Your answer was off base!

May 5th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question #1:

“I have been receiving your newsletter and watching you on Glenn Beck and listening to your radio Podcasts for quite a while now. I respect you greatly and think that you have a lot of wisdom, however, I was very dismayed at your answer to the young 17-year-old aspiring massage therapist. I’m a massage therapist myself and there are countless ways that you can go into the profession. There are many ways that you can serve in a medical setting rather than in a spa setting. Spa massage IS a luxury and has much less therapeutic value.

My practice is focused on pain management and relief. There are many people suffering from pain that only need the skilled touch of a massage therapist to relieve their pain. I have many clients that had exhausted all possibilities of pain relief and had given up hope of ever leading a pain-free life. I have prevented patients from possible debilitating surgeries or coming out of pocket to have an MRI performed. Many seeking a doctor’s care for their pain have come out of it either worse off because of an unsuccessful surgery or addicted to pain killers. I make pretty good money, but that’s not the main reason that I do what I do. I derive great satisfaction out of facilitation of healing and relieving debilitating pain. I could go on for pages about how our profession is maligned and impugned and how people’s perception of this should be changed not encouraged. I could also say that there are many medical settings where massage is utilized to great monetary advantage.

There are teaching opportunities and other avenues that can bring great wealth. I know some therapists who have large clinics that make them six figure salaries. If this young man is interested in therapy why discourage him? He may be a great healer. He may through experience discover a great massage technique that will help millions with their pain. I think if you give these answers to people that may dissuade them from their chosen profession and have already spent a great deal of money on training it does them and others a great disservice. You also stated that it doesn’t take a great deal of training or knowledge. You stated,”Furthermore, it requires very little in the way of training and preparation which means barriers to entry are very low. This means you will always be competing with others willing to earn much less than your ambitions might seek. At your age, why not invest some time in acquiring more valuable skills and qualifications?” I take issue with this statement. Are you a therapist? Have you been through the training and aware of what it takes? It can take a great toll on your body if you don’t use proper techniques and if you don’t have a thorough knowledge of anatomy you can do great damage to your client. That is why we are required to have a license and insurance. Not to mention that the training can be costly. Tuition is up to $15,000 in many states. As for competing against those that would charge less it has been my experience that those who charge less are less talented and have no belief in their competency. And people aren’t stupid they know a good therapist when they come across one and are willing to pay for it.

If you are going to give advice that may change the course of a person’s life you should be more knowledgeable and do more research on the subject. Perhaps talk to someone actually in the profession.”

Respectfully, 

Linda W.

Question #2:

This is less of a question and more of a statement. I found your advice on the person asking about massage therapy as a career to be out of your scope. You made many assumptions in your response that it occurred to me that perhaps you would be better serving your database of subscribers if you stick to the topic you are an expert in, and that is of rabbinical matters. I’m speaking as a former massage therapist who had a successful lucrative career for 20+ years able to serve my family of 3 very well in a city that has a high cost of living. 

My wife and I eventually opened up a clinic and hired other therapists, all of whom make over $70k a year, and now manage the clinic. We got to spend a lot of time with our young children as they grew up and that was very valuable to us. Massage Therapy is commonly stereotypes as a feel good profession and one that sometimes carries dubious “spa” like stereotypes as well (rub and tugs). But a well trained massage therapist can work with chronic and acute pain and bring non-drug pain relief, legitimate non-drug pain relief to people who need it, not to mention to people who suffer from all sorts of stress related ailments that are on the rise in today’s world. Don’t assume all massage therapists are hippie like and work in spa’s and rub people’s feet or temples till they fall asleep. I’ve worked hard to fight that stereotype all my life, and am proud to say that I worked and succeeded in my profession and was able to help many people who did not get relief from conventional therapies and drugs.

Thank you for your time,

James

Answer:

Dear Linda and James,

We hope you don’t mind us writing to you both together. First, a bit of background for other readers: On March 28, 2016 we responded to a question from 17 year-old Riley asking for our views about him making a career out of massage.  You were both upset by our answer and took the time to write, which we appreciate. Neither of you referred to the part of our answer, which was why Riley wrote in the first place, about  the possible damage from a male massage therapist interacting with female clients, so we will leave that aside.

You both disagreed vehemently with our assessment that as an ambitious young man Riley explore other career options with higher barriers to entry. As successful professional massage therapists who have achieved prominence and success in your chosen profession, you felt that our economic reasoning was wrong. We went back and checked the numbers and still feel that they support the idea that the vast majority of those who choose careers in bookkeeping, plumbing, programming, or in other similar “harder-to-enter” fields make vastly more money down the road than the majority of those who select massage. The more time, energy, money or effort it takes to enter a field, the more lucrative and secure that field is likely to be.  We don’t dispute that some massage therapists spend $15,000 becoming accredited just as we know you won’t dispute that large numbers of people enter the field of massage with considerably less investment. In addition, the ‘quitting the field’ rate within ten years of masseuses is higher than many other fields.

James, you and your wife worked hard to eventually own a clinic and employ others. Entrepreneurial spirit and the desire and skills needed to run a business definitely have the potential to transform any interest into a larger entity and we were remiss for not having suggested that option. Specializing in medical massage and taking advanced courses focusing on that area, as both of you, James and Linda, did is also a variation that presents a different picture. In effect, if we may say so, massage therapy was the entry floor for you, not the end result.

We hope that Riley will take your responses as well as ours into account and have a clearer picture of the questions he should be asking himself as he considers a career path.

Cordially,

Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin

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