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Title:Massage Therapy: An Examination of the Contextual Model
Author(s):Moyer, Christopher
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hannum, James W.
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Clinical
Abstract:Previous clinical studies of massage therapy (MT), the manual manipulation of soft tissue intended to promote health and well-being, consistently show that this form of treatment can deliver significant reductions of anxiety and depression. However, those studies have tended to conceptualize MT as a medical treatment and ignored numerous ways in which massage therapy is similar to psychotherapy. The current clinical study examines whether verbal communication between massage recipients and therapists is an important factor in providing reductions of psychological distress, and whether recipients' improvements are associated with the perception of a better therapeutic bond with the massage therapist. Thirty psychologically-distressed participants were randomly assigned to receive five sessions of either talk-permissive or talk-restrictive MT. Participants in the talk-permissive condition were allowed to converse freely with their massage therapists, while participants in the talk-restrictive condition were discouraged from conversing more than is necessary to facilitate MT. Participants were blind to group assignment. The amount of conversation that took place, participants' therapeutic bond with their massage therapists, and their levels of psychological distress at several timepoints were assessed. Follow-up assessments were conducted to determine the duration of effects. When talk was examined separately, talk-permissive participants experienced smaller reductions of psychological distress than talk-restrictive participants. When therapeutic bond was examined separately, higher levels of therapeutic bond were associated with greater reductions of psychological distress. When talk and therapeutic bond were examined together in a model that allowed for their interaction, a more complex relationship was observed in which a talk-restrictive, high therapeutic bond condition exhibited the greatest reductions of psychological distress. MT appears to be an effective alternative to traditional treatments for psychological distress, and this effect, while not the result of verbal communication that takes place during MT, may depend on the formation of a therapeutic bond between the therapist and recipient that is similar to that which is commonly believed to be instrumental in psychotherapy.
Issue Date:2007
Description:58 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3301198
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2007

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