Alternative, Complementary, or Integrative...
The health care you seek from your Massage Therapist is often labeled as either Alternative, Complementary, or Integrative. What do those labels mean and does it really matter?
Basically, the definitions have to do with relationships. Specifically, relationships between the Massage Therapist and the health care system as we know it. It goes something like this. Massage therapy can be viewed as "alternative" if the care given is not in anyway associated with the health care system. You have sought out the services of your LMT and have bypassed standard health care in favor of hands on care.
Complementary care could be defined as care that is sought out while you are receiving some form of standard medical care be it surgical, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or pharmaceutical. Supplemental care would be another way to define this way of using massage and manual therapy.
Finally there is "Integrative" care. For me this means that you massage care is being used in coordination with a health care team and that this team manages your care according to what is happening with you at any particular moment in time as you seek out care.
You can see that yes, each of these situations can be individually defined, but does it really matter. Health care is, well, health care. The key is knowing what any given provider can do for you, and what they cannot. That way we can make an educated choice as to which health care provider might be the most effective for us to see.