Alternative, Complementary, or Integrative...
Updated: Feb 7
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. This means that your 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.
You can see that yes, each of these situations can be individually defined, but does it really matter? I tend to take a more simplistic view, that being that health care is, well, health care. The key here is knowing what any given provider or therapeutic modality can do for you, and what they cannot. That way you can make an educated choice as to which health care provider might be the most effective for you, given your current state of health.
The moral of the story is this. Don't get caught up in verbal salad. Just do a little research, ask a few questions, and make an informed decision about which health care option would work best for you.
Thanks for your time! Enjoy your day!