We choose the Person of the Month for March-April issue of our Journal because of her contribution to the science of massage therapy. Leslie Young is Editor in Chief of Massage & Bodywork Magazine and this publication is the recipient of our Appreciation Award for 2009. I believe that correct leadership is one of the key factors in the success of any venture, but it is even more important for the success of the professional journal. From this point of view it is obvious that the personal vision and expertise of the Editor in Chief of Massage & Bodywork Magazine is one of the reasons why this publication stands out on the national scene of massage therapy education.

Dr. Ross Turchaninov

Here is our interview with

Editor in Chief of Massage & Bodywork Magazine

Leslie Young, PhD
Leslie Young, PhD

JMS: Please tell our readers how you got into the field of massage therapy education.

L. Young: I had been working at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver for 10 years when I was introduced to Bob Benson, ABMP CEO. A couple years later he made me an offer I thought I shouldn’t refuse: the opportunity to organize ABMP’s communication initiatives, partner with a talented staff, and make beautiful, informative magazines. At that time I had more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor, and project manager, including a master’s and doctorate in communication. Equally as important, I have a deep understanding of and respect for integrated health.

JMS: Please accept our congratulations for the 2009 Appreciation Award for the most valuable massage publication in the USA. What do you think has mostly contributed to the leading role the Massage & Bodywork holds among national massage publications?

L. YoungMassage & Bodywork magazine is fortunate to have Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) as its publisher. As the nation’s leading and largest professional association for massage therapists, ABMP is dedicated to making sure its 70,000 members have the highest quality publications available. We’re consistently publish twice the – and sometimes three times more – editorial than our competitors. We’re not beholden to the shaky advertising environment; we’re here to serve our members and readers. Of course our digital edition – the only true digital edition in the profession – is available as a courtesy to the entire profession at www.massageandbodywork.com.

JMS: Please tell our readers especially from other countries about ABMP in general and Massage & Bodywork.

L. Young: ABMP is the relative newcomer in the profession, but we’re honored to have had so much success because of our members’ participation and our service orientation. We’ve been around since 1987, and now have more than 70,000 members. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is our primary competitor, but we also have a (almost always) friendly working relationship with them. AMTA has been around since 1943 and has 56,000 members nationwide. The primary differences between the two stem from our governance structures (AMTA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit, while ABMP is an employee-owned company). ABMP is an extremely nimble and efficient organization; as a result we are able to remain keenly tuned into our members’ needs and the needs of the profession. ABMP is also known for welcoming the widest assortment of modalities, recognizing more than 260 varieties.

That said, I’m not particularly preoccupied about the party lines in our profession. I’m more concerned about the more than 150,000 practitioners in the United States who don’t belong to a professional association. They’re trying to be successful alone in a very challenging economy without our practice-building materials and programs and the value of liability insurance.

JMS: Where would you like to take your publication in the nearest future?

L. Young: I want for us to continue on the path we’re on, ever upping the bar and never assuming we’ve reached our peak. We walk a delicate balance coordinating editorial that readers need with items they want. We’re also dedicated to opening up as many innovative, virtual opportunities for readers including the digital edition and its video sidebars, and free webinars featuringMassage & Bodywork authors.

JMS: You are editor of Massage & Bodywork for some years and you have definitely seen a lot of changes in the massage profession. The slower economy has greatly affected the entire massage profession especially those who practice stress reduction types of bodywork. I am perfectly aware that the forecast is ungratified business. However, in your opinion, in what direction do you think the industry will grow the most in the nearest future?

L. Young: Yes times are tough, but I can cite you example after example of individual therapists doing amazing work and serving their clients’ needs; their schedules are full and their bank accounts are healthy. I think practitioners must be flexible and ingenious – now more than ever. An increasing number of therapists are choosing to work for others whether in integrated medical settings or retail massage outlets. 

For many, the answer lies in blending options. I’m a huge proponent of continuing education. I think savvy therapists will broaden their skills and complete additional training in complementary fields. By melding their bodywork skills with other professional skills, they’re able to offer more services to their clients and keep their minds and spirits inspired.

With tens of thousands of therapists searching for their niches, the possibilities are endless.

JMS: Do you have favorite type of bodywork?

L. Young: Without a doubt: stone massage. After my first stone massage, some 20 years ago now, I had to walk around downtown before I could drive. It literally transcended me. But I love to try new modalities. At some level I’m in awe of the power of touch and I marvel at how therapists bring their energy into the session such that no treatment is ever the same.

JMS: What advice would you like to give to our readers?

L. Young: Our readers deserve valid, grounded, professional writing. We encourage them to embrace and consider new techniques and schools of thought with respectful, open minds. I encourage readers to embrace the profession’s diversity. Know that ideally we are all here to support each other. Let’s avoid competing with each other. Our true competition is outside of the field – all the other ways consumers can spend their dollars other than on massage and bodywork and their health and well-being. Let’s work together to educate consumers and integrated health professionals about the benefits of bodywork. And let’s inspire each other to operate at our peak capacity.

Category: Person of the Month