Meet a Member

Name: Wes Steffen
Location: Wheaton, Illinois
Member since: 1989

Q: What’s your area of specialization?

A: In my practice I emphasize specific detail work for clients with chronic or ongoing health conditions. For example, I’ve worked with several clients who have suffered closed cranial injury. This work involves a difficult therapeutic process because of the neurological damage and changes that have an effect on the systems of the body.

I use a blend of modalities to address specific issues and problems. I look at the whole body to understand what is going on in any one area. If a client suffers from chronic migraines, I’ll do a postural evaluation, looking at the feet, the knees, the hips, on up to the head to gather clues on how to release the tension patterns contributing to the migraines.

I draw heavily on the work of Paul St. John’s Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) but also use craniosacral work and Electro Therapeutic Point Stimulation, as well as the more conven- tional deep tissue and Swedish massage and joint mobilization. Each client is a unique learning experience, whether she’s an infant or someone who has had chronic pain all his life. It’s such a satisfaction to hear someone say, “Wow, for the first time in 10 years I don’t have that pain anymore!”

Clients come to me primarily through a referral network of satisfied clients and also doctors and other practitioners who are familiar with my work.

Q: How important is continuing education to your practice?

A: When you first graduate from massage school you think you know a lot, but really you just have the basics. With hands-on experience and regular continuing education, you begin to develop your skills into an art from, deepening your understanding of the body and how to apply the skills you have. It’s an exponential growth—what you learn in one class can not only teach you a new skill, but enrich all of your work. For example, I find that craniosacral and NMT complement and enhance each other and are much more effective together than either modality on their own. Each new class I take opens up a whole new vista for me.

Q: What led you to the practice of massage therapy?

A: I spent 23 years as a missionary in South America, primarily in Bolivia. My family and I returned to the United States to get special education for our youngest son. have a genetic condition, retinitis pigmentosa that eventually leads to blindness. I decided to train in a new profession, massage therapy, because I knew that no matter what happened to my eyesight, I’d still be able to work. I guess you could say that to spirit and soul, I added the body.

Q: How long have you been a massage therapist?

A: I had my training in 1988-1989 and have been practicing ever since. I started out doing contract work in different settings, but I’ve had my own location since 1994. As a practice, we recently did our 40,000th session—the client got a free massage!

Reprinted from Hands On, Issue no. 6, page 5, November/December 2006
The Newsletter of the American Massage Therapy Association.

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