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Contributor to Our Profession: Fall 2003

I was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, seventh of eight kids. I’m 44 years old. Moved to Penticton, B.C. with my parents and my younger brother when I was 10. My dad died of a heart attack at age 62. My mom died at 73 while I was in my last term of school at WCCMT.

September 22, 2009  By Massage Therapy Magazine

Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, seventh of eight kids. I’m 44 years old. Moved to Penticton, B.C. with my parents and my younger brother when I was 10. My dad died of a heart attack at age 62. My mom died at 73 while I was in my last term of school at WCCMT. You might say I floundered in my early years, not knowing what I wanted and getting a lot of, as my mom would say, “life experience” which I’ve used to its fullest in my later years. I had one year of general studies at College right out of high school, then had several interesting jobs from working in a foundry to working retail where I met my wife, Monica. Married 20 years in October, have one child, son Harley, two dogs and one bird. I’ve always been an active person playing all team sports and enjoy skiing in the winter.

murray schwabe  
Murray Schwabe


Professional profile:
I’ve taken several Paul St John and Vodder Lymph-drainage courses, but continue to do a lot of multi-dimensional workshops focused more on the area of the body and all the different treatment styles and protocols that you could use in that area. Coming out of school, I had a mindset to not want to specialize in one particular system or style, but rather have general knowledge and a large kit bag to draw from for anyone that walked into my clinic. This was my focus in setting up my clinic as well. I didn’t want to be known for just sport therapy, deep work therapy, etc … rather someone in the community that would try whatever they could with whoever came in, to get them back into a state of wellness.  I set up my clinic seven years ago and brought in another therapist three years after that. We now are looking for a third therapist part-time. The clinic is a perfect mix of high professionalism and fun because, in my opinion, I really don’t have a job to go to – it’s a lifestyle that I picked and love dearly.  

Influential people or experiences leading you to this profession and career:

  • Brian Tracy seminar in 1983, called the Phoenix Seminar. It was a series of videos and a workbook that was presented over two weekends. My sister had taken it and was so convincing in the message of life-altering change that my wife and I took it and changed our world. 
  • Toastmasters. I started to take Toastmasters after the seminar and became club president. This opened me up to other things and possibilities. I started to read other authors such as Norman Vincent Peale, Napolean Hill, M. Scott Peck, Deepak Chopra and Stephan Covey.

These events opened me up to a moment in time I will never forget. I was newly married and working as an assistant manager in a retail store. One rainy winter evening, I was stuck in traffic and started listening to the Talk Radio AM station. They had a radio interview with the president of West Coast College of Massage Therapy, John Raniey.

This huge lightbulb went on over my head and I was writing the schools’ numbers on my hands. I sent away for the schools’ info packs, and then did my due diligence and contacted the three therapists in my home town, asking them the question, How much do you make? It was less than what I was making and I couldn’t see me telling my new bride that I wanted to go back to school and come out two years later with mass debt and making less than I was now. So the idea sat in my head for 10 years.

One day, having had enough of putting out fires at work, I came home and said, “honey, I have to go back to school.” She said, “go for it.” Did I tell you she is an angel?

Most cherished experience or accomplishment:
Marrying my wife. Watching my son be born. I failed my first board exam by 2 per cent on one of my tests, and had to wait six months, working at The Bay while waiting to write the second time. School, the exam and the re-write of the exam was the most challenging thing I have ever done. It put enormous stress on friends, family and marriage. Passing the board exam of the CMT for the honor of becoming an RMT was a life experience. It wasn’t until my mom passed away in the last term of school and the family was cleaning things up in her house that I found a picture of me as a four-year-old sitting under the kitchen table giving my sisters a foot rub that I new I had picked the right profession.

Hope for our profession in the future:
I have always been a person who feels that you have no right to complain unless you are trying to work on changing what you don’t like, or helping to be part of the solution.   

I signed up for the MTA, Massage Therapists Association of B.C. board right away and worked as the liaison for WCB, RCMP, DVA, ICBC. I have sat as President for the B.C. Massage Practitioner Journal Society. I was Vice-President of the College of Massage Therapists of B.C. and chair of the Unauthorized Practice Committee, and now sit as President of the CMTBC. I have also, just, taken a role as President of my son’s High School Parent Advisory Council.   

Never before in the history of Massage Therapy in Canada has there been so many challenges, positive and negative.

Change is a constant, it is how you deal with it that makes or breaks you. Please let me preface the reading of this by saying that this is only an opinion based on facts, observations and communication by me. I see this, as hopefully being a catalyst to further dialogue.

The new era of healthcare in B.C. has irrevocably changed the way we as providers of supplementary healthcare, look at the way things are done. We must, while working within the mandate, by-laws and policy protocol of a provincially regulated system, start to work locally and think globally.

I don’t want to come off sounding alarmist, however, times they are a changing, faster than we realize.

Five years ago fax machines were the hot item, virtually no one, unless you where a computer geek, had e-mail. CDs and DVDs were in their infancy and you could still buy a car with a tape deck. Only the rich and famous used day spas regularly and only warships had global positioning satellites.

Today’s society is getting more everything; more educated, more impatient, more globally inundated with products and services. Registered Massage Therapy in Canada must be kept to the highest standards it possibly can and I see that as having all Provinces regulated and with a pinnacle of a Masters Degree in Massage Therapy. I feel it is the duty of every Massage Therapist to inform and educate the public on the benefits and safety of seeing a qualified competent, regulated allied healthcare professional.

Unlike in any other regulated healthcare profession, RMTs are being hit and attacked from all sides; Kinesiologists, Bodyworkers, people taking weekend courses on massage or ortho-bionamy, reflexologists, chair massage, aestheticians, out-of-province non-registrants, out-of-school non-registrants (with or without diploma), spas, chiros, PTs, naturapaths, and other healthcare organizations, are all under the impression that they can do all that an RMT can do and more.

The future of this profession is in the hands of the up-and-coming therapists. I am very proud to be part of the beginning of a more unified National process that will, I hope harmonize Canadian Massage Therapists into the leading edge of patient treatment and be a model for organizations around the world.

I am looking forward to having the world look in on the best trained therapists in the world when Vancouver and Canada are shown off in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

We all must take some social responsibility for our actions and say “what is best for the society I live in, what kind of village do I want my children to grow up in and my parents to retire in and how can I help to make that a reality.

As an entrance requirement for acceptance into Massage Therapy at West Coast College Of Massage therapy, they asked everyone to write why they wanted to go into Massage Therapy and this is what I wrote and it hangs in my clinic as a constant reminder to me.

– Be all that you can be: I finally believe that I have found the right road map. The next 18 months will be a period of great growth and much travel. I plan to be a sponge and soak up everything I possibly can that pertains to the basic principles of life and massage. To assimilate that information with my own knowledge, to empower me to have the personal and professional standards I feel are needed to be the “Best Registered Massage Therapist I Can Be”

I believe these standards to be: Integrity, Empathy, Honesty, Responsibility, Effective Communication, Disciplined Work Habits, and Trustworthiness.

I want to go down the road knowing that in some way I have contributed to the betterment of mankind, if only by putting a smile back on one person’s face.

Words of wisdom:
Don’t die with the music still in you.

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