offers 1,000-hour, New York state-approved holistic massage therapy training at two New York campuses. Students can choose our seven-month, full-time program or 23-month, part-time program to receive their New York massage therapy certification.



The way I learned it, to make something happen, you need to put in effort. Work, try, go toward what you want, and react against what you don’t want. Like many of us, I therefore became well practiced at pushing — whether the activity was massaging a body, learning a new skill, or interacting with my partner.

It came as a huge surprise — and a relief — to discover that my best clinical results as a massage therapist emerged from being still. When I relaxed into what was occurring instead of pushing (whether pushing for or pushing against), I worked more effectively and witnessed the greatest healing. When I applied this insight to my personal life, I had excellent results as well.

By “being still,” I don’t mean holding oneself still. By being quiet, I don’t mean making yourself quiet. Instead, I’m talking about dropping into the quiet that already exists, and recognizing the stillness within which all of life’s activity is already taking place.

To get a sense of this, become like the sky. The sky is a wide container within which the weather happens. Clouds may appear, but the sky doesn’t argue. On the other hand, it’s not a passive observer. Relaxing into what “is” requires you to be fully engaged. The sky fully participates in the weather, be it fluffy summer clouds or storm clouds.

The technical term for “being the sky” is the Practitioner Neutral. This term comes from Biodynamic Craniosacral Work (“Biodynamics”), a modality that upended my professional practice — and the rest of my life, too.

Biodynamics was invented by general practice physicians to treat their patients. But it can be distilled into a non-medical form that is a potent resource for generating healing and well-being. Students of my Biodynamics courses have applied the work to parenting, making art, riding horses, and being with dying loved ones — as well as massage, counseling, and other healing arts.

Why is the Practitioner Neutral so dynamic in its application? The reason is that there’s a therapeutic agency hiding in plain air at every moment.

The Neutral allows a painful feeling to be there. It could be a suffering shoulder or emotional tension. But in a Neutral, one feels the pain in the wider context of the whole — like sensing a cloud in tandem with the sky. In the stillness of a Neutral, motion is suspended and the context widens. A new dimension of health enters. Both practitioner and client might feel a rhythmic flow, called the Fluid Tide, whose current saturates the body with healthy information.

The Fluid Tide is an inherent therapeutic agency that attends to the maintenance and repair of the body. Sometimes its flow becomes inhibited by stress or injury. Biodynamics facilitates health by encouraging this healthy movement, as well as other organic patterns of health. (I recommend The Field by journalist Lynne McTaggart for an account of the body as a quantum biological energy field that carries information.)

The ability to maintain the Practitioner Neutral means that instead of trying to make things happen, one allows the wisdom of the body to do its work. My trade secret as a massage therapist is that I rely heavily on this inherent intelligence to do my work for me. It is unerring, it feels fantastic, and it gets results.

This may sound less than scientific. But the self-healing capacity of the Fluid Tide isn’t a theory. It is perceptible. In my professional practice, its effects have been undeniable, easeful, and occasionally near-miraculous. The route to engaging the Fluid Tide is the Practitioner Neutral.

Try it, and I suspect you will be amazed as well.

The Finger Lakes School of Massage sponsors continuing education in Biodynamic Craniosacral Work. Workshops are open to massage therapists and anyone who is interested. You can see more on my website

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Let’s Move!

As future massage therapists, FLSM students learn how to cultivate wellness, healing, and relaxation not only for their clients but also for themselves. Employing proper body mechanics—techniques for therapists to use their bodies in ways that prevent self-inflicted harm and injury—is one aspect of therapist self-care. Throughout the program, students build awareness of the needs of their bodies so that they can assess how they feel physically while giving massage and make changes as needed. Feelings of ease and relaxation in the therapists’ body are key elements of proper body mechanics, which can influence the way in which a clients’ tissue reacts to any given stroke. A substantial piece of students’ education at FLSM is learning to understand their individual needs during a session in order to provide exquisite care for their clients.

One way we encourage students to cultivate awareness and develop proper body mechanics is by incorporating movement into massage class. Every day, students have the opportunity to spend some time waking up their bodies before giving massage. Movement exercises stimulate positive energy in the classroom and offer students a chance to have some fun while stretching, shaking out stagnancy, and nourishing the flow of Qi or energy in their bodies. Instructors lead students in engaging activity that helps them notice how their bodies are feeling in the moment, and what they need to feel more at ease.

The movement offered in class varies from day to day depending on the type of massage students are learning. Any given day might include some stretches and  rolls (shoulders, wrists, neck, ankles, knees) to wake up the joints and muscles, yoga and breathing exercises for  focus and balance, and self-directed movements in which students can reflect on their own bodies and find the motion that fits exactly what they need in that moment. This daily practice prepares students not only for the physical work of massage but also for talking about the importance of movement and physical self-reflection with future clients.  Most importantly, students  develop habits of tuning into themselves so that they can regularly feel comfortable and energetically viable while giving massage in their own practice.

The following are some feel-good movements for you to try:

  • Ragdoll Fold: Bend forward at the hips and let your upper body hang. You can bring some side to side movement in by swaying slightly. Feel the nice stretch on the sacrum and lower back.
  • Jelly Arms: Let your arms go limp at your sides, then jump or sway using only your legs, letting your arms move only through the momentum of your leg movements and the force of gravity.
  • Leg Wake-Up: Sit on the ground with your legs out on front of you and space between your ankles. Let one ankle move side to side with the movement directed from the hip joint. Switch legs. Repeat.

Now check in and notice what’s going on in your body. Where do you feel energy flowing? What areas feel loose, spacious, and warm? Where do you notice differences?  What areas still need more attention and movement? Tell us about your experience and your favorite movement activities in the comments!

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Many FLSM students decide to pursue a career in massage therapy to fill a gap or find greater fulfillment in their professional or personal lives. One the reasons people find this career so rewarding is that it necessitates regular self-care. As common sense suggests, healers can only help others find relief, peace and happiness if they themselves feel well in body and mind. Our graduates often deem learning how to regularly take better care of themselves as one of the biggest lessons learned during the program.

Self-care is many things, it could be saying no to something that does not serve your wellbeing. It could be treating yourself to a day off from work. It could be committing to a healthier diet or an exercise routine. It could be spending time with loved ones.

For massage therapists, self-care is an important tool to ensure a sustainable career. In addition to providing quality therapy for clients, self-care helps therapists maintain their physical health so that they can enjoy long careers. Stretching before and after sessions, drinking plenty of water, practicing proper body mechanics, receiving massage, taking a foot bath, and breathing are just a few ways massage therapists keep themselves healthy and happy on (and off) the job.

At FLSM, we value the practice of self-care and strive to create a culture that encourages it, in support of the success and happiness of our students. Movement activities are built into massage class daily as a warm-up to bodywork practice. Several breaks throughout the day give students the chance to restore. Our curriculum even includes two half-day lessons devoted to exploring methods of self-care as a massage therapist professional. Here are some of our students’ own favorite self-care activities:

“Running around the lake.” –Kendra S.

“Treating myself. Eating ice cream. Being in nature.” –Julia W.

“Yoga and meditation.” –Erik S.

“Spa and pedicures! And telling myself it’s okay to take time for self-care.” –Michelle R.

“Going to church every week and getting enough sleep. Even just breathing.” –Donna H.

“Taking time to think about myself and being self-aware.” Jocelyn P.

What does self-care mean to you? In which aspects of your life do you feel fulfilled? Are there areas that could feel more gratifying, such as your career? We invite you to share your thoughts!

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Reflexology and it's Health Benefits.



You may have seen these charts and wondered, “What is this all about?” You are not alone in being curious about how points in the feet and hands could effect the rest of the body. These charts are used for the practice of Reflexology, the theory that massaging certain areas on your feet and hands can affect the health of your entire body. Reflexology is an extremely old practice with documentation of its uses found in ancient Egypt and China.   It can work alongside conventional Western medical medicine to promote healing, improve wellbeing and increase vitality. The theory behind reflexology is that these highlighted areas on the feet and hands correspond to organs and systems of the body via the body’s energetic pathways. Reflexologists believe that by pressure and massaging of these specific points it will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system to heal itself.  It is also believed that pressure applied to these specific points will positively effect the correlating organs and benefit the person’s overall health.  A Reflexology treatment can also have the benefit of stimulating circulation, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation.

Massage Therapists can easily incorporate reflexology into a full body massage. Therapists use these charts to guide them as they apply pressure/massage to the specific areas of the foot and/or hand.  Some practitioners incorporate items, such as rubber balls or wooden sticks to assist in their treatment. Practitioners of reflexology include massage therapists, chiropractors, and physical therapists, among others.

Several studies funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health indicate that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and enhance relaxation and sleep. Studies also show that reflexology may have benefits in palliative care of people with cancer. (Source:

(The following information is courtesy of

Research  has shown the specific techniques of reflexology to be effective and  beneficial in many ways. Reflexology impacts a variety of physical and  psychological concerns. See examples below:

  • Creates relaxation: From the  moment the reflexologists hands start their work, the relaxation begins  as shown in research using EEG brain activity.
  • Reduces pain: Pain reduction following reflexology work is  documented.
  • Ameliorates health concerns: Research shows that reflexology work  helps individuals of all ages ranging from  aggressive behavior in children to urinary concerns of the elderly.
  • Improves blood flow: Separate studies show that reflexology work increases blood flow to the feet, brain, kidneys and intestines.
  • Aids post-operative recovery: Reflexology work aids recovery after  surgery as shown by several studies, reducing pain and lessening the use of post operative analgesics.
  • Impact on physiological measures (e. g. blood pressure and cholesterol; measurements by ECG, EEG, and MRI)
  • Enhances medical care: Reflexology helps where nothing else can for  many: phantom limb pain sufferers, neuropathy patients, and hemodialysis patients to name a few.
  • Benefits mental health: Research demonstrates that reflexology can reduce depression and anxiety.
  • Complements cancer care: Pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or anxiety eased for chemotherapy patients following reflexology.
  • Eases pregnancy, delivery and post-partum effects: Women who received reflexology experienced shorter labor times and used less analgesia. In addition, reflexology showed a positive impact on postpartum depression, anxiety, urination and bowel movements.

The benefits of reflexology are notably related to the overall reduction of stress. Because the feet and hands help set the tension level for the rest of the body, applying focused pressure to certain points can interrupt the stress signal and reset homeostasis, the body’s sought after state of  equilibrium. The next time you get a massage ask to have some reflexology incorporated into your treatment!

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A History of FLSM Ithaca

Located on Ithaca’s West Hill, the founding campus of the Finger Lakes School of Massage has been housed since it was founded 20 years ago in a large stone building that we lovingly refer to as our “massage castle.” Since the school began 20 years ago all of our classes have learned the art and science of massage in this grand building and spent free time and study time enjoying the picturesque grounds and amazing view. The distinctive building, set back from the road on a large u-shaped driveway is a point of interest for prospective students on tour as well as passersby, interested in learning about the history of the building. I had always been told that the building was built for use as an orphanage, but never knew the official story. Recently I took a trip down to The History Center of Tompkins County to find out the facts about this place where so many massage therapists began their journey learning their craft. Here is what I found:

FLSM is housed in what was originally built as the main administrative building for The Grand Lodge Home and Orphanage of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, not the actual orphanage. The Odd Fellows were a philanthropic group with a branch in downtown Ithaca. In the early 1920s The Grand State Lodge of Odd Fellows was looking to build a home for elderly members of the organization. The mayor of Ithaca at that time, Louis P. Smith, an Odd Fellows member, pushed for the home to be built in Ithaca. A 120-acre farm on Trumansburg Road was chosen as the site due to its views of Cayuga Lake, the town of Ithaca and Cornell University. The buildings were designed by the best known local architects, Gibb & Waltz, and the stone used to construct the buildings was taken from a quarry on site. Dates differ, but sometime in the summer of 1923 the main building of the Home was completed and housed 35 residents. Not long after the main building was completed an orphanage and infirmary were added to the site. By the 1970s membership of Odd Fellows in Ithaca was dwindling and the Home was in need of many expensive repairs. Over 500 people had lived in the Home by the time it closed and sold to Cornell University in 1979.

This building has been our home for the last 20 years. It’s a quirky building, but a fabulous place to get a massage education. Next time you are in the area come visit and see what we do each day at the school. Or like us on Facebook and we’ll keep you updated on all of the amazing events we are planning in our massage castle.

Historical information provided by the History Center of Tompkins County

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Muscle of the Moment: Psoas

It’s likely a muscle you never heard of, but it’s perhaps the most fundamental: Its name is psoas, and it influences nearly every movement your body makes.

Some nickname it the “tenderloin.” Often, it is grouped with neighboring muscle iliacus and thus referred to as iliopsoas. Some have even heard it called the muscle of the soul. Truly its name is psoas major, which comes from the Greek psoa meaning loin and the Latin maior meaning greater. A smaller version of the muscle exists as psoas minor, occurring in only some of the population. But everyone is blessed with psoas major—necessarily, for it lies at the core of movement throughout the body. In the words of Ithaca FLSM Education Director Linda VanAlmelo, psoas propels us forward in space physically, emotionally, and spiritually, “initiating the forward movement of our lives.”

It is a powerful muscle. Psoas runs on both sides of the body from the lower portion of the spine to the top of the femur and lies deep to all of the organs and muscles of the abdomen. The primary actions of psoas are hip and trunk flexion (raising the leg toward the chest and bending the trunk forward) and lateral rotation of the hip (turning the hip outward). But it does much more.

Psoas plays a role in the survival response, using hip flexion to fight or flee or to assume the fetal position by bringing the lower limbs toward the head in order to protect the front of the body. Through its direct connection to the diaphragm, psoas influences breathing patterns. It also creates a “shelf” on which most of the internal organs of the abdomen sit thus influencing vital body functions and movement of fluids like lymph and blood (the connection of psoas to the diaphragm, which also massages the internal organs as it moves, is another way psoas plays a role in organ health). With its home deep in the body’s core—the “gut”—psoas even affects our intuition and other soulful emotions.

Because of its encompassing influence, an unhappy psoas can quickly throw off the body’s balance. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms including: low back pain, sciatic pain, disc problems, scoliosis, leg length discrepancies, hip degeneration, knee pain, menstrual pain, infertility, digestive problems. Many people deal with chronic pain for years only to find relief with the help of a therapist who releases a woefully tight psoas. Such a release can be profound: To again quote Ithaca FLSM’s Linda VanAlmelo, “Releasing and revitalizing Psoas allows us to regain a deeper core integrity, connect with our instinctual wisdom, and increase both our functional movement and self-expression.”

So how does one keep Psoas healthy? Massage! Stretching! Movement! The following links provide more fascinating tidbits about and ideas for tuning into psoas. Let us know if you try them out and what you find!

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Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage

An Aromatherapy Massage is a massage session with the addition of highly concentrated plant oils, called Essential Oils. These oils are usually added directly to the massage oil or lotion during the treatment and have both aromatic and therapeutic benefits for the client. Essential oils are distilled from a plant’s flowers, leaves, stalks, bark, rind, or roots. Aromatherapy practices that are widely used today originated in Europe and have been practiced there since the early 1900s.

The way the process in our bodies works is that the nostrils are attached to a part of the brain called the limbic system; this controls emotions and influences both the nervous system and hormones in the body. When you inhale essential oils, these molecules send messages to the limbic system that can affect heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, memory, digestion, and the immune system. Essential oils are also believed to absorb through the skin during the massage. Depending on the type of oil, the result on the body may be a calming or stimulating one. The oils are believed to interact with the body’s hormones and enzymes to cause changes in blood pressure, pulse, and other bodily functions.

Each essential oil has different healing properties. Some are used to calm, while others help to energize. Here are some commonly used essential oils and their properties:

Calming – chamomile, lavender, geranium

Cleansing – rosemary

Decongesting – eucalyptus, pine, tea tree

Energizing – rosemary

Euphoric – Ylang Ylang

Refreshing and cheering – citrus

Relaxing, centering, sensual – sandalwood

Uplifting – sage, rose

Visualizing and meditative – frankincense

Why do people get aromatherapy massage? As a massage therapist, adding aromatherapy massage to your roster is a great way to easily add value to your services. Often aromatherapy massages cost a small amount more than a standard Swedish session and doesn’t add much in terms of cost for the therapist. Aromatherapy massage is widely used for conditions involving stress or improving a client’s emotional state. Medical conditions that might be recommended for an aromatherapy session include; insomnia, headaches, digestive disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), back pain or general anxiety.

The massage therapist will want to ask questions during the client intake which will provide information on which essential oil(s) to use. Based on your answers the therapist will mix the chosen essential oils into the massage oil or lotion. You will notice the subtle aroma of the essential oils as they fill the air around you during the massage. Afterwards, the massage therapist may suggest a blend that you can use at home in between massage treatments to continue the effects of the oils. Next time you go to get a massage ask your massage therapist about an essential oil treatment and get the added benefit of these amazing plant based products!

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FLSM Attendance Questions

Each day at FLSM, class begins with all the students and instructors sitting in a circle to talk about the work they have been receiving. They discuss the new work to be learned that day and perhaps troubleshoot any problem areas students have encountered; but first we need to take attendance. It seems like a simple enough task, but in true FLSM fashion we don’t take the simple route of having our students call out “present” or “here” when his or her name is called. We take this opportunity to ask a question to of the class and instead of the perfunctory “here” the student gives their answer in lieu of “present.” The attendance question is one of the hallmarks of the FLSM experience and for some students, one of the most memorable parts of their time here. Some questions relate to the work of the day, others to current events, but the ones that stick in students minds long after they graduate our program are the seemingly absurd questions that make you think, but mostly make you laugh.

The purpose of the attendance question is threefold:

1. To take attendance: Although we are an unusual or non-traditional institution of learning, we still are, after all, a school and therefore have to keep track of when our students do and don’t attend. While we do have to take attendance, it doesn’t have to be boring. In fact we prefer it to be an exciting and thought provoking part of each class.

2. To learn more about the people around us: At FLSM, students work very closely together in a literal sense, and while they naturally form friendships during their time here, we can glean even more about the fabric of their lives before finding their way to massage school from listening to their responses to the questions each day. These questions can at times seem silly, but they are powerful. By sharing daily in the classroom, these interactions play a big role in creating the community of the group by further understanding each member of the class one question at a time.

3. To bring lightness and humor to the classroom: sometimes massage work can be very serious, bringing up emotions held in the body for years, encouraging reflection, and releasing old trauma. These questions are a way to find understanding and connection through humor. Even if the question is not inherently funny, oftentimes the act of sharing answers will reveal the oddities of self-reflection and the hilarity of shared human experience. After all, one mission of FLSM is to provide excellence in education in an atmosphere of joy, curiosity, respect and discovery.

A sampling of attendance questions to ponder:

If you were a bird, what bird would you be?

What is your favorite song lyric?

What are you grateful for right now?

What are two of your weaknesses?

What is the answer to the first question that pops in your head?

If you could choose a superpower what would it be?

And the perennial favorite: If you could have any substance shoot out of your belly button what would it be?

Tell us your answers to some of these attendance questions in the comments below! 

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Volunteering with Massage and Touch Therapy

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” -Winston Churchill

Volunteering with Massage and Touch Therapy

The word volunteer can be defined as a noun, an adjective, or a verb. This proves how much power a single term can have. Whether it’s the act or the title, it signifies something greater. Here at FLSM, community service and awareness are hallmarks of our massage therapy program. The students and faculty participate in a myriad of different events, benefits, and volunteer services that bring joy and healing touch to the community.

As part of the curriculum students are required to choose a community service project.  At our Mount Kisco campus we offer two options for community service placement: working with local seniors or a care facility for the developmentally disabled.  Both our campuses are extremely fortunate to be located close to centers like these and assisted living facilities. Helping people in our backyard who can truly benefit from massage therapy (but may not normally have the means to) has brought much empowerment and awareness to the benefits of therapeutic touch and movement. Everyone involved is appreciative for the opportunity to have this experience. The program has become a huge success and is an integral part of the students’ education.

“It’s my favorite moment at school. I look forward to it every week.”  David Maine-student at FLSM stated when mentioning the work done with the developmentally disabled.

Working with a senior citizen for five sessions allows the student therapist to create not only a treatment plan for the individual, but also a long lasting friendship. Seniors enjoy the benefits of massage while not having to worry about high cost or a visit to a medical environment. Each week treatment and assistance offer the student therapist room to grow and develop techniques based on their senior client’s requests for a customized massage session. It nurtures the student’s future, and the senior may even become a client as part of their own practice one day. Working with people with health conditions and ailments that affect their daily life creates confidence and gains knowledge for our future licensed massage therapists.

Helping out at the nearby developmentally disabled community center is another wonderful volunteer service our students provide. They provide healing and caring touch to many wheelchair bound participants and those with movement impairments. As a result, participants in the touch therapy program are more sociable and interact with peers and others to a greater degree, and act with more mobile independence. Our students help with the local MOVE Program (Mobility Opportunities via Experience.) It is an innovative national program that enables people with significant developmental disabilities to improve sitting, standing and walking skills. The program greatly enhances a person’s ability to move on his or her own, through the use of adaptive equipment and intensive one-on-one instruction. We are proud to be a part of this incredible service, which enhances people’s dignity, as it improves their quality of life in such a significant way.

Opportunities arise weekly for FLSM and its student therapists to help out the community. One of the most fun ways to accomplish this is through community and outreach events i.e. awareness walks/runs, marathons, charity galas and functions, etc. Visiting local wellness centers and festivals are a great way to offer the public the benefit of massage while teaching real life experience to the student body. Truly anywhere can be an opportunity to promote healing through touch.

Volunteering brings such immense joy and pride to the participants here at FLSM. A chance to help others can make all the difference in our students’ lives and education. The benefits of the volunteer programs we offer are endless. Not only does it help build experience and a resume but a kind heart as well.

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Staff Interview - Judy Malloy, Director of Student Services in Ithaca

1. Tell us about your experience as a massage therapist. What motivated you to pursue this career path? What settings have you worked in and what type of work have you enjoyed doing most?

I came from a theater background as an actress and singer in New York City. I was always the person backstage giving backrubs, and then the AIDS epidemic hit, and I lost seven amazing friends. I found during their deaths that touch helped, so I ended my theater career and returned to school to become a massage therapist.

The connection for me between theater and massage therapy was that there was a story–story in the tissue, story in the words and the language, and that that was the commonality in my approach to the work and how I experienced it. When that became clear I realized that’s what I was listening for—this silent recorded memory—and  when I started listening as a therapist, people started healing on different levels. I’ve been in private practice for 18 years. I ended up working alongside two psychologists and one psychiatrist, and they began referring clients to me. I worked with a lot of women with a history of abuse and some really traumatic stuff, so my world as a massage therapist unfolded in working where the mind, the psyche and the spirit overlapped.

2. You also have professional training and experience as a counselor. How has this complemented your career as a Licensed Massage Therapist and as Director of Student and Career Services at FLSM?

A client in England, who was a psychologist, recognized some of what was happening on the table during our sessions was not dissimilar to talk therapy, so she encouraged me to pursue counseling training in England. I’m a huge advocate for talk therapy and massage therapy, but there has been resistance in the professional world to combining them. I think there is informed and deeply moving experiences when this is done with compassion and knowledge. Both fields resist that crossover, but somehow that’s where my life emerged.

I think that one of the most important things that happens with a lot of repetitive bodywork—as is true in the FLSM program—is that it inherently creates a shift.  A transformation, moving to some uncomfortable places, a recognizing pain in some places where it hasn’t been experienced before or recognizing that your body isn’t numb. Having my own experience of coming awake, this process of self-discovery uproots what people thought was safe and protected. In drawing from my own experience, I try to hold and support that transformation for FLSM students. I’ve seen it happen over and over with bodywork, having practiced myself for two decades and experienced this transformative process over the years: Compassion and integrity brings to the surface whatever the healing needed is. As a healer, you can learn something and create a change in one’s life that also impacts the earth. For me in my role as Director of Student and Career Services, being a networker, cheerleader and an advocate for that kind of dream is exciting for me.

3. What do you enjoy most in your position as Director of Student and Career Services?

I most enjoy the moments when a student’s struggles lift or when they realize that they aren’t in pain anymore, whatever that pain was. It means so much when I give a student a moment of encouragement, and they stick with it and then they graduate and get their license and their lives change because of it. So the cheerleading part is definitely a huge part of my joy in this role. My other favorite thing is that the whole student body is supported from one office, and I feel so privileged to be with both full and part-time students. I love that I know all of the students here, and that I can help them get the most out of this program.

4. What are some common challenges faced by students on their journey to becoming massage therapists? How have students overcome such challenges in the past?

Discomfort with being touched. Sometimes students aren’t ready for what it feels like to experience so much touch, so experiencing the feeling of vulnerability is common. Financially it can get tight and stretched and scary. And it can be a stressful thing to reinvent oneself, which can present as a real challenge for some students. There is no student that is the same person on the day of their graduation as they were on the day of opening circle, and how the external world receives those changes can be daunting for almost anyone.

I encourage a lot of journaling so that there’s a way to look back, and I think there’s a real power in pen and paper since it involves both kinesthetic and verbal action. I encourage a lot of self-care and kindness to self. The habits and patterns that sabotage us around challenges—something that I find manifests in test anxiety—are defenses that the body has put in place that can ultimately harm us. Identifying these patterns, becoming aware that they exist and that they can shift is a big part of overcoming such challenges. I invite students to e-mail me all the time and any time at all! DON’T HOLD IT IN!

5. What do you see as being one unique aspect of the student experience at FLSM?

The call to authentic communication, reflective listening, and non-judgmental observation invites each student into an opportunity for inward growth and outward compassion. It’s pure. Healing.

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