How I've Evolved: Thoughts from Apprentice Therapist J Sheffield (they/them)
To learn and grow in healthy ways, we must be be supported by environments that respect, understand and value us as whole beings. Now that I am out of massage school, it is amazing how much I have been able to learn and grow during the first six months of my apprenticeship at Freed Bodyworks under the mentorship of Frances Reed. During this time, I have really started to dive into the work that calls me. As a queer, non-binary trans practitioner striving to build a practice that centers the (often traumatized) experiences of marginalized folks, I have been continuing my education by taking workshops on trauma-informed and consent-based care. I’ve had the privilege to engage in that work locally, including at Creating Change, the National LGBTQ Task Force’s social justice conference.
This year, Freed held a daily wellness center at the conference, at which I offered free table and chair massage, to encourage self and community care as part of sustainable social justice movement work. From my work at Creating Change, at Freed, and in my private practice, I have been learning about what it means to sustainably work for communities I am also a part of, and to work to be accountable and affirming as a white practitioner developing a race-aware, sliding scale practice.
To further my growth as a bodyworker who has many clients who bind and/or have top surgery, Frances has generously shared their experience with me, and we have worked hands on to discuss internal and external scar tissue and fascial constrictions, including ones that limit range of motion and breathing. In February, I had the opportunity to take a two-day specialized course at Healwell on “Scar Tissue Management: Principles, Practice, and Protocol,” which has drastically influenced my working knowledge of lymph, scarring, and fascia in general. On our own, Frances and I have also been talking thru and working hands on with many other common issues that show up on our tables and in our communities, including fibromyalgia, sciatica, piriformis syndrome, plantar fasciitis, conditions affecting numbness and pain in wrists/hands/fingers, and painful compensation patterns resulting from tilted and rotated hips, limbs and spine.
Another invaluable thing that is happening in my training is learning how to use, better take care of, and be present in, my body, mind and spirit. Learning what my energetic, emotional and physical boundaries are ensure that I can create a container to hold space for whatever comes up for a client in any given session. To be present for another person is such a gift, and one I am grateful for every day.