A Portrait of the Artist as a … Therapist?

By Aran Bright

Now, more than ever, we need to respect scientific research. We live in an environment where the very air we breathe can be dangerous. To help navigate life, we have science to guide us, at least when it comes to virus transmission. But science can never tell us how we should live our lives. And science can’t really tell us what we will find beautiful. To find the things in life that really matter to us, we need art.

The art in touch-based care is helping another human in some way through our touch. We will have lots of explanations for why massage helps or why this method of adjustment will trigger some change. Many explanations will be wrong, a few will have some truth to them. But is the essential element in care that you are right?

Science is a Tool

Science is the best method we have to understand complex issues that affect many people. Rigorous careful study of phenomena is that only we can hope to improve in care of other human beings. On one level, it’s a no brainer.

Science in the field of care with manual therapies, exercise and pain management has developed a lot in recent years and it is the responsibility of every therapist to do their best when it comes to understanding science, particularly in areas related to pain.

Art Is the Energy to Power Those Tools

Attempts to compare therapists with therapists

To provide the highest quality of care, you have to be inspired as a therapist. You really do have to be dedicated to mastering what you do, in your own personal way. I am happy to say I have never met two therapists who work exactly the same. Perhaps that means there are an infinite number of ways you can develop as a therapist?

Let’s face it, sometimes life sucks. It’s all shit, and yet at the same time, there is incredible beauty. Finding something that is truly worthwhile is the goal of art. As therapists, most of us hope to inspire people. For them to have real meaningful change in their life, we need a craft, a vehicle, to take a client through a process of healing.

The Balance

It is entirely likely that true balance is not ever possible, which may explain why so many humans are in disagreement on so many things. But striking a balance between these two opposing philosophies is something we must attempt as healthcare therapists. Especially now, where infection control really matters.

It may well be that science is best to provide a fundamental understanding of what we do, hopefully a common language to help discussion and understanding in massage and healthcare. But we need to link the knowledge science brings with the lived experience of helping people all whilst communicating effectively with your client.

Finding the balance between these opposing forces is your mission. Will you choose to accept it?

About the Author

Aran Bright – artist’s impression

Aran Bright started his career as a massage therapist in 2002 after graduating from the Australian College of Natural Medicine in Queensland. In 2006, Aran completed his Diploma of Remedial Massage and, in 2007, his Bachelor of Health Science in Musculoskeletal Therapy. Aran graduated from University of Queensland with a Graduate Certificate of Sports Coaching, completed a Certificate IV in Fitness and an Advanced Diploma of Myotherapy. He currently runs his own businesses, Bright Health Training and Brisbane Workplace Massage, with his wife, Sheree.

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