Our member spotlight today is fellow Michigander Michelle Doetsch of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Q: What inspired you to be a massage therapist?
A: Like many others, it was as much about my own healing journey as it was helping others. I’d wanted to work in healthcare for as long as I can remember, but for many reasons I didn’t get the physical therapy degree I’d went to college for. I graduated with a biology degree instead and then worked for 10 very stressful years as a chemist before making a mid-life career change. When I began massage school I was a stressed out mess with a whole host of chronic pain conditions and autoimmune diseases. I began researching complementary medical careers because allopathic medicine had lost it’s appeal to me. Massage therapy seemed the most promising career choice in which I’d be able to not only help myself but help others as well. Now, as a result of all the stress management and self-care techniques I’ve studied and put into practice, all of those pain conditions and autoimmune diseases are resolved and I deal with stress more effectively than I ever have.
Q: How long have you been doing massage?
A: 13 years
Q: What is your favorite thing about being an MT?
A: Watching each client’s healing journey unfold. I love that "a-ha moment" when they finally make the connection between their high stress level and the amount of pain they have and actively begin making new choices regarding stress management, pain management, and self-care.
Q: What do you feel is the most challenging issue for massage therapists?
A: I think our biggest challenge is walking the fine line between maintaining our professionalism and being authentic and honest enough with our clients to build trust. We need to be “the experts” but also reveal some of our weaknesses and struggles so that our clients can relate to us. It’s only when they can relate to us as someone who’s been where they are, or who still has occasional struggles with some of the things they struggle with, that they will fully trust us.
Q: What advice would you give to other MT’s to help build their business?
A: Make friends with people who’ve started and run successful businesses and make sure that at least one (but not all) of them has run a successful service based business - it doesn’t necessarily have to be massage based. Meet on some sort of a regular basis to talk about your current business goals and any problems you’re currently having. The perspective you’ll get from those outside of massage or complementary medicine is invaluable; they’ll help you think outside the box, and that will help set you apart from all the other massage therapists in your area.