Workshop on Massage Therapy, Research and Integrative Medicine returns to BTI

June 20th, 2015

duke-im-signBTI is excited to again collaborate with leading clinicians and researchers from Duke Integrative Medicine to help members of the massage therapy community gain the knowledge and skills to participate in research and to collaborate with other health care providers in interdisciplinary settings.

On Friday, July 24, you’ll have the opportunity to join Adam Perlman, MD, MPH, Teresa Keever, RN and Kim Turk, LMBT for a one-day intensive introduction to the world of research as it applies to the field of massage therapy. Learn how a world-class integrative medicine center is organized, and how massage therapy has been incorporated into their holistic model of patient care.

perlman_adamDr. Perlman is a strong advocate of massage therapy, and is the recipient of a grant funded by the National Institute of Health to continue his research on massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. This NIH study, the largest one of its kind being funded the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, is entitled EMBARK: Exploring Massage Benefits in Arthritis of the Knee. It seeks to assess the value of Swedish massage in decreasing pain and improving function for adults with osteoarthritis of the knee.

This workshop will give you:

  • Awareness of the role Integrative Medicine is playing in our evolving healthcare system
  • An understanding of the structure, purpose and basic terminology of a research study
  • Protocols for how to work within a research team to ensure consistent methodology and usable results
  • Strategies for collaborating with doctors and other health care providers in a wide range of treatment environments

NOTE: This workshop meets the research education requirement for renewal of the NCBTMB Board Certification credential.

Click here for the complete workshop description and presenter bios.

Click here to register!

Oncology Massage Training returns to BTI

March 7th, 2015

Oncology massage therapy is an expanding specialty in the profession of skilled touch. As the field of massage therapy expands, therapists are drawn to this soulful, stimulating work for many reasons. Chief among them are the chance to ease the journey of people with cancer, an opportunity for specialization, and a way to distinguish their work from other therapists.

Body Therapy Institute is happy to again sponsor Tracy Walton to present Oncology Massage Therapy: Caring for Clients with Cancer. This 4-day intensive training will be offered Thursday-Sunday, April 16-19. Tracy is one of the nation’s most respected professionals in this important area of research and treatment. Limited space is still available in this workshop, so call BTI at 919-663-3111 to register or use the secure registration form on our website. Here is an article by Tracy that will introduce you to some of the unique aspects and considerations of this work:


Frequently Asked Questions in Oncology Massage
by Tracy Walton © 2012

Tracy WaltonI receive many questions about this work. First, how is oncology massage unique? How does massage change for people with cancer and cancer histories?

The short answer is that massage is modified to the signs, symptoms and complications of cancer. It is also adjusted to the effects of cancer treatment.  Some of these treatment effects resolve when treatment is complete, but some may linger indefinitely. One essential skill in oncology massage is determining how to work years or even decades after treatment is complete!

This short answer doesn’t capture the range of cancer presentations, or the clinical thinking skills needed, but it provides a starting framework for oncology massage. Good health history questions fill in some details. Although space limits a complete list of intake questions here, resources at the end of this article explain the intake process in more depth. Training in oncology massage is strongly recommended in order work safely and to use interview questions with purpose.

The first question, “Where is the cancer in your body?” points to pressure and joint movement contraindications. By asking “where?” we find out the type of tissue involved, the depth of any mass and its anatomical location. If a solid tumor is superficial enough to be disturbed, the MT is gentle with pressure and movement in the area. If the tumor is deep, say, within a lung or liver, the therapist’s movements may be unlikely to disturb it, but if the function of these organs is impaired, there are likely to be several other significant massage adjustments.

This question, “Where is it?” also includes any metastasis (cancer spread) to adapt to in the session. For example, cancer involving bone can lead to pathologic fracture, similar to osteoporosis. Massage therapists always ask about bone involvement so that we do not injure the bone, either with our pressure or by moving the joints.  Follow-up questions about bone stability are vital. “Bone mets” can make bone extremely fragile, or the bone can be quite stable, despite the mets. The client’s physician advises where and how the bones are most vulnerable, so that a therapist can appropriately adjust movement and pressure.

Another logical question is, “What treatments have you undergone, and how do they affect you?” Cancer medicine is strong medicine; effects of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and other treatments are important massage therapy concerns. There are many massage guidelines, including less pressure if the blood is clotting poorly, predictable rhythms and slower speeds for nausea, or shorter sessions for fever or fatigue. There are even massage contraindications in force years later, adapting to the late effects of cancer treatment. These are often not intuitively obvious to the massage therapist. Issues such as lymphedema risk, organ function impairment due to injury from radiation, bone thinning, and other factors mean that some massage adjustments are lifelong.

Other questions for the oncology massage intake include the client’s activity level and tolerance, whether there are any medical restrictions on their activities, and their blood counts. The activity level and tolerance give us a sense of what the massage tolerance might be. A client exhausted by treatment may require a gentle session. A more robust client might welcome and tolerate a little bit more, but it is vital to start conservatively. If there are medical restrictions on activity, we “mirror that medical concern,” and adjust the massage in kind. Low blood counts might signal low immunity, easy bruising, or low energy from anemia. Corresponding infection control, gentler pressure, or a gentle overall session may be in order.

We also ask clients about medications (many of them taken to control metastasis, increase blood counts, manage symptoms, or prevent cancer recurrence). We modify massage therapy to the effects of medications and the reasons for taking them. We adapt to many side effects such as pain, constipation, nausea, fatigue, or even an increased risk of blood clots. The latter is a particularly important scope of study in oncology massage, because several cancer and cancer treatment factors elevate DVT risk, and blood clots can often be clinically silent. This “hidden contraindication” as well as the other clinical issues require massage therapists to devote time, training, and study in order to practice safely.

These are a few sample interview questions. Several resources support us in interviewing and working with people with cancer. A few are listed here. Resources for further training and information include:

1.  Tracy’s pathology textbook, Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy: A Decision Tree Approach describes detailed interview questions and massage adaptations for general cancer presentations, as well as specific presentations for certain cancers such as leukemia, breast and prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, lymphoma, and others.

2.  Touch, Caring, and Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends is an award-winning DVD and handbook for people with cancer and their care partners.  View a trailer at at

3.  Many full-length articles by Tracy Walton, two in the Massage Therapy Journal, are available free on-line. Another specifically on massage and chemotherapy. Links to these and other resources are at, a clearinghouse for oncology massage information.

4.  The Society for Oncology Massage at  This site is dedicated to advocacy, patient support, educational standards, and standards of practice in oncology massage.  There is even an oncology massage therapist locator service.

The questions listed here contribute to a solid interview.  As touch providers, we are in the wonderful position of providing support, compassion, symptom relief, and relief from isolation on a hard path. In order to do this, we need skill, information, and finesse. When we bring these to the massage treatment room, we can lead a good interview and get a good start to the work.

Working with the Brain, Body & Trauma

December 1st, 2014

This seminar applies all-new research from the fields of neurobiology and the social nervous system for all practitioners working in the healthcare field and especially massage therapists. Participants will learn specific empathetic skills of attunement and resonance which repairs damaged neurological pathways due to trauma.

Advanced Myofascial Therapy Cert. Program

November 1st, 2014

This graduate-level training features leading-edge bodywork methods and theory that will allow you to bring your clients to greater levels of structural balance and body-mind integration. This dynamic combination provides new ways to image the body in its patterns of  organization, and to develop strategies that can address chronic musculoskeletal problems.

Spirit of Learning® 2015-16 Program

July 20th, 2014

The Center for Embodied Teacher Education offers the country’s leading teacher certification program for massage, somatic and healthcare educators. Gain a solid foundation in the knowledge and skills required for effective teaching — while exploring the dynamic relationship between philosophy and methodology in an embodied learning environment.

Michael Shea: Working Heart to Heart in Craniosacral Therapy

July 8th, 2014

shea_michael_newMichael J. Shea, PhD is one of the preeminent educators and authors in the fields of somatic psychology, myofascial release and craniosacral therapy. He’s been presenting continuing education seminars and advanced training programs at the Body Therapy Institute over the past 25 years, and teaches throughout North America and Europe. He is author of the five volumes of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (published by North Atlantic Books), which is considered the definitive reference on both theory and application of this leading-edge approach to whole-person healing.

Dr. Shea will be returning to BTI July 31-August 2 to present a new seminar entitled Craniosacral Therapy: Working Heart to Heart. This work is based on a new paradigm in craniosacral therapy called cardiopathy. “Cardio” means heart and vascular system. “Path” means to feel. Thus, a cardiopathic approach is to feel the health of the heart and vascular system in one’s self and the client with Primary Respiration and stillness. Cardiopathy is about delicate palpation skills. In this class, students will learn how and when to blend all previous learning in craniosacral therapy for the most effective treatment for the client.

This course, which is designed for both new and experienced craniosacral therapists, builds the framework for the whole cardiopathic approach to craniosacral therapy. Students will learn to cultivate the perceptual-touch necessary for sensing both deep metabolism of the autonomic nervous system and cardiovascular physiology. A dynamic new palpation skill to contact the entire vascular tree will be taught.

cranial-handsHe received his master’s degree in Buddhist Psychology at Naropa University, and a doctorate in Somatic Psychology at The Union Institute. Dr. Shea was certified in 1986 as one of the first Full Instructors of CranioSacral Therapy by the Upledger Institute and was an advanced Rolfer for 20 years. As a formal student of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his teaching style is grounded in his spiritual practice of developing compassion with the use of manual therapy. For many years he has also apprenticed with a medicine man on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. From these traditions, he brings a unique cross-cultural perspective to teaching health and healing.

You can get more information about Dr. Shea’s work from his website,

For a complete workshop description and registration, go to this page on the BTI Website:


Invitation to our Summer Open House

June 6th, 2014

FREE SEATED MASSAGE and refreshments! Enjoy the beauty of a summer evening at South Wind Farm, and experience the relaxing touch of massage therapy. Learn more about our renowned Massage Therapy Diploma Program. Those attending will receive complimentary registration for an Introductory Massage Workshop at BTI (a $50 value).

Hawaiian Healing returns to BTI

May 22nd, 2014

_MG_0230 On June 5-7, BTI is honored to again sponsor an Introduction to Traditional Hawaiian Healing Arts with S. Pualani Gillespie. This three-day workshop (open to the public) is a rare opportunity to experience a living tradition that will inform and deeply inspire you.

“Aunty Pua” Gillespie, raised in the Hawaiian culture as a young child, learned the concepts of Hawaiian dance, chant and massage from her family. Her lifelong career as a Registered Nurse Practitioner, and always a student of the healing arts, Aunty Pua was a patient and student of Aunty Margaret Machado (pioneer of Lomilimi massage) since 1989. Following her retirement from the field of Nursing in 1997, Aunty Pua began a full-time massage career and eventually returned to the Big Island of Hawaii in 2001 when she began teaching with the Machado family at their Beach house on Kealakekua Bay.

Since the passing of Aunty Margaret in 2009, Aunty Pua has continued to teach the sacred principles of Aunty Margaret as well as share the Traditional Bodywork principles with students from six continents. She feels it is her gift and mission to keep the traditional healing message alive and share the true meaning of Aloha with her colleagues in the healing arts family. In addition to her work in these traditional realms, she serves as a member of the AMTA National Board of Directors, and is dedicated to the process of bringing massage therapy into the domain of integrative healthcare.

_MG_0232In this unique workshop, you will learn about the teachings of the ancient Hawaiian Healing Arts that date back to the 16th century as Magellan documented them in his ship’s logs as he sailed through Polynesia. It is an opportunity to discover the True Heart of the Hawaiian Spirit of Aloha – the “living water” of unconditional love and acceptance that is the foundation for healing.

These methods have been carried forward in an unbroken chain and are still used today by the Kupuna (elders) from Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island).

You will experience the flow of healing water – Mana Wai Ola – through Chant, Body Stretching and Lomilomi Massage – techniques that have been carefully handed down through the Hawaiian families and have survived the Western influence of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Traditional Hawaiian Healing Practices are rarely shared outside the Hawaiian Islands – and are not found on DVDs or in social media as they are sacred and respectful of the culture.

The sacred principles of Pule, Ho`oponopono and Aloha as taught by the legendary Aunty Margaret Machado (1916-2009) will be shared with the permission of the Machado family.

_MG_0160This workshop will include ceremony, instruction in bodytherapy, as well as time for reflection and spiritual integration. These experiences will combine to enrich you with a balance of mind-body surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance. You will leave with a new enlightenment and spirit to bring to your practice as well as life-changing principles to use as you walk your daily path.

NOTE: This is the only North American workshop being taught this year by Aunty Pua. The photos shown here were taken at last year’s workshop at BTI.

Contact the BTI Office at 919-663-3111 to register for this workshop, or use the secure Registration Form on this website.


Massage, Research & Integrative Medicine

February 1st, 2014

BTI is excited to collaborate with leading clinicians and researchers from Duke Integrative Medicine to help members of the massage therapy community gain the knowledge and skills to participate in research. You’ll also learn strategies for collaborating with doctors and other health care providers in a wide range of treatment environments.

Right Use of Power – Ethics Workshop

January 30th, 2014

Right use of power and influence is at the very heart of ethics. This approach focuses on the relational dynamics that bring ethics to life. Engaging both heart and mind, core concepts include grounding in a felt sense of both sides of the power differential, exploration of power parameters, and working with practical processes for resolving difficulties in the client/therapist relationship.