FHT Virtual Congress – Mary Atkinson and the Story Massage Programme

In the lead up to the FHT’s first Virtual Training Congress we have been introducing FHT members to our event speakers. This week we speak to Mary Atkinson, 2020 FHT Complementary Therapist of the Year and owner of The Story Massage Programme.

Tell us a bit of background about yourself…

My first career was as a journalist on national women’s magazines. My job was interviewing celebrities which was challenging and fascinating with lots of free tickets to gigs. My mum was a herbalist and brought us up to follow a natural lifestyle and one day Mum and I decided to take a massage course together for fun. Then, aged 44, I decided to take it more seriously, I trained in holistic therapies and went straight to work in the local hospice which was one of the most rewarding times of my life. My two careers merged with writing massage books and running my own training school. In 2012, I co-founded the Story Massage Programme – combining the creativity of words with the benefits of nurturing, positive touch.

How did you find 2020? What business challenges were presented to you and what did you do to adapt to these changes?

When lockdown was announced, I felt a really deep need to do something to offer comfort and reassurance. So, I jumped right out of my comfort zone and began offering live Story Massage demonstrations on social media for schools and families at home. I dressed my teddy, Emmanuel, in themed outfits and we took to the screen together. It was nerve wracking at times, but really well received with feedback from all over the world. We could no longer offer face-to-face training, so I put extra hours into updating our online course and running Zoom classes. I was very grateful for the support of the younger generation who supported my efforts to tackle technology! 

What interests you outside of work?

I’m a very active person. I love walking, swimming, jogging and yoga. I also play the ukulele – with more enthusiasm than talent! And I follow in my mother footsteps with a love of gardening and herbs. We still have an annual Sunflower growing competition even though my daughters are now 29 and 33.

What is your Virtual Congress seminar about and what can viewers expect to come away with?

Last year I was honoured to receive the FHT Complementary Therapy of the Year Award 2020 for my work with the Story Massage Programme during lockdown. In my seminar I will share the key points of the programme of ten basic strokes, and the many different settings in which it is now being used. It will spark lots and lots of new ideas for therapists for sharing the nurturing touch with storytelling at home and in their work.

What is it about your topic that appeals to you and why is it useful for therapists?

It is such a simple and flexible programme that has so many far-reaching benefits – way beyond anything that I could ever have imagined. The Story Massage Programme offers a whole range of possibilities for sharing simple positive touch activities with children and adults of all ages and abilities.

What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to develop their practices?

Be yourself. Try not to compare yourself with other therapists. Your clients will come to you because of your own unique personality and skills.

Buy your ticket to the FHT Virtual Congress here.

*Ticket prices: FHT student members £25, FHT members £30, non-FHT members £45

The 2021 FHT Virtual Congress is sponsored by gateway workshops.co.uk

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