Interview with Amy Roberts of MassageTherapySuccess.com
Amy Roberts is a business coach for massage therapists and has maintained her own private practice since 1996.
She is well known in the massage community for her eBooks and massage business building program which is helping holistic practitioners build their private practices all around the globe.
Sandy Breckenridge: Amy, can you tell us about your background?
Amy Robert’s Answer: I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. I had a very abusive father and a sad and unhappy mother, but nevertheless was a very happy child through those circumstances. In 1975 my parents divorced and it was very bitter and very messy. I grieved like any other child and came to terms with it quite quickly. I moved around a bit when I was a child — following my mother’s odd jobs. I’ve always had a knack for making friends and making people feel good. I have always been a very happy person regardless of what was going on in my life, I’m extraordinarily fortunate that way.
I started drama classes in 1983 and became quite good at acting. I continued this path until I was 18 — giving 6 years to drama and acting classes and loved every minute of it. I was offered the opportunity to go professional but turned it down because I wanted to get into films in a different way. I wanted to record the sound and music for films.
I hated school and was a rebellious kid. I was not the best student — my grades were D’s most of my high school life. I really didn’t care because somehow, someday I knew that I would discover something greater than grades, getting a job, and working for the man until you die. I decided early on that working as an employee was not the life for me. Mortgage, suburbs, heavily in debt, whipped by a job, have no interests and slowly die on the inside…might as well throw me in prison; I saw the two fates as the same.
I was always so very independent even at a young age. I wanted my own life, a deeper and more meaningful life. I wanted to see the world, help a lot of people, I wanted to delve deeper into my own soul and create a deeply spiritual life for myself. I felt a pull towards being a teacher, or a guide of some sort. I wasn’t sure what this meant back then.
When I finished high school (I passed by 52%) I left to do various jobs while I studied my sound recording course at RMIT in Melbourne. I passed with flying colors and got into the largest recording studio in my country. It was a great honor. I had to work hard to get in, but I did it.
Sandy: How did you became interested in massage therapy?
Amy’s Answer: It was quite interesting how I became interested in Massage Therapy. It was something that powerfully evolved over a reasonably short amount of time and I have never looked back since.
I’m a very logical “right brain” business person, but I’ve always been pretty “fae.” Knowing things about people that were supposed to be a secret, feeling people’s intentions, understand things about the world around me that I found difficult to describe in words, seeing things that other people couldn’t see, feeling things that other people couldn’t feel.
In 1992 and 1993 I was working in a recording studio, thinking I wanted to be a sound engineer for the film industry, back in my early 20’s. I worked with a woman in the studio who suffered with terrible migraines. When she experienced the onset of a migraine I would massage her very tight shoulders and somehow I just knew where to massage and how hard to press. She reported that my “10 minute shoulder massages” where better than the Physiotherapist and better than the Chiropractor. I was very surprised as I was 22 at the time and never laid a hand on anyone before or even had massage myself.
So after a few months of this I became more “in tune” with her. One day she had sinus pain (which I didn’t know about at the time) and as I gave her one of my “ten minute treatments” I started to experience pain in my sinuses. I didn’t know why and it was confusing. My nose started running and I had to stop massaging her so I could get a tissue. She stood there with her mouth agape, watching me fumble for the tissue. I was wondering why she was looking at me. When I asked her she said “I don’t have sinus pain anymore.”
We stood there just looking at each other as it dawned what had happened. I had taken on her pain. Was this possible? How could it be?
At that moment I realized I was in the wrong profession and realized what I should be doing in my life. It was such a strong epiphany. That night as I lay in bed reflecting on the days events I experienced a profound inner peace, as if I was in tune with my life’s purpose. All of a sudden I felt complete, connect and full of vibrant joy.
I guess you could say this lady played a pivotal part in my life and the realization that I had something. Something that gave me such a feeling of joy, achievement and great peace. Twelve years later it still gives me the same feelings.
Sandy: What a powerful way to begin a career by knowing your purpose. How long did it take you to begin working as a massage therapist?
Amy’s Answer: After I completed my course at RMIT, I worked my way into a job at Metropolis Audio. It was the biggest recording studio in the Southern Hemisphere (can I just brag?). A lot of famous Aussies recorded their albums there and it was a great honor to meet some of them. I started off by volunteering my services for free to some of the Sound Engineers and eventually, after a couple of months I was able to get full time work as an assistant with a new engineer called Melissa Jones. She was just starting out herself and needed someone do record sound effects, go on location with her and get her client’s coffee.
I spent many times in the studio recoding sound effects until the wee hours of the night. I also had a lot of fun on location recoding sounds such as sports, water, cars, people in the background, etc. She paid me $280 per week- 1992 standards was a low income, but ok for a single young woman. I managed somehow. She was very unpleasant woman to work with an overly demanding nature and a fickle disposition, but my luck turned and I soon met her receptionist…who suffered with migraines.
Once it was established that I had some talent in Massage Therapy (around 1993) I left the horrible Melissa to find a course in Massage Therapy. I was opening my awareness more and more and began to see and hear “things” that other people could not. I began to actually embrace and accept this, rather feel frightened of it. I became very in tune with what was wrong with people and was able to sense where the problem was in their bodies, even before I touched them. This was a breakthrough for me, because before I had to touch someone to sense it. My “abilities” were becoming stronger.
During this time I came to be aware that I needed to let go of the hurt from being abused as a child. The older I got, my abuser changed tact and turned the from being physically violent to emotional abuse. He had remarried and now realized he could not physically hurt me anymore, but emotional hurt was something that he still could inflict. So he choose that option instead.
As I became aware of this pattern playing out the more exhausted I felt from it all. The more I fell into massage therapy, the more spiritual I became and the less I wanted to have a connection with the man who called himself my father. As I became stronger my relationship with myself as a spiritual being lead me to look less to my father for approval. Each time I delved further into massage therapy the more I realized that I maintained a relationship to “keep up appearances” with him. I was tired and he wore me out. My love for him didn’t waiver by but patience did.
When I enrolled in my massage course in 1994/5 I felt so much elation and joy, I still find it hard to describe today. I’d say “bliss” comes pretty close. The world to me, looked beautiful, glorious, divine and so deeply purposeful. I felt like I was an incredibly special person that had come from Heaven to do massage therapy to help people. I felt as I had been “chosen.” For the first time in my life I felt a true spiritual connection.
As I found a deeper spiritual connection the further I grew away from my parents and my old friends. Massage therapy helped me on so many levels of my personal and spiritual growth. The most significant thing that massage therapy gave me was self love, self respect, and self appreciation. For the first time in my life, this new level of profound connection gave me an insight into what a great person I was. I had a deep reservoir of love for my fellow human beings and also four legged creatures. By being great at massage therapy, and refining my skills in the craft, I was feeling the love that existed in my own heart, flowing into my life and offering me an inner peace I had not experienced before. I was happy all the time. I was at peace all the time. I felt free.
I then decided that I didn’t want to keep dragging around the hurts of the past anymore. I had had enough of my father’s belittling influence and it just didn’t match my new way of being any more. I was strong and he wasn’t treating me as I really was: a great and wonderful person. So I decided that 25 years of abuse was enough.
I wrote him a letter telling him that I was growing up and was tired of his abuse. I stated that I loved him but it was very difficult for a strong and good person to be in a relationship with him. I told him that 25 years of abuse was enough and I wished him well in his life and asked him not to contact me anymore. He wrote back very angrily, confirming his emotional maturity was still at an all time low and I knew I had made the right decision.
When I first walked into the Southern School of Natural Therapies I felt as if I had come home. (At the risk of sounding like a cliche.) I had never felt so relaxed in an environment before. In fact I had never had a safe environment, so looking back now I realize that the feelings of “being home” were simply natural feelings of being safe. I attended my first class in Anatomy and found it surprising that I absorbed all the names of the muscles and bones really well. It wasn’t like school at all! The teacher was incredibly dull and I had trouble keeping riveted during my 9AM Saturday classes, but I made up for that when I studied. My study sessions were stimulating and enlivening. I needed no one to feel this way; just me and my massage therapy together at last.
I powered through my course like a steam train. For the first time in my life I was getting A’s and B’s. I could hardly believe an A for anatomy. I passed with flying colors, at 92%. I had never, ever seen 92% with my name on it. It was astounding. This gave me confidence to do well in my other subjects. I completed Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Bowen Therapy, Shiatsu, Physiology, Biology, Deep Tissue all with flying colors. I then completed First Aid and before I knew it the year was up. I passed my practical exam, along with my 50 hours and waited till I got my certificate in the mail. I had worked very hard and passionately to pass my massage exams with very high marks.
My certificate arrived. I showed my mother and suggested we celebrate. She didn’t display any emotion, or any happiness that I had achieved anything other that just a “trade.” She looked at the certificate as I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and she replied “so when are you going to finally go to the university?” She said I repeatedly let her down because my appalling grades, ‘sunny personality,’ constantly receiving attention from other people and the fact that I never wanted to go to the University.
My mother had studied philosophy for 15 years at University with no aim for a career out of it. But, ironically, to my mother massage therapy wasn’t a “real job,” with “real career” prospects. During my time as a student she asked me when I was going to aim for a “real education.” I told her that I had had more of an education in the past 12 months that I ever had in my life. She had no idea what I was talking about and still doesn’t to this day.
The stronger I became the less and less I could relate to her. I worked to discard the influences of my mother’s self absorption by throwing myself more and more into massage therapy. I didn’t understand her jealousy of me. So I felt it best to move out as fast as I could. I was 24 and was ready to take on the world.
I moved out two weeks after my course finished. I was desperate to get away from my mother’s negative influence. I rented a house in the suburbs and had one room as a clinic room.
I did what everyone else did. I worked from home and decorated my clinic room with beautiful things, pictures, etc and sat back and waited for the clients to come. I kept my job as a personal carer to pay the bills and just waited for the clients to come…They didn’t come and I was confused. But as I learned why they didn’t come and what made them turn away. I was able to change things and have the best practice I could ever imagine.
I’ve been a massage therapist for 12 years now.
Sandy: Amy that is an amazing story. So many people remain stuck and never recover. You have such resilience, are a true survivor, and a wonderful example for others. It can be so challenging when a person has parents that are so very dysfunctional so may your example encourage others to also find their passions and develop their innate gifts.
This leads to the next question. When did you decide to begin massage business coaching? Your ebooks and massage business building methods are excellent. Would you like to wind up this interview telling us more about your program for helping therapists new and old develop a thriving business?
To learn more about Amy’s ebooks, visit > Ignite Your Massage Therapy Practice.
Amy’s Answer: Thank you very much. I’m pretty proud of myself for turning that corner. I made the decision a long time ago that I would grow and thrive and become someone better and not be ‘beaten” by the experience so that this experience would not go to waste. I believe you can learn to grow from every experience in life. I also believe that our lives have a divine purpose and we are what we make of ourselves.
As my practice grew I learned more and more about marketing myself as a therapist. I started to learn what clients responded to and what they didn’t, but most importantly I started to understand why. I tested everything in my marketing; every tiny, little detail you can imagine, I tested and measured everything. In the beginning I had help from books, but the real lessons came from my experience.
After a few years, as my decision to be separate from my parents firmed, so did my self-confidence. I realized that in life you don’t suddenly get to a point and “have it all worked out,” your life is an ever changing work in progress and your development never stays the same. This was reflected in my business.
I used to go to conferences and I’d get asked how long I’d been doing massage and my reply was “2 years, or 3 years” or how ever long I’d been a massage therapist. The reply was “are you able to make a small income from it?” I would look at them in surprise and say “I’ve already hired 3 staff and I am about to hire a fourth, and I am branching out into corporate events…I make more than a small income…” I didn’t say this to appear lofty or anything, I was genuinely surprised.
Then I began to realize I was different than many of the other therapists I was meeting. I was hugely successful and they were not, and I started thinking why this might be. I began to ask people what marketing they were doing and they didn’t know what I meant by “marketing.” This shocked me that a small business owner, massage therapist or not, was not marketing their business. I started to realize this was the difference. I had nailed my marketing and they had no interest in marketing, or at least didn’t know about it.
How odd, I thought, perhaps I could help them? (By this stage I’d been doing massage for 8 years and needed a break. I slowed down my massage business because I needed a break and decided to concentrate on business consulting for a while. I then did a little bit of massage from home to “keep my hand in” and because I just loved doing it.)
That was the birth of a consulting business. I developed a coaching program that I originally ran as a weekend course. I put an ad in an industry magazine and received a few calls, and a handful of clients. This was good because I was charging a lot for my programs. I was charging about $500 and I only needed a few people.
I then offered a one-on-one hourly coaching service, which worked really well. I had a handful of clients again once a week. I would drive all over town to see them. I had a massage clinic, a massage therapist, a physiotherapist, a naturopath and an osteopath. These five clients stayed with me for over a year until their businesses really taking off and I decided I wanted to get my program overseas and to also work less. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish this at this stage…until I met Ed Dale.
Ed Dale was a business man who was just starting to gather a small handful of people together to learn the ways of the internet. The net scared me because I thought it was all porn and gambling! I didn’t know it was a viable medium to conduct business.
After I met him and explained I had developed a system for massage therapists and alternative health practitioners to teach them how to market and build successful practices. He invited me to become a part of the group he was forming because he could see that there was a need for what I offered. I was delighted and said yes. He got together 3 people for a coaching group once a week that he called the Eagles Group. I was invited along to become a member of this small business group.
Ed also included two guys, Anthony Fernando and Eugene Ware, who had IT/technical experience and he used their experience to teach us the ways of the net. These two guys were two of the best people I had ever met. Good, kind, thoughtful people who believed in helping others within the ethics of small business.
Ed was a serious businessman and wanted to go further. Anthony, Eugene, and Ed are the people whom I attribute my enormous success. I was the most successful in our group. I condensed my program into ebooks and within a couple of months I had created an online business. My business took off like a rocket. I earned 10K from my business building and marketing ebooks in just a few months. My dream was coming true…finally I was helping people from all over the world.
I went the massage association here in Australia and told them about the success of my program. They told me they thought my program was irrelevant and that marketing was for business people, not massage therapists. I asked them if they thought massage therapists who were self-employed not business people? They said no. At the time I was aghast at the lack of forward, progressive thinking from my own industry. This lead me to focus on a more international market, which was the best thing I ever did.
Therefore, I connected with the American Massage Therapy Association, the TMA (Therapeutic Massage Association of New Zealand) and the Bowen Therapy Association of the United Kingdom and felt waves of appreciation from these associations.
It confirmed what I had suspected about my country for years – that Australia was still stuck in the 1950’s with its over-conservative attitude. I knew that I could not do business in my own country on the internet.
I discovered that Americans are the best people on earth in which to do business. I was starting to receive American therapists who purchased my books and asked me questions about their businesses. They were so open to learning and listening to what I had to say. It was a refreshing change from my own uptight, retrograde, conservative country.
I was then invited, in 2005, to be a guest speaker at the annual conference of the Therapeutic Massage Association of New Zealand and the Bowen Therapy Association of the United Kingdom. I flew overseas to speak and gained a wonderful experience.
I went online in 2003-2004 and have been growing my business ever since. I have now helped over 5,000 therapists and I absolutely love what I do. I am incredibly blessed to be doing something I love while making a good income. I believe that if you are in tune with your spirit and higher purpose then life will become more meaningful and enriched. We have a reservoir of love inside of us.
I believe massage therapy helped me open the love within and not only heal wounds I had as a child, but bring greater love and happiness into my adult life while helping me grow as a business person, wife and individual. My husband has been my rock and without him the journey would not have been as fun or successful.
My goal is to be able to go to the USA and do give talks and attend conferences to increase my US base. I would like to develop a stronger presence in the US. I’m a guest speaker for the World Massage Conference in November of 2008. I will speak about issues that new massage therapist can overcome with the help of my massage and alternative practitioner marketing programs. I am so very excited to help, and look forward to the many new relationships that are to come.
Sandy: Thank you Amy for sharing your story. So fascinating and exciting that you are available to help other practitioners become successful in this growing industry. For those who want to meet Amy or learn more about her business coaching, watch this short video clip. Or meet Amy by clicking the following link.
To learn more about Amy’s eBooks, visit > Ignite Your Massage Therapy Practice