Thursday, September 29, 2016

I have moved!

Please come join me at my new home for my blog: Susan Salvo's Massage Passport.

This blog will no longer be maintained or updated.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Makes Teachers Great!

What is the most important element of effective teaching? What comes to mind as you ponder this question? I've been thinking about this question for 30 years and have come to realize that the answer is relationships!

Relationships play a central role in the educational experience. Relationships between teachers and their students. Relationships between students and their classmates. Relationships between students and lesson content. Relationships between lesson content and real life.

Some say that relationships in education are not important, that it distracts from learning. But Cristina Nehring says in her article Higher Yearning that, “to say that relationship distracts from learning is like saying color distracts from seeing.” Relationships energize classrooms, breathe life into lessons, and deepen the learning experience. Relationships create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging.

Relationships are the heart of our massage family and it all began with a teacher. I want to talk a little about our massage family because I love to talk…  about family.

Our massage family is made up of a large diverse group of people. We have no dress code, no secret handshake, no special chant. We are one big family of many hands and one shared love – the love of people – the love of humanity. And we express that love with massage therapy. Coming to conventions is like going to family reunions. One of the many reasons I support organizations such as AMTA and the Alliance is because they use a family model as part of their business philosophy.

It does not matter if you do Swedish massage, sports massage, shiatsu, or reiki; all methods have the same shared goal — to help people feel better. To make the inaccessible “accessible.”

My massage parents were my first teachers. They are dear to my heart and are Patricia, Donald, Carol, Robert, and Charles. It was through them that I fell in love with massage therapy and fell in love with learning. When I stand front of a class, I feel their presence. Their words come right out of my mouth. Their blood runs through my veins.

Good afternoon and welcome to the most important day of the conference. Why? Because everyone is here because of a teacher. Today we honor teachers and celebrate the roles they have had in our lives.

I want to thank the AMTA School Awards Committee for making the day possible and for recognizing outstanding teachers. This committee is made up of 4 members and includes Cindy Fararr, Adrienne Asta, Linda Toomey, and Kate Zulaski.

Congratulations Tracie Livermore for your dedication to massage education and your for love of teaching. And thank you to the previous award winners. [APPLAUSE]

Massage is my family, I had wonderful massage parents. Truth be told… I was their difficult child.

I struggled with homework and deadlines, stayed up late caring for a young child instead of studying — yes, I was a single parent.

I struggled with tests. I had holes in my educational background — yes I was a high school dropout. I sat in that classroom and thought “I am the dumbest person in this room.” Thank goodness I had loving massage parents who saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. They valued relationships. I was able to graduate only because they let me do “extra credit” work because I was failing anatomy.

Several years after graduation, I was homesick. I missed my massage parents and decided to surround myself with new family and started to teach. Teaching took me on a wonderful magical journey. This is where I married Mike Breaux, the most amazing man I ever met. It was also this time I met my massage sister Carrie Chaumont and her husband Alex. It was Carrie and Alex who nominated me for this award. Thank you Michael, Carrie, and Alex for your love, friendship, and for taking massage therapy and massage education into the future. I love you guys!

There is no better feeling than being with family. In the tradition of family gatherings, I’m going to tell you a family secret – I mean family recipe. How to make a great teacher.

Because if you want a great education, you must have great teachers.

The first ingredient is "Connection." This brings us back to the relationships.

We know that making a connection with students provides the best possible learning environment.

Listen to students – really listen. Not just to their words but to the meaning behind their words.

Because if you want to access their minds you must first access their hearts.

Parker Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach, talks about listening or “hearing people to speech.” Students want to find their voices, to speak their voices, to have their voices heard. A good teacher listens to those voices even before they are spoken—so that someday they can speak with truth and with confidence.

We must also be willing to take risks, to be vulnerable, and to share our own stories. Sharing is how we make connections. I know there is talk about not getting too close to students. But the reality is, this is how we change the world - by making connections. Dianne Polseno knew this. Dianne said “We are changing the world, one massage at a time.” Massage therapy is about making connections.

Connection is not enough, you must have a lesson plan. We know from research that when given a choice, students prefer structured lessons. Your lesson plans are the framework for the information you give them. Part of effective teaching is being organized.

I was trying to think of a “family member” equivalent or the kind of teacher I mean. Then it came to me, it’s a “grandparent.”

Think about the role of grandparents. My Grandmother always had a plan, she let me explore her home and yard, and I discovered something new each time I was with her. She let me ask tons of questions and made time to answer them, she told stories, she accepted me for who I was, but did not put up with a lot of shenanigans. She kept her finger in the water – testing it. She knew when to push the accelerator and when to tap the brakes.

Being organized and having a lesson plan is not enough – you must also be passionate.

Passion for teaching and learning must be evident to students. Learning is about heading out into the unknown with a sense of reckless abandon and wanderlust. Effective teachers cultivate students who are passionately curious and don’t mind having their preconceptions nudged. Give them an insatiable curiosity so that, after they leave your classroom, they will never want to stop learning.

Be an instigator. Effective teachers are instigators of the highest order.

Passion has a side effect. It’s inspiration. It’s the final ingredient. This is the icing on the cake.

Connected, organized, and passionate teachers inspire students.

We are there to say, “I believe in you!” 

We are there to say, “Yes you can!”

“I can’t learn all these muscles and bones.”

Yes you can!

“I can’t pass this test.”

Yes you can!

We represent possibility. We make the inaccessible – accessible!

Believe in students and in their ability to think for themselves.

Be connected, organized, passionate, and inspiring.

Take care of yourself, embrace spirituality, and see the potential in every student.

We shape the future of massage therapy. We are in the trenches with students giving them knowledge and skills. Initiating them into the family circle. We are the “change agent.” We are teaching therapists to change the world, one massage at a time. Thank you, Dianne.

Susan Salvo's Acceptance Speech for the Dianne Polseno Lifetime Achievement Award for educational excellence given during the teacher's luncheon at the AMTA National Convention 2014 in Denver, CO.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stress Reducing Tips For Massage Students


Being a student brings a certain amount of stress that cannot be avoided. School is a constant balancing act of a full life against academic responsibilities. Below are 60 suggestions to reduce stress and develop a habit of daily relaxation.

1)      Breathe using deep abdominal breathing not shallow chest breathing. Expand your abdomen as you breathe in through your nose, hold a few seconds, and then release the breath out through your mouth.  Pause a few seconds before the next inhalation.
2)      Maintain a balanced nutritious diet. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains.  Choose lean meat and fish. 
3)      Limit the intake of salt, refined sugar, and alcohol.
4)      Exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes.  Be sure to include weight lifting as part of the regime. Exercise will help you forget about stressful events that occurred during the day.
5)      Stretch often and regularly. Stretching reduces loosens stiff and tense muscles as well as increases blood flow. Stretching also decreases stress and anxiety.
6)      Get sufficient rest. When you are well rested, you are better able to perform your best and deal with stressful situations. Be sure to get 7-8 hours of sound sleep each night.
7)      Drink water daily, at least ½ ounce per 1 pound of body weight per day.  If you become dehydrated, you may feel lethargic and low in energy, and hence more susceptible to stress.
8)      Start the day with 10-15 minutes of morning meditation or just quiet time.  Schedule stress breaks of at least 15 minutes to relax, especially on crowded days.  Breathe slowly and deeply while allowing your body and mind to rest in a comfortable position. 
9)      Laugh often.  Surround yourself with positive, happy people.  Go to a comedy club.  Tell stories with friends.  Watch a Monty Python or Marx Brothers movie. 
10)  Know and be able to identify stress triggers. Once you know the source of stress, you can develop strategies, such as slow deep breathing, for stress management when confronted with these triggers.
11)  Adopt Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer as one of your personal philosophies: “God (or your personal higher power), grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
12)  Seek professional help when needed. If stress becomes too overwhelming, spend time with a mental health or pastoral counselor.  Counselors can assist you with strategies for better coping with stress.
13)  Try using positive visualization or guided imagery.  Think about a time or place when you felt relaxed and contented. As you visualize the calm setting, recalling sights, sound, and even scents.  These can help produce relaxation.
14)  Combine deep breathing with positive visualization or guided imagery.  Combining these two stress reduction techniques is very effective in enhancing relaxation.
15)  Regard each day as a blessing.  Also realize that life if a mixture of experiences some pleasant and some unpleasant.  Learn and grow from the later.
16)  Try progressive relaxation, which involves systematically tensing and releasing various muscle groups in an orderly sequence (from the face downward for from the feet upward).  This will help induce relaxed and help you recognize the onset of muscle tension.
17)  Monitor and control your spending. Financial difficulties increase stress. In essence, spend less than you bring in. If you need help seek expert commission-free financial advice.
18)  Maintain a positive attitude. It is best to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Look at challenges as opportunity for grow.
19)  Learn Tai Chi or Yoga.  These activities are excellent for reducing stress by quieting the mind and promoting full deep breathing.
20)  Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Minimize contact with those who are negative.
21)  Talk to friends and family members. While they are not mental health counselors, talking to them gives you an opportunity to express feelings and share ideas.
22)  Participate in community worship services. Regular visits to a place of worship are a great way to connect with others and enhance spiritual and emotional health while managing stress.
23)  Help others less fortunate than yourself. Ironically, this not only benefits others, but also provides an opportunity to focus on concerns other than your own.
24)  Take a course or workshop. It does not have to focus on stress or time management.  Learn about something you are interested in such as history or photography.
25)  Smile when you feel stressed. Research indicates that smiling rather than frowning can help you feel happier, lowers your heart rate, and decreases respiration rate.
26)  Set achievable goals. A goal will help focus your thoughts and actions on areas you feel are important. When these goals are achieved, you feel a sense of accomplishment, which can reduce stress.
27)  Avoid over-committing yourself and start saying No to things that do not support your goals or priorities.
28)  Begin accepting responsibility for your decision, those that brought you to where you are in life. With this attitude, you are no longer a victim and rather become an empowered individual and problem solver.
29)  Read self improvement books. These books, which are usually written by world-renown authors, contain insights into many facets of life related to stress management.
30)  Visit self improvement websites. Like books, these websites contain a lot of useful material related to stress management. Unlike books, they also can contain telecommunications such as podcasts or blogs.
31)  Keep a journal.  Use it daily to explore your thoughts and feelings. Journaling reduces stress by taking internal process, committing them to paper, and then reflecting or clarifying them.
32)  Take a hike (or just a leisurely stroll). This not only reduces stress but is a great form of exercise. In fact, make walking a daily activity.
33)  Why worry when you can pray!  If you believe in God, pray and pray often. Don’t just pray for help, but tell God (or your higher power) what about your day and how it made you feel. Talking to the all powerful and merciful is a great form of stress relief. 
34)  Listen to enjoyable music. Music has the ability to alter mood and relieve stress. 
35)  Drink herbal tea. Different herbs, such as chamomile, are known for their soothing effects.
36)  Ask people you admire (such as your instructors) how they cope with stress.  Look around and note people who remain composed under pressure. Adopt some of their stress reducing strategies.
37)  Develop a relaxed attitude and sense of appreciation and gratitude towards work and relationships. 
38)  Practice reverie.  At the end of each day, spend time in reflection. Review the interactions you had with people. If a situation generates stress, replay it over and over again until it becomes mundane.  Then see the situation again with a new scenario, while vowing to behave more appropriately in the future.
39)  Enjoy more leisure time.  Write down 10 things you like to do, cut out these 10 items, and place them in a small bag or box.  When you are feeling stressed, reach in and select one.  Read the thing you enjoy and do it!
40)  Develop a hobby. Becoming immersed in an enjoyable and interesting activity is a great form of stress relief. 
41)  Take up indoor or outdoor gardening. Gardening is a great form of physical activity and it teaches important lessons of cause and effect.  Research indicates that being in a garden, even viewing a garden, relieves stress.
42)  Sing. Yes, singing can be a fun and liberating form of stress relief. Sing loudly when possible. You don’t need to be on key, just enjoy yourself.  PS – Students love when instructors begin lecturing in opera.
43)  Look for opportunity while being an optimist. “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist, the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ L. P. Jacks
44)  Develop negotiation skills, creating a win-win in every situation.  This not only helps resolve stressful situations and conflicts, but also promotes confidence and assertiveness. Such skills will help create more satisfying relationships.
45)  Laugh often. Laughter is a wonderful stress management tool. It promotes deep breathing, reduces muscular tension, and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. 
46)  Delegate tasks you do not like to do.  This helps to manage your workload, increases your effectiveness, and enhances your own enjoyment.
47)  Know and respect your limits. Don’t try to fit too much into a day and avoid over committing yourself to the point of break down.
48)  Take frequent holidays or vacations.  This gives you an opportunity to recharge your batteries, reconnect with yourself, have fun, and prevent burn out.
49)  Squeeze a stress ball.  By simply squeezing the ball over and over, you tense the muscles in your arms. After releasing, your muscles will become quite relaxed, and the stress will slowly go away. Because stress balls are small you can take one with you wherever you go.  You can make one by filling a deflated balloon with 1/3 to ½ cup of cornstarch.
50)  Honor your emotions by expressing them appropriately.  Keep a journal, see a counselor, or join a peer support group.
51)  Indulge yourself.  “You know, sometimes you do something for no reason at all,” says Tom Hanks as Forest Gump. Self-Indulgence and pampering oneself are nurturing, frivolous, and direction-less activities we do for ourselves. Pampering just plain feels good and is more akin to play.  Here are a few self-indulgent confessions, I mean suggestions: finger-painting, eating outdoors, comfortable lounge wear, and going to the movies and watch two or three feature films, back-to-back, while eating more than your share of Snowcaps.
52)  Play games.  Yes, playing card or board games can reduce stress. Games that involve more than several players such as Twister or Pictionary encourage playful interaction with others.
53)  Stimulate yourself intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally on a regular basis. Go to art galleries, museums, worship services, and concerts. Read a novel, write poetry, or see a foreign film. Talk about religion and politics with someone who has differing philosophies.
54)  Go to a stage production.  This can a ballet, opera, or show from Broadway.  If it is a musical, locate the soundtrack and learn a few songs.  Sing them loudly when you are stressed out. 
55)  Avoid chemical aids.  If you have a problem with recreational drugs or alcohol, see help from a substance abuse counselor.  Oftentimes, substance abuse is linked to stress and learning stress reduction techniques is an important part of therapy.
56)  Simplify meals.
57)  Eat a meal by candlelight.
58)  Avoid all forms of tobacco.
59)  Write a faraway friend.
60)  Get a massage.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Clients & Seizures ~ First Aid Measures


If your client appears to be having a seizure (tonic-clonic seizure) , follow these basic first-aid measures. Your client is more likely to have a seizure if he or she has stopped taking prescribed seizure medications. Remember that every situation will be different.
  1. Remain calm, and begin to time the seizure.
  2. Clear the area of objects (if possible).
  3. Gently place the person on the floor (if possible).
  4. Place a cushion or soft material, such as a jacket, under the person’s head. Lift the chin slightly to open the airway.
  5. If the person is choking or vomiting, roll him or her onto the side.
  6. Remain with the person until the seizure has ended.
  7. After a seizure (postictal phase), several things can be expected to happen. The person may be groggy or feel very tired. The person could be confused, disoriented, or even embarrassed. The person may also complain of a headache or general soreness.

  • If this is your client's first seizure or if you don't know if they have had a seizure before
  • If you know they have had a seizure and it lasts more than 5 minutes or immediately repeats
  • If your client is injured or vomits and is choking
It is recommended to document the event (in an incident report) and place it in the client’s folder.
Memo: Consider keeping a mobile phone in the massage room set to airplane mode. This setting disables the device's transmitting functions so incoming calls or texts will not interrupt the massage. In many cases, 911 calls can still be placed; if not, turn off airplane mode and place the 911 call.

Video  Resources: 

Seizure First Aid
After The Seizure