A wise teacher said, “You don’t need expertise in every modality. Choose a handful that appeal to you and work harmoniously with each other. Then practice.”
I’ve studied many modalities over the nearly twenty years I've been in practice. Here is a brief description of the handful I work with most often.
Swedish Massage is the mothership of anatomy/physiology-based western modalities. The focus is on warming and relaxing muscle tissue and attachments, and facilitating the circulation of lymph and blood. The whole body is addressed symmetrically and rhythmically. Swedish massage is holistic, bringing ease to stiff or tense muscles while also helping increase sensation in areas of stagnation, the places we ignore. Swedish massage promotes relaxation (which is really important), and brings a sense of wholeness, a full-body awareness.
Myofacial Release focuses on the thin layer of fascia that wraps every muscle fiber, unlocking adhesions and creating fluidity. It’s a subtle, technical modality that addresses specific areas to relieve pain and create more ease of movement.
Mind-Body Acupressure is similar to trigger point therapy in that there is direct, focused fingertip pressure. But the ideas behind these modalities are different. Trigger point therapy is focused on physical congestion and muscle spasm, while mind-body acupressure encourages movement of energy through the meridians of Chinese medicine. The intention in trigger point is release. Acupressure is more about seeking balance.
Reiki is a hands-on, gentle healing technique developed in Japan in the 1920s. It is one of the few energy modalities that is widely approved of in modern medical circles.
I’ve read many books and have written extensively about Reiki, all without finding language that accurately describes it. Until someone figures out how to measure its effects or finds the right words to describe it, it remains experiential.
There is more information about Reiki on the Study page. I teach it regularly, receive it regularly, and have used it every day since my first class in 2002. Reiki is a part of every session of massage in my practice. I am in awe of Reiki.
In addition to technique, I rely heavily on mindful listening, intuition, and improvisation. If I can meet a client wherever they are when they arrive for massage, and work with what comes in the door, that makes for the most effective sessions.