Q&A with Dixie Peacock, RMT, owner of Alternative and Holistic Health Service

Dixie Peacock

Why did you become a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)?
When I was younger, I always found it quite easy to find the sore and achy spots in family members and friends. My aunt bugged me for quite a while to pursue a career as a massage therapist, so I had actually begun my training 12 years ago. I received my Swedish Relaxation Certificate (Spa Massage) but never went back to complete the therapeutic training. In 2018, when I decided I wanted to be my own boss and find a job that I not only loved but could also do good, I started looking at different education options. My friend, who is also an RMT, convinced me to finish my massage therapy training that I had originally started back in 2009. Now I have a job that I love going to every day. Whether the appointment is for relaxation, stress relief, or a medical condition, I get to go home knowing that I’ve helped someone.

What is the prerequisite training and education before you can put RMT behind your name?
To become an RMT in Alberta, a person has to complete a 2,200-hour program, offered by a reputable school. This training includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, and ethics as well as hands-on experience with random clients. This allows for assessment and treatment of different clients, injuries, and medical conditions. Once schooling is complete, the therapist signs up with one of the four associations that oversee the actions of massage therapists in Alberta. These associations also require RMTs to fulfill continuing education credits (CECs) throughout the therapist’s career in the form of additional modality training, seminars, and annual general meetings. These CEC cycles run every three years.

What are the benefits of seeing an RMT?
There are many benefits. Relaxation and stress reduction, relief from everyday aches and pains, as well as muscle flexibility and posture are some of the many things we address. Massage therapy helps with recovery and healing by promoting an increase in circulation of nutrients and oxygen. Massage also releases endorphins (pain-killing hormones), which boost dopamine and serotonin (the happiness chemicals) levels in the body.

Let’s say this is my first time seeing an RMT. Walk me through my first visit with you.
Once an appointment is booked, clients will receive an appointment notification with a link to my client intake form. This form includes contact information, health conditions, and history – to be filled out prior to the appointment. Once in, we will discuss the forms and address any questions or concerns the person may have regarding the treatment. This is then followed by one of two things: If the client is looking for a relaxation or Swedish massage, I will proceed with the treatment. If there are conditions to be worked on, whether it is a chronic problem or recovery from an injury, illness, or surgery, I will proceed to do an assessment. This assessment can include range-of-motion testing, isolation of muscles, as well as others. Treatment of specific muscle groups will follow, and I might also include additional modalities, such as silicon cupping therapy to assist in my treatment. This is discussed and agreed to prior to application. Once the appointment moves towards the physical treatment portion or the session, I will step out of the room while the client gets on the massage table and covers up. I uncover, or drape, only the parts of the body currently being worked on. The client is otherwise fully covered. Once the treatment is complete, I wash my hands and step out of the room. Once dressed, the client returns to the reception area.

What can I expect after my first visit?
Immediately after the treatment I will ask how the client is feeling and, depending on the nature of the massage, may give stretches or different exercises to complete throughout the day to help stretch or strengthen tight or weak muscles. Every person is different in body type, ailments and injury, and there are many things that change how a person feels after each treatment. Immediately after the treatment, most people feel relaxed and refreshed. After a day or so, that can stay the same or your body can feel achy and sore. These things can vary based on how deep of pressure I use during treatment, how healthy or unhealthy the muscle tissue is, or how hydrated the person is.

You just finished an Applied Reflexology course. What will you be able to do now? What is the difference between a massage and reflexology, and what attracted you to be able to offer reflexology as well?
The course I finished was Applied Reflexology for Massage Therapy. The course allows me to take the fundamentals of reflexology and apply it to my current massage practice. I decided to integrate reflexology into my massage therapy treatments because it allows me to treat different conditions that I would not necessarily be able to treat otherwise. The theory behind reflexology is that areas of the foot and hands correspond to organs and other areas of the body. If a client came in post-abdominal surgery, with pain in their lower back and hips, it would not make sense for me to ask them to lay on their stomach. Using the reflexology, I can still help relieve the pain they are feeling by applying pressure to the corresponding areas of their feet.

What is the difference between “spa massage service” and massage therapy?
Swedish relaxation massage, or spa massage, is relatively gentle massage that is used to promote general relaxation and increase circulation of healthy blood, nutrients and lymph but can also be used to relieve pain and other symptoms associated with some health conditions. Therapeutic massage, although still doing the previously mentioned, can treat muscular-skeletal conditions directly or indirectly. Treatment is planned, and adjusted, as the therapist works with the client to build a treatment plan that has tangible results built around health needs and goals. This includes booking of appointments at planned intervals and client self home-care, which can include stretches, workouts, hydration, and thermotherapy.

What are the pros and cons of your profession?
The pros of my job greatly outweigh the cons, but I will start with the cons. I only have one, and that is the dreaded “no-show.” Unfortunately, there are some people that do not cancel appointments if they are unable to make it, and I find this to be a real pain. I have clients who are living in discomfort and need my help that could easily slide into a cancelled appointment spot. When no-shows happen, not only do people miss out, but I have to sit, waiting for time to pass, since there isn’t enough time to sneak anyone in between appointment times. It is a lose-lose situation for everyone. As for the pros, I get to go to work every day loving my job and meeting new people. The clients I get to work on often tell me about their life and the amazing things they have done or seen throughout their lives, so every day is an adventure. I sometimes have a client come in with an unusual health history or something that isn’t in my list of normal or common conditions, so I get to come up with a new treatment plan and work with them to figure out why their body is reacting or behaving the way it is. The biggest pro that I have is when I hear that I am the reason someone is feeling better, or their mobility has improved. It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that I made that much of a difference in someone’s life.

What are your business hours, and do you direct bill insurance plans?
I try and stay as flexible with my hours as I can. Having said that, I don’t actually have permanent business hours. Right now, my summer hours are:

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – 9:30am- 4:00pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday – 1pm-9pm

I’m off every second Friday and weekends. All of my current available appointments are always up to date on my website – www.dixiepeacockrmt.clinicsense.com – and I always update my Facebook page and voicemail if I am going out of town or on holiday. I am set up with direct billing for most major insurance companies. If you are curious whether you are covered, you can look at what I offer on Facebook, or give me a call or text, and I will be happy to look.

How do you relax and unwind? What can we find you doing in your downtime?
I have multiple friends who work in the para-medical field, so my physical relaxation is covered by massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiro. As for my mental and emotional relaxation, I love camping, hot baths, quiet movie nights in or hanging out with friends and family. I also have multiple hobbies that include gardening and sewing. I recently decided to teach myself to knit (although it’s more frustrating than relaxing, at this point).