Massage Therapy Canada

Features Collaboration Practice
Contibutor to Our Profession: Winter 2004

I was born in San Miguel in Portugal – a beautiful island resplendent with aromatic wild flowers, volcanoes, ancient history and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean. We immigrated to Canada when I was four years old, and I relocated to B.C. approximately 10 years ago from Toronto.

September 28, 2009  By Massage Therapy Magazine

Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in San Miguel in Portugal – a beautiful island resplendent with aromatic wild flowers, volcanoes, ancient history and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean. We immigrated to Canada when I was four years old, and I relocated to B.C. approximately 10 years ago from Toronto.


Cidalia Paiva

I am sincere, deeply committed and far too serious for my own good (or so I have been told). I respect and honour human vulnerability and have spent my life supporting the efforts of health care professionals in developing the presence and commitment I believe are necessary to integrally serve the best interests and well being of our clients. I am genuinely inspired by kind, caring and compassionate people and by this remarkable profession that every day places their hearts in their hands.


Professional Profile:
I hold a Ph.D. in Philosophy with a specialization in medical Ethics. I have enjoyed a fulfilling career in health care in both allopathic (I was employed as a clinical ethicist in a hospital in Toronto) and complementary medicine and, more specifically, massage therapy for over 20 years. I have taught at both the university and college levels and created ethics curriculum for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, naturopaths and massage therapists. Presently I am the only professionally trained clinical ethicist serving the field of complementary medicine in North America today.

Influential people or experiences leading you to this profession:
My beloved brother, Tony Manuel Paiva, who died at the tender age of 28 of cancer, was the most significant influence in my life. He passionately encouraged me to give what I could give and to cherish every moment of this precious life. Subsequent to his death, I left my job at the hospital and sought a new direction for my career. I was approached to develop an ethics curriculum for a massage college in Toronto, and thoughtlessly complained about some minor administrative concerns and some 20 years later; find myself an administrator in a wonderful massage college in British Columbia. You have to watch out what you complain about, it can become your life. During my time at the college, massage therapy has become a formative part of my health care and my healing. I have spent the last several years of my life attempting to reciprocate what this profession has given me: hope, purpose and meaning.

Most cherished experience or accomplishment:
At a personal level, my most cherished memory consists of the time my brother and I spent together getting to know each other and living the love we felt for each other just before he died. At a professional level, teaching and learning from my students, building relationships, connections and community are all part of special memories I cherish.

bio2.jpgSpecial accomplishments for me include: facilitating the development of our profession in the area of ethics and professionalism in Ontario and British Columbia; co-authoring, with Trish Dryden, the Code of Ethics document of Ontario; rebuilding, with the support, guidance and mentorship of Thane Campbell, the West Coast College of Massage Therapy and being cited by the Financial Post, December 2002, as the premier college of massage therapy education and training on the continent, moving into the final stage of degree development and on the imminent horizon of creating a BSMT degree for our profession; founding the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 (Western Canada’s first college of naturopathic medicine); the publication of Keeping the Professional Promise, my first book on professional ethics for massage therapists; the creation of a proposal for national accreditation to ensure the quality and credibility of massage therapy education across Canada; and my present work in progress “Simply From the Heart: The Stories of Healing Hands,” where I tell the healing stories of massage therapists across the country and share these with our community.

Hope for our profession:

My greatest hope for our profession lies in the ongoing challenge of utilizing our strengths, resources and energies in a common, concerted and unified effort to promote the best interests of the profession from a place of integrity and commitment. Key components of an agenda for the development of our infant profession include: the development of higher education, i.e. the creation of a Bachelor’s degree and subsequently, post-graduate degree studies in massage therapy, the creation of career mobility for massage therapy students and graduates in order to provide access and entry to other allied health professions and the opportunity to partner across disciplines for research purposes, the continued development of a research agenda to promote research literacy and capacity, the development of a body of knowledge and discipline of study in ethics and professionalism that will provide substantive curriculum comparable in content and calibre to that offered in the university sector, making a very real and conscious effort to retain our identity and the affective nature of massage therapy, that is our greatest strength and gift.

Words of wisdom:
The greatest success in life lies not in accomplishment, but in fulfillment. The key to fulfillment is remembering why you do what you do and what brought you into this profession to begin with. If you can stay connected to your reason for being here, in effect, your purpose, you will find you, the kind, caring, compassionate heart that is your gift and the gift of our profession. We do something powerful, wonderful and good. When we touch people’s bodies, we touch their lives. We all have so much to give and so much to receive, but we can only give and receive from a place of presence, sincerity and commitment, and of course, humility and gratitude for the opportunity and the privilege to be of service to others.

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