KW writes: “I am a massage therapist in Colorado. I grew up Catholic, but have just in the last year or so started really reading and studying my faith. I became a massage therapist about a year ago, and really am just learning about all the new age stuff associated with massage (and there is a ton!!). I have read many of your blogs, and have found them very helpful. I do have a couple questions though. . . .
“I like to trade massages with fellow therapists at work, but have had a hard time finding one that does not practice any new age stuff, most of them believe in energy and chakras and stuff like that. I simply ask them not to do any of the energy work on me, and I pray for protection. Should I not be trading with these people because of what they believe? I also go to a chiropractor that does some NAET, but doesn’t use it with me as far as I can tell. He knows that I do not believe in it, but I don’t know if it is ok to continue to see him. I just don’t know if I would ever be able to find a therapist or chiropractor that does none of the new age stuff.
“Ok, so my second question is this… I was doing some chair massages at a preschool fundraiser the other day with a bunch of other venders. Part way through I realized that the lady next to me was offering taro card readings, and the entertainer for the evening was a hypnotist. I was really disapointed, but didn’t really know what to do. I stayed for the remainder of the evening, and will not participate next year. I just don’t really know how to respond to those things. If I leave every event that has new age things associated with it, I will never have work, but at the same time, I don’t want to put my time or money into something evil. Can you please help clear these issues up for me?”
To address your second question first, I always feel sadness in my heart when I get an e-mail like this from a legitimate, serious massage therapist who is looking for a way around the gigantic elephant that has taken over the living room of massage therapy in the form of New Age “energy workers.” I’ve heard from some therapists who have outright quit the business because they were so sick and tired of trying to steer around these charlatans who insist upon foisting unscientific methods upon an unsuspecting public.
KW, you may want to consider moving more into the field of sports and/or medical massage because these are closely regulated by legitimate organizations who are adamantly against the New Age quackery that is infiltrating the massage industry. The American Medical Massage Association is one of those organizations and I highly recommend that you consider joining it and taking advantage of its educational programs and possible networking opportunities. With the exception of hosting acupuncture training programs (a recent addition to their program, which quite frankly disappointed me), they don’t get involved in any kind of New Age “energy” work such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, etc. In fact, they issued a statement in 2005 condemning these practices as “pseudo-scientific.”
You should also avoid organizations such as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and other dubious licensing agencies that are flooding the market with their “energy workers.” This article by licensed MDs will give you a rundown on the problems with the AMTA and massage therapy in general.
As for NAET, this is total quackery and I would definitely find another chiropractor. Regardless of whether or not he/she uses it on you, any doctor who believes in this kind of garbage cannot be very astute in the field of medical science.
For those who don’t know what this is, NAET (Natural Allergy Elimination Technique) was developed by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad, a chiropractor/acupuncturist who has a medical degree from a university in Antiqua. Her overarching belief is that allergies can best be explained through the principles of Oriental medicine, such as the belief that allergies cause blockages in the body’s meridian energy pathways. She also employs the very New Age muscle testing/applied kinesiology to diagnose specific allergies, then treats them with a combination of spinal stimulation and acupressure.
In the meantime, you may want to skip trading massages with other practitioners unless you know them well enough to be sure they share your beliefs. Otherwise, why not try to become that lone voice in the wilderness who is pushing legitimate massage therapy for Christians who are not interested in energy work. A big banner on your website or business card that says “NO NEW AGE ENERGY WORK” might gain you more customers than you think.
Our Learn to Discern series has several booklets available on the subject of illicit massage therapies, such as Therapeutic Touch, and Reiki. Both booklets contain a chapter on Energy Medicine which is very informative!
Send your New Age question to firstname.lastname@example.org