Massage Therapy Canada

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Contibutor to Our Profession: Spring 2005

Recently, at the first IN-CAM Research Symposium (www.incamresearch.ca ), I learned that what I have been working away at for most of my adult life – the professionalization of massage therapy – is a named and studied phenomenon among sociologists and others who study health care systems and their relationship to broader social-historical trends and ideologies.


September 29, 2009
By Massage Therapy Magazine

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Tell us a little about yourself:
Recently, at the first IN-CAM Research Symposium (www.incamresearch.ca ), I learned that what I have been working away at for most of my adult life – the professionalization of massage therapy – is a named and studied phenomenon among sociologists and others who study health care systems and their relationship to broader social-historical trends and ideologies.

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Trish Dryden


I have always prided myself (as it turns out, falsely) on being a visionary and a one-of-a-kind, kind of a gal. Turns out I am just like many others of my social class, educational background and gender (although with a lovely and unique sense of humour and fashion sense) – and it is quite likely that contrary to my self-illusions, I haven’t actually ever had an original thought. Apparently, I have usually just stumbled into being in the right place at the right time and have a certain weird kind of drive that makes me want to jump before I am pushed (possibly deeply related to family of origin issues).

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My best, and indisputably most original work, has always been at home – my splendid adult children, Bryn and Jesse, and my beloved partner, Lee, to whom I am committed to following to the ends of the earth (and routinely do) on the back of a motorcycle.

Professional Profile:

Trish Dryden is a practicing massage therapist with over 20 years of professional experience. She is currently Co-ordinator of Massage Therapy Research and Development at Centennial College in Toronto (joining Centennial in 1999). She received her massage therapy training at Sutherland-Chan School and Teaching Clinic from 1979-1981, where she taught and was Dean for many years.  She received her Masters degree in Adult Education from the University of Toronto in 1993. 

Trish served as Chair of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (then called the Board of Directors) from 1985-89 during a time of intense political change and upheaval in the regulated health professions in Ontario. She is a longtime active member of the Ontario Massage Therapists Association (OMTA) and current co-chair, with Pamela Hodgson of the Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance (CMTA) Research Network Committee. Trish’s clinical expertise is in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (in collaboration with Pamela Fitch) and chronic pain.

She is a longtime teacher and workshop leader in the Therapeutic Relationship, Business Skills and now in Research Literacy through an on-line course at Centennial College.

Trish is the co-author of the AMTA Massage Therapy Research Curriculum Kit and the author of numerous publications and articles. She has won many awards over the years for teaching, writing, research, and for professional service including the OMTA Meritorious Service Award.

Trish now spends most of her working time as a researcher and author in complementary and alternative health care (CAHC). She is the principal investigator on Improving Access: A Pre-Registration Program for Internationally Educated Massage Therapists, and co-principal investigator with Dr. Marc White for the CMTA National Task Force Feasibility Study on Outcomes-based Practice.

Trish has completed a study for the Natural Health Products Directorate Research Program, Health Canada on challenges and opportunities for research literacy (the ability to find, understand, critically evaluate and apply research evidence to practice) in CAHC schools in Canada, and a study on the outcomes of an on-line course in research literacy for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Office of Learning Technologies in the Workplace.

Trish is currently designing two clinical studies: one funded by the Holistic Health Research Foundation entitled Massage Therapy for Pregnant Women on Complete Bed Rest in a Hospital Setting: A Pilot Study; and the other funded by The Alternative Cancer Research Foundation of Alberta and the IN-CAM Research Network, entitled Teaching Parents to Massage their Child with Cancer, to Decrease Parental and Child’s Anxiety and Improve Child’s Quality of Life. 

Trish sits on several national CAHC research committees including the advisory committee for IN-CAM, the steering committee for CAHC research at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and she is currently helping to develop CAHC curriculum for all undergraduate medical schools in Canada. Trish lectures, conducts workshops and publishes internationally.

Influential people or experiences:
For most of my life, I have found myself in the company of people who know more than I do, starting with my mother, Betty Dryden, who was a feminist in the 1930s and a very un-Betty Crocker-like mother in the 1950s when I was born. She taught me that literacy is at the heart of any hope for real change in the world. Christine Sutherland gave me my first massage when I was pregnant with my first child and I was so blown away, that I stopped being a-wanna-be Chaucer scholar and started being a massage therapist.   

Most cherished experience or accomplishment:
Firstly, my personal life with family and friends. It is what really counts and what at the end of the day makes me the most happy. Secondly, being able to work at meaningful work, where I believe what I do can actually make a difference in people’s lives. I pinch myself daily, knowing that I get paid to think, read, write and massage; and that I have the opportunity to work with many truly remarkable people such as my clients, students and colleagues.  

Hope for our profession:
That as a profession, we stop our endless worrying about what other people think of what we do for work and find the energy to work together to deeply and rigorously examine the meaning, value and purpose in our roles as massage therapists, and our understanding of what massage therapy actually is and does – and not just for ourselves, but for the benefit of those who entrust us with the care of their bodies.

Words of wisdom:

We are changing the world, one effleurage at a time.


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