Subhadra Gerard: On Massage and the 2018 AGM Workshop

Subhadra Gerard is based in Perth, Western Australia and was elected to the AMT Board in 2017. Over the years, Subhadra has achieved a few qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Occupational Therapy
  • Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy)
  • Diploma of Remedial Massage
  • Certified KMI Structural Integration Practitioner
  • Certified Craniosacral Therapist
  • Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Subhadra kindly sat down and chatted with us this week about his massage career and the workshop he’s presenting at the AMT AGM in Adelaide on Saturday 12 May 2018.

What brought you to the world of massage therapy? Is it really 30 years?

Yes, it has been a long time. I did my first training certificate in therapeutic massage back in 1982 while I was living in NZ, but I wasn’t thinking particularly about making a fulltime career out of it. Doing casual work suited me just fine and allowed me to keep my ‘day job’.

However, as fate would have it, 2 years later I was involved in a car accident that left me pretty banged up. That little life changing event instigated an ongoing journey through the world of massage and a bunch of other bodywork therapies, both as a receiver and a giver. Along the way, I made the decision to devote myself to soft tissue therapy and moved to full time bodywork in 1995. And here I am!

You’re an educator and work in clinical practice. How does that work?

In addition to my clinical practice, over the years I have spent a lot of time in front of classrooms teaching various elements of massage therapy at the North Metropolitan TAFE, other private RTOs and at Edith Cowan University. But in recent years, having retired from TAFE, my time has been predominantly spent in the clinic (which I am really enjoying), plus running intermittent hands-on workshops for therapists. Oh, and I almost forgot, for the past year I’ve been squeezing in various responsibilities on the AMT board.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Hmm … good question. The one-line answer is: take things quietly. I enjoy a red wine (it’s my analgesic of choice), a nice meal with friends, and bush walks where there’s no one else around. I love reading, so I’ve often got my nose in a book. I’m not one for reading one book from cover to cover and then starting another. Instead, I generally have 4-5 books on the go at any one time. Currently I’m reading:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Money Sex War Karma by David Loy

The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor

I’m also an avid traveller. I try to get overseas twice a year. Anywhere in Asia will do. I love all the different cultures, geography and cuisines. Being so close to Perth, it’s very accessible and cheap to get there.

Next up is a trip back to Thailand and then I plan to head further west, with a trip to Sri Lanka and then possibly Iran.

What tip(s) do you have for massage therapists?

1. Look after yourself

Over the years, I’ve seen too many therapists leave the industry because they sustained problematic injuries to their thumbs, fingers, wrists or shoulders. They hadn’t been using an appropriate self-care program. Some didn’t have ANY self-care program. Self-care is paramount. Things like using a good adjustable table, correct body mechanics, effective energy efficient techniques, a regime of strength and stretch exercises to maintain strength, endurance and flexibility, etc. etc. etc … (geez, I’m starting to sound like a TAFE lecturer!).

2. Keep learning

Getting the diploma is only the beginning. There is so much more that you need to learn to broaden and deepen your knowledge. And please don’t do it just because you have to earn CEUs. Do it because you want to. If you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your profession, the rewards for you (and your clients) will be numerous.

What is the greatest challenge for massage therapists at the moment?

Our greatest challenge is SURVIVAL. I guess you can take that comment in a number of directions, so I’ll just comment on one aspect here. Most massage therapists are small business operators and that is a tough gig. It is not just a matter of putting out your business sign and everyone rushing to your door because you are the best goddamn massage therapist since Erik Dalton.

It takes ongoing planning, marketing, networking and administration skills to start up and maintain your business. Unfortunately, this is where many (not all) massage therapists let themselves down. The Diploma of Remedial Massage has business units built into the course for the obvious reason that it’s very relevant but I’ve seen many students ‘fall asleep’ or develop a glazed-over look in their eyes when it came to that part of the course. And then they move into the industry, haven’t got much of a plan and really struggle to build up a sizeable client base and make a decent living from their labours. And then they leave.

We need to put in place a program that assists new therapists entering the massage therapy industry. A program that offers a supportive resource base that fledgling therapists can access as they navigate their journey to sustainable clinical practice. Now there’s an idea – some sort of a Mentoring Program perhaps? I wonder if I can sell that idea to the AMT Board.

You’ve been on the AMT Board for 12 months. How challenging have you found it and is it what you expected?

Yes, it feels like just yesterday (laughter). Because it’s only been a year, I’m still finding my feet, really. This is my first stint as a Board member but it’s not thrown up any surprises for me.

Wrong board?

If an AMT member is interested in getting involved with the Board, where do you suggest they start?

I would recommend that they contact one of the current Board members directly and interview them about what Board members get up to. A face-to-face opportunity is best so if you are able to make it along to the next AGM in Adelaide or the upcoming AMT conference in Sydney, make yourself known to one of us and have a chat.

You’re presenting a workshop during the AMT AGM on “Easing the neck using a blend of myofascial and mobilisation techniques“. What can participants expect from the workshop?

I am of the view that therapists can never get enough anatomy so we are going to start with a brief, succinct review of the anatomy of the neck. Having refreshed our awareness of where the muscles are that move the neck (and head), as well as the location of important blood, lymphatic and neural pathways, we will spend the majority of the day applying various myofascial techniques that I have learned along the way and now use to very good effect in my day-to-day clinical practice. I will be sharing my own broad spectrum approach by demonstrating some techniques that are very gentle (indirect), while others will be firmer (direct). How many techniques we cover will be governed to some extent by the level of experience and particular goals of the workshop participants. A surprising number of therapists, both new and experienced, are intimidated by the neck, so feedback and questioning by the participants will help ensure that they are working safely and confidently, to their skill level. Overall, I am wishing for a very productive learning/revision day where participants have really enjoyed themselves.

Thanks for your time, Subhadra. Good chatting with you.

Are you interested in joining Subhadra’s workshop or attending the AMT AGM in Adelaide on Saturday 12 May 2018? Get more information and register here.

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  1. Gerhard Hassler
    19/04/2018 - 6:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing Subhadra 🙂

  2. Nice article, Keep up the good work. And I would like to be here again to find another masterpiece article. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good post Subhadra ! Good tips for massage therapists. I agree to taking care of yourself and getting more massages to balance you out . I love massages! ❤

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