About massage and bodywork

If you are new to massage therapy and bodywork, there’s a lot to learn! You probably want to know what to ask for, so here are the basics.

When many people think of massage, they think of Swedish massage. I like to think about Swedish massage as squishy — it’s primarily a circulatory massage that pushes fluids through your soft tissues toward your heart via long strokes, with some squeezing, kneading, wringing, and similar moves. Stale blood and toxins are moved out of your tissues and fresh blood with oxygen and other nutrients moves in.

It feels relaxing and refreshing.

My integrative massage and pre- and post-natal massages are based on Swedish massage and include other massage techniques and bodywork as needed. Same with my Back Shoulders Neck Head and Neck and Head sessions.

Orthopedic massage (aka clinical massage) focuses more on recovery from injuries and conditions and is not a full-body massage but uses some Swedish techniques as well as specific clinical techniques.

I avoid saying I do deep tissue massage because there’s so much misunderstanding about what it is. Many think it means deep pressure, even to the point of literally crushing the soft tissues.

I don’t crush. It is painful, can damage your tissue, and is exhausting for me. If that’s what you want, you can get it from a deep tissue specialist. At many chains, you can ask for a Swedish massage with firm or extra-firm pressure, and they’ll assign you to a therapist who’s probably bigger, taller, and stronger than I am. On my massage table, nothing should ever hurt beyond the “hurts-so-good” level.

Deep tissue massage, in my understanding, includes techniques that work the deeper layers, and requires more sensitive listening skills than just brute force. Trigger point therapy is considered deep tissue work, and trigger points don’t have to be crushed to release. Deep Massage and myofascial release can also be considered forms of deep tissue massage, as they work with the soft tissues for the purpose of aligning the body’s structure. I incorporate both of these modalities as needed into my massage sessions.

Many massage therapists also offer bodywork. Bodywork includes ways of working with the body except for Swedish massage. Bodywork may work more specifically with reflex zones that affect the entire body (Reflexology), use techniques that align the skeleton (Zero Balancing), employ techniques that improve the flow of energy (Zero Balancing and Deep Massage), and use techniques working with the craniosacral system (Classical Craniosacral Therapy) to relax and ease specific conditions. Biodynamics, another form of bodywork (or it could also be called energywork), works with wholeness — your tissues, fluids, and energy fields to augment your natural energies to heal and reorganize in a more optimal way.

About my path

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 10.11.49 PMMy conscious healing path began with a tragic traumatic loss in childhood and a car accident in middle age compounded by more typical life stressors like working full time while going to grad school while raising a daughter.

Over the years, I’ve explored various healing modalities, and I contemplate my personal koans, How much better is it possible for me to feel? and How relaxed can I become and still be awake?

Bodywork (along with changing my diet and taking up meditation and movement practices) has been key to healing my body, heart, mind, and spirit.

I sought and received craniosacral therapy monthly from one of Austin’s most highly regarded practitioners because I figured it would help with injuries from the car wreck. I didn’t know it could also help with trauma recovery.

Unfamiliar with the subtle work, after the third session, I noticed I felt calmer, with a stronger sense of myself and more equanimity, and that grew after each session. Later sessions helped me relax more deeply than I knew was even possible. I was amazed at my therapist’s palpation skills and her knowledge of anatomy, and I felt better and better over time, with more confidence and clarity.

My interest in bodywork led me to train in Reiki. A few weeks after my training ended, I used it on a gifted healer/friend who had injured his foot. He recovered more quickly than expected and told me, “You need to get a license to touch people.” As a result, I went to massage school rather than acupuncture school.

David Lauterstein and me, April 2011

I attended the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in Austin, graduating from the 500-hour basic program and later from the 250-hour advanced program.

A few months after becoming licensed, I learned about craniosacral biodynamics and was asked, “Why aren’t you a craniosacral therapist?” Three days later, I was in training to learn this form of healing.

I’ve trained in classical craniosacral therapy with the Upledger Institute as well.

In my advanced training at Lauterstein-Conway, after my first Zero Balancing session, I stood up and was amazed — I felt taller, more spacious, with more ease of movement and a nice energy buzz flowing through my body. It was as if my unconscious but habitual tension patterns had dissolved, gravity had lessened, and my life force energy had been turned up. I wanted to give others that experience.

Meanwhile, in school and on jobs at Massage Envy, Massage Harmony, Seton Cove, retreats, trainings, offices, medical settings, sports events, a chiropractic office, Cureville at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and other places as well as my private practice, I developed the ability to give a good massage, integrating my skills to apply to each person’s needs in the current session.

Besides completing 750 hours of massage training at Lauterstein-Conway and many other hours in continuing education, I am certified in:

  • Classical Craniosacral Therapy
  • Deep Massage: The Lauterstein Method
  • Orthopedic Massage and Assessment
  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Massage

I belong to the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) and follow its code of ethics. I am also certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and follow its code of ethics and standards of practice.

I have assisted David Lauterstein (Zero Balancing) and Ryan Hallford (Craniosacral Biodynamics) in trainings and am in the process of becoming certified in those modalities as well as continuing my craniosacral therapy training with the Upledger Institute.

I blog about wellness (in addition to this work-related blog), and I use my Facebook business page and my occasional newsletter to share interesting articles on wellness. I’ve long been interested in wellness, trauma recovery, movement, and meditation.

How can we release the conditioning of the past and awaken to our essential selves and stay awake?

I have an MS degree in Community & Regional Planning from UT/Austin and a BA in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. I’ve previously worked in publishing, government, and technology. I have a grown daughter and a grand-daughter — so lots of life experience!

I’m a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), incorporating some aspects of modern shamanism into my life and work. I began practicing yoga in 1982, later completing yoga teacher training. I’ve enjoyed ecstatic dancing since 1995.

In 2017, I took a 10-day vipassana meditation course and have scheduled another for early 2018. I also take classes in qigong, tai chi, and Aikido.

In 2016, one of my dreams came true when I was invited to share an office suite with the gifted biodynamic craniosacral therapist I mentioned above, Nina Davis, and with Christian Michael Current, also exponentially gifted in biodynamics. I am thrilled and starstruck to be working with these two. In 2018, Nina is moving elsewhere, and Denise Deniger (another biodynamicist) is joining Christian and me in our office suite.

Bonus: my office looks out onto a wild scrubby Central Texas hillside. Connecting with nature (internal and external) is a big part of biodynamic sessions.


My practice goals

I give each recipient my best. I interview you to find out your goals for each session and have you map your problem areas. We agree on a session plan before the session (which can change if needed) and a treatment plan after.

I check in with you several times during each session as well as afterwards, and you can give me feedback at any time.

I encourage repeat sessions because it usually takes 3-5 sessions to develop a deep level of trust between us, making our work together more effective.

Often people come in every 1-2 weeks for help with a specific condition, and after it’s resolved, they come in monthly or quarterly for maintenance. To make this affordable for more people, I offer discounted prices (see Services page for details).

I love to listen to what your body tells me and let those messages guide my work.