“It’s a blunder not to have massage as a routine part of American medicine.”
– Colonel (ret) Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD
Program Director for the Defense & Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management
Fear, anxiety, and pain are a common part of being sick, living with disease, and being in the hospital. Healwell knows that something important happens to ease that experience when humans touch humans. Skilled, kind, present touch reduces pain, eases anxiety, and introduces comfort into the experience of illness in a way that can change outcomes and make mainstream medicine even more effective.
Healwell’s founders, Lauren Cates and Brenda Teal, understand that the absence of massage therapy and other integrative disciplines in standard medical care is a serious and complicated issue. They realized how infrequently and how poorly massage therapy was present in the typical experience of illness. It was clear that there were a variety of interrelated reasons for this scarcity. They knew they could do something meaningful about at least three of them:
- The average massage therapist lacks necessary training. Therapists are not prepared to properly, safely, and effectively provide care in clinical settings to medically complex people.
- There is very little quality, replicable research about the role and effectiveness of massage therapy in these settings and with these populations.
- Volunteerism has become the standard, expected way to incorporate massage therapy into the patient care equation for both massage therapists and healthcare institutions.
These problems are all related and none of them can be solved individually. It was clear that addressing these issues head-on and simultaneously would translate into a better experience for people living and dying with acute, chronic, and terminal illness. Healwell was founded in 2010 to do just that. We provide exceptional clinical training for massage therapists, engage actively in research to demonstrate how and why the integration of massage therapy is essential, and facilitate relationships between trained therapists and the institutions and humans who will benefit from their skill and compassion.
The door is opening for massage therapy to be meaningfully incorporated into standard care. Healthcare is moving increasingly toward integrative medicine where the “whole patient” is considered and treated. Healwell is both responding to and inspiring this movement, bringing clinically relevant, seamlessly integrated massage therapy into medical settings alongside standard medical care every day.