A Review of the 2021 AMT Virtual Conference

As Experienced By Sharon Livingstone

I’ve been juggling 3 jobs this morning. Laundering yesterday’s mountain of towels, proofreading an enormous document that was due last week and not forgetting to log into the AMT conference. Sounds like a typical day.

By some miracle, I queue at the conference door 5 minutes ahead of the start time and have even managed to prepare a cool drink. I’ve finished the drink before the Cat in the Hat kicks off the Dr Seuss themed conference.

It’s not really a cat. It’s AMT Chairperson, Subhadra Gerard in a very tall stripey hat. Subhi acknowledges the First Nations people of the land he’s on and that the rest of us are on across Australia.

It’s been a tough year for many AMT members, Subhi says with a tip of his hat to AMT’s darn tough Victorian members, and NSW and ACT members who’ve endured over the last 4 months. Subhi points out that every presenter at the conference today is an AMT member. Wow! What a great reminder of how talented the membership is.

Subhi wraps up his welcome address by thanking AMT Head Office staff who have organised the conference and hands over to CEO Rebecca Barnett, wearing some gorgeous hair accessories, who gives us instructions on how to ask questions during the presentations. Mostly, we get this right.

Dan Wonnocott

During Dan’s presentation, I asked how we could bottle him and for good reason. His session today is “Adding Value: planning, timing, intention and execution for manual therapists”. It’s a gentle reminder for experienced therapists and a good lesson for new graduates on how to plan a treatment session and formulate a treatment plan. Dan suggests we need to move away from our focus on techniques and focus instead on “why” people are having massage.

My eyes dart over to the comments from delegates that are flying up my screen. Lots of head nodding and positivity. Dan’s dropping truth bombs and we’re grabbing them.

Be realistic, supportive and honest with clients, says Dan. I really needed this reminder today.

I notice a comment coming through that highlights another Wonnocott pearl:

“… Give them things to focus on after the session and give them indications of what might be obstacles or roadblocks before their next session… help them prepare for that…” Great advice, thanks.

Blimey, it’s over already? I could have listened for another hour. I wonder if Dan is my spirit animal?

Want to know a little bit more about what Dan’s talk discussed? He put it into an article on AMT’s blog, which you can read here: Adding Value

Subhi is back and says his favourite line is “the massage therapist drives the bus and the client shows them the way”.

My favourite is: “It gets shat on a lot … (there’s a sentiment that) if you’re not being technical, you’re not being remedial.”

Meet Youjung Suh

AMT Board member, Jo Cotterall, resplendent in her own Cat in the Hat hat introduces us to new Board member, YouJung Suh, who is not in costume. WAIT!! WHAT?? The person who skydived wearing a bumblebee onesie is not in a costume? Outrageous. While I’m perplexed, Jo gets Youjung onto her favourite topic – movies. Youjung explains how watching a documentary encouraged her to buy a mushroom growing kit, which has already seen an oyster mushroom shoot up. Fascinating woman.

Read more about Youjung here.

Exercise and Snack

Speaking of fascinating women, Sheree Bright appears and guides our stiff joints and achy muscles through some seated yoga moves. From the comments, people are getting great benefit from it.

For a few minutes, I think we’re getting an insight into Subhi’s YouTube viewing habits but no, it’s a cartoon to entertain us while we snack on our favourite conference treats. I use the time to run out to the clothesline to check on the mountain of towels flapping in the breeze but I get distracted by my neighbour, who tells me she’s pregnant. I leave her to climb the stairs while I run outside to the towels. I have to boil the kettle and make my tea as Egan Magee is being introduced. I had ONE job!

Egan Magee

Egan Magee should have been gifted a 90 minute session. Their session is on “Trauma informed practice with transgender and gender diverse clients: building literacy for better care”. Egan runs us through some common terminology to describe gender then what trauma means.

Egan reminds us to look at our personal biases and asks us how we practice inclusivity. They suggest some reflexive practice for us all to do. This involves asking ourselves a series of questions.

The comments reflect a willingness for MTs to learn more.

Like Dan’s session, Egan reminds us to let our clients determine their care. They also remind us to have good communication with clients and that trust is built up.

Apparently, binge watching Sex Education has been good prep for Egan’s session. But it hasn’t made me an expert.

Egan says it’s not enough for massage therapists to say “I treat everyone the same” because it probably isn’t as true as we think it is. I keep coming back to Egan’s earlier comment about knowing our personal biases. What is conscious bias and what is unconscious bias? I have some reflection and reflexion to do.

Egan is sharing a lot of knowledge – they’re like a chilled champagne that the cork has been removed from – and we’re lapping it up. There is a good case for Egan to run a series of workshops. 40 minutes was nowhere near enough time for such a great speaker on a very important topic for massage therapists.

We have more work to do.

Meet Jess Gawne

AMT Board member (and former Chairperson) Michelle McKerron introduces us to new Board member, Jess Gawne. Jess is based in Chinchilla, rural Queensland and likes to educate her clients on self-treatment and self-reliance, reminding us that massage therapists don’t fix, we facilitate. Jess joined the AMT Board this year and reckons she’s the light relief. More importantly, Jess hopes to lead the End of the Ice Age in recovery, i.e. no more RICE!

Jess’s 6 year old wishes to express to AMT members her desire for Mum to wrap up her presentation early. I particularly like her curtain dance. Cute kid, Jess.

Jess speaks about how being an AMT member has helped her with isolation, given her remote location. AMT has made it easy to access other people, including CEO Beck.

OK, 6 year old, you can have Mum’s attention now.

Read more about Jess here.

Jenny Richardson

Jenny Richardson has been working hard on her Honours thesis and is about to hand it in. Today, she’s discussing “What is effective in massage therapy? Well, it depends”.

Remember Jenny’s presentation on what questions should we be asking in massage research at the AMT 2018 conference? Watch it here.

Jenny takes us through her research question and how she went about finding the answer(s). A spoiler – a lot of the time, massage therapists answered Jenny’s questions with “It depends”. That sounds familiar to me – I say that in answer to questions from my clients a lot.

Jenny noticed quite a few themes during her research, including “Everyone is different, every client is different, every therapist is different … so every treatment is different.” Yes, that sounds familiar too.

Hmm, I’m noticing a theme today too. Massage therapy is a client focused therapy.

Jenny’s final hypothesis was spot on, I reckon.

Tim Clark

Tim Clark leads us through some mindfulness techniques that we may be able to teach our clients. Tim tells us to test them out today to decide what works best for us. They’re from the Black Dog Institute. My favourite is the first one. SQUEEZE!

Lisa Fiddes

We come back from lunch to some more yoga moves with Sheree. Perfect way to wind ourselves back into conference mode.

AMT Board member Kristy Baird has taken over the hosting role for the afternoon session. Kristy begins by introducing Lisa Fiddes, who asks, “Are you ready for the pain?” – or really, to discuss the results of the Technical Advisory Committee into the massage training package. It looks like we’re going to ditch the massage myths. Phew! We’re going to see new massage therapists learning facts. There’ll be neuroscience and pain science modules. Fabulous update on the new educational requirements.

And we’re back on today’s theme – focus on working with the client, not on the client.

Meet Ian Lim

Jo Cotterall introduces us to new Board member, Ian Lim. He starts by saying that Lisa was one of his teachers. Small world! Ian wants to change the discussion around clients being told that they can no longer do stuff – ban the negativity and doom and gloom! Ian used to be a pilot and a keen climber and hopes to conquer Everest, maybe with his kids in tow.

And with that, I head to the break room to make a coffee. I’m really into the moka pot coffee at the moment – making it is a bit of a meditation.

Learn more about Ian here.

Yoga with Sheree

My efforts to use my massage table in new and interesting ways is interrupted by a phone call from my client looking for feedback on the massive document I’ve finished proofreading during my lunchbreak. I keep watching Sheree on my screen though, which is kinda like doing the stretches, yes?

Sarah Fogarty

We all love an interactive session. Dr Sarah has popped in to share the preliminary findings from the Impact of COVID-19 on the Professional Identity of Australian Massage Therapists survey. A few things surprised me. Dr Sarah says that the paper has been accepted for publication. Yay! Dr Sarah says “Our industry needs to embrace what it does”. There’s more to the research than just the survey, with interviews to be conducted with massage therapists at a later date.

Meet Katherine Potter

Michelle McKerron introduces us to Thing 1 – I mean, new Board member, Katherine Potter. Katherine has dyed her hair blue for the occasion. It may be a wig. Katherine shares her journey to be a massage therapist and why she moved to South Australia – hint: Katherine loves her Mum.

Learn more about Katherine here.

That’s a Wrap!

Subhi is back to tell us that we’ll meet in person next year. There’s a standing ovation for CEO Rebecca Barnett and her amazing, sterling, brilliant, thank all the gods and non-gods, efforts on the Biosecurity Committee and producing all the documents that allowed AMT members to return to work safely and to work in a COVID safe way. My hands are sore after all that clapping.

I grab my laundry basket to fetch in the mountain of towels, fold them and put them away.

See you next year!

Share this post:
5 Tips For Re-Opening
Change Isn’t as Good as a Holiday But it’s Still Good

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *