Massage Therapy (funded project)

Working alongside my colleague Lorraine Hansford, a qualified and registered massage therapist and researcher at Exeter university’s medical school, we propose to conduct a study into the experience of receiving massage therapy whilst recovering from mental illness.

Myself (Nikki Collins) and Lorraine anticipate offering two participants an hour long massage (four participants in total), with each participant receiving four treatments over a period of four to eight weeks. The sample size in the study has been kept deliberately small, as the analysis of the data will be a detailed and reflective phenomenological approach, which takes a considerable amount of time.

It is an area that does not appear to have been studied before. Cavaye (2012) states that massage can be “perceived as a physical or psychological therapy” yet there is a lack of research to explore this from the point of view of both client and therapist. Moyer et al (2004) states that massage therapy “has an effect on trait anxiety and depression similar in magnitude to what would be expected from psychotherapy”, but there is no research that looks at this more closely.

It may be beyond the scope of this study to fully answer these questions, but I feel that we could begin to explore and look for themes that describe people’s experiences and make sense of them. We hope that the study would have an impact in the short term on people within the local recovery community and the complimentary therapy world. We would hope to disseminate the findings via social media, online and articles in newsletters or professional publications. In the long term, we hope that the study may generate interest from professionals in Devon working within e.g. massage, mental health services, the Mood Disorders Centre at Exeter University. We may be able to form a collaboration and find ways to take the study forward.