The Power of Touch
Student Story on Rose Ryan, current student in the full-time Bodywork Therapy Program at VSOHA.
After 12 years working as a flight attendant and 15 years as a hairstylist, Rose decided she wanted to take her career in a direction where she could help people on a deeper level.
“I’ve always liked taking care of people. I have experienced and did not love Western Medicine’s band-aid approach to healing. So I wanted to heal people in a way that didn’t only involve drugs.”
Rose explored physiotherapy, occupational therapy, Registered Massage Therapy (RMT), and even enrolled in post-secondary education, before she realized she wanted something more holistic.
“RMTs in Vancouver especially are so highly trained. It’s wonderful but at the same time, in my experience, it’s made the profession quite clinical, similar to physiotherapy.”
Rose was curious about an approach that took into account the emotional body, trauma and the parasympathetic nervous system. This lead her to enroll in the Full Time Bodywork Therapy program which started in September 2019.
“When I read the course description for Bodywork Therapy, I thought: ‘Is this a real place? Holy crap, this actually exists. And when you get a sense of what VSOHA is trying to do as a whole…wow! Each weekend we’re all so excited to get back to school on Mondays.”
Rose has just completed her 2nd student clinic, which she described as nerve-racking, but affirming. “My clinic experiences have been magic. And it’s just going to get better and better! So far client feedback said ‘I felt safe and comfortable and she feels like a natural’. Obviously I don’t know everything, but I feel very lucky that I can make people feel comfortable in a one-on-one environment.
So far, Rose’s cohort have studied Reflexology and Joint Release of the popular spa modalities. “Reflexology is beautiful. It was neat to experience how it can affect you. After just 20 minutes of somebody touching your feet you can have a physical, whole body sensation. There’s a reverence to it.”
Rose described Joint Release as a subtle and gentle way to create space in the body. “It’s quite profound, especially for those who are uncomfortable with removing clothes and being touched. You can keep your clothes on and have a full-body experience that feels safe and accessible but is still dynamic.”
For this reason, she is also looking forward to learning Shiatsu, another energetic bodywork modality taught in the Bodywork Therapy Program where participants remain clothed for treatments.
“Being a city-dweller in the time and the environment we live in now, there’s a lot of yang energy. So most people could benefit from some yin. And I know lots of people want to get a more intense deep tissue treatment. But maybe some very subtle joint release could have a more profound effect?”
Rose is keeping open minded about what she would like to do after graduating, but knows she wants to be somebody that people of all genders, body types, backgrounds and abilities feel safe coming to for treatments.
“People need human touch to thrive. It has a huge psychological impact and let’s you engage your parasympathetic nervous system. Of course the massage feels nice in the room, but there is a power in touch. It helps your body heal itself.”
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