Carrie Burnett is up to big things. Since graduating from The Healing Arts Center, she has started her own massage business, undertaken professional training towards receiving a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) certificate, is studying psychology at Webster University and has plans to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience. She has a passionate belief that the power of touch is not understood by science or therefore utilized to its fullest extent and has every intention of changing that through her current practice and future research.
Her massage practice in Shrewsbury has boomed. In fact, she reports that she is pretty much at capacity given her busy academic schedule, all happening while raising two kids. She identifies two things that have contributed to her success: that she had defined a clear and specific service - her niche, and she figured out what to spend her time doing to find clients.
She has found a very large niche in the nearly infinite field of massage therapy for a type of massage focused on the nervous system that is targeted at releasing the effects of trauma. She has been training the last two years at the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute and has about a year to go to complete her Somatic Experiencing Practitioner certification. But she is not stopping there.
She is a vibrant explosion of passion and energy for healing touch and has already become one of massage's strongest allies both culturally and politically. She told a story to the class about how difficult it was to set up a massage practice in Shrewsbury, given that municipality's antiquated massage-control laws. She emphasized the importance for massage business owners to get involved with municipal authorities to educate them as to the many community benefits of empowering therapeutic massage practitioners as a point of economic development.
Carrie has been developing her own massage process that she calls "Brain-Based Bodywork". This process uses neuroscience and massage to work with the nervous system to create new neural pathways that support positive responses. Previous to becoming a licensed massage therapist and Somatic Experiencing practitioner in training, she is a childbirth educator. She now incorporates all the training and experience to offer an array of services that complement each other. What started as an interest in combining massage and neuropsychology to avoid childbirth trauma has expanded to an interest in developing her Brain-Based Bodywork method to help people with other forms of trauma, too.
Carrie is a consummate networker. In fact, her entire business strategy depends on it. She sees the community of massage therapists as a massage collaborative and specifically rejects the notion that massage therapists compete with each other.
Upon this realization, she begun setting up meetings for coffee and lunches with psychologists and therapists - partly to explain what services she offers and the complementary benefits for their clients. From those meetings, Carrie began to get more referrals. The same thing happened with other massage therapists. The openness of seeing other therapists as allies instead of competition allowed her to make friends and benefit from referring clients, since they all worked in different niches of massage therapy.
Another vital part of Carrie's approach to running her own business is a social media presence. She urged the students in the business class at HAC, that even if they don't like social media, it is the place where people are, and essential to getting known as a small business. She had so much good advice and encouragement, especially about having a mindset of always learning. She recommended using Pinterest to find blogs about running a business and best practices for social media. It's not just about posting on social media, but also about following and interacting with other people - clients and fellow business owners.
Instagram is great for discovering other small businesses to follow. Instagram hashtags i.e. #massage #selfcare #relax, are essential to success on that platform, as they link you to the algorithm so people can find you. She says Instagram is great for posting daily. Facebook is another important platform - although she recommends not posting more than 3 times a week because of how people use Facebook and how that algorithm works. People want to get to know what your business offers as well as get to know you more personally, too. Carrie uses a mixture of content to communicate who she is and what she does.
Self-care is not a luxury for busy people. Carrie said that she is only able to be so busy because she prioritizes self-care. She is always using what she learned at the Healing Arts Center to stay grounded, free, and energized to run her business, be a full-time student, and raise her family. There was a time when she let being busy keep her from practicing self-care and it resulted in a loss of business and more stress. Since making self-care a priority, it has become second nature to her. After a particularly emotionally-heavy training session, a thought popped into her head that a salt bath would really help. It left her cleansed of the stresses of that day and ready to take on the next day. She credits what she learned at the HAC with giving her the tools to manage her well-being in this way. Students at the Healing Arts Center learn several methods to manage well-being, including Pranic self-care and salt baths, Reiki, Breathwork, among other techniques.
When she completes her PhD. in neuroscience, she intends establish a body of scientific studies to document the specific effects that massage has on clients and create a road map as to how massage can be used as a tool inside an advanced form of psychotherapy, in conjunction and partnership with other medical treatments. It is a well-known problem in the massage arts and sciences that massage has not been adequately studied by the formal academic process even though massage practitioners repeatedly see important medical outcomes nearly every day.
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