Interview with Massage Therapist Kathy Gruver

Interview with Massage TherapistKathy Gruver has been involved in natural health for nearly two decades and has her Masters in Natural Health and Doctorate in Traditional Naturopathy. Kathy is a Medical Massage Therapist, Natural Health Consultant, Reiki Master, and Birth Assistant. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Natural Health.

Kathy owns Healing Circle Massage in Santa Barbara which specializes in medical and therapeutic massage and was chosen as a “Best Practice” by Massage Magazine in 2006 and 2007. Healing Circle Natural Health is another aspect of her business that utilizes her knowledge of alternative medicine for health consultations where diet, exercise, herbs, homeopathics and other modalities may be suggested to restore the health of the client. Kathy also runs Healthier Office which provides in-office health and wellness lectures and workshops.
Kathy has authored numerous health and massage articles as well as appeared on radio shows nationwide speaking on a variety of health topics. She was invited recently to serve on the advisory board for The Holistic Option, a website encompassing every aspect of natural health.

She is a lecturer, health educator and a former actor. Her varied performance background ranges from Shakespeare to corporate educational performance, national commercials to independent films. Her lectures have been described as both informative and entertaining and she makes her point through humor.

Her first instructional massage series, “Therapeutic Massage at Home, Learn to rub people the right way”, is currently available. She can be reached through or

1. Why did you become a massage therapist?

I shot out of the womb trying to rub the doctor and it’s been part of my life ever since. Seriously though, I was doing massage as a kid. I’d rub my dad’s neck on long car trips so he didn’t get headaches. I was the one everyone turned to in highschool…and college. And when I met a healer, sort of accidently, in college, it was all over. I knew it was a path I wanted to take.

2. Did you attend school full-time during your training?

I started an old-fashioned way by apprenticing for a few summers with the woman I met in college. When I moved to LA I studied more. Then moved to Santa Barbara and studied more. There wasn’t really an option of full time study where I was, so did the evening classes while I worked during the day.

3. What was the most interesting part of your training? 

I found myself really into anatomy and the medical side of things. I, of course, loved the hands on work and was much more drawn to trigger point and deep tissue than the lighter work.

4. Do you work for yourself or are you employed as a massage therapist? 

Other than a few stints with a physical therapy office and a few chiropractors and the occasional spa, I’ve pretty much always had my own clients. Now, I have a full blown private practice with therapists that work for me.

5. What is the most satisfying part of your work?

I help people feel better, on so many levels. I get thanks you notes, phone calls and tear-filled hugs. It’s fabulous and not many people get to experience that in their profession.

6. What trends in massage do you think are most interesting?

I think the recent distinction between medical massage and spa massage is fascinating. It’s asking therapists to further define themselves where we didn’t really do that 20 years ago. I’m also finding myself sort of disappointed, at least in CA, with so many people getting into this field because it’s “easy.”

Training isn’t very time consuming and I think students are under the misconception that they can graduate and suddenly run their own practice and make crap-loads of money. We all have to make a living, but I think some people are misguided and misinformed about why they choose this career.

7. Have you supplemented your training in any way since you became a massage therapist?

I not only got my medical massage training, but also received my ND as a Traditional Naturopath, Masters in Natural Health and I’m pursuing my PhD. I found myself reading every medical book I could get my hands on and thought, “Why am I not doing this for real?” I can’t get enough of it. And every time I put my hands on someone I learn something new. Life is the best school!

8. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a career as a massage therapist?

Know what you want to accomplish by starting this path. Is it just money or do you want to help people? This is NOT an easy profession and has a quick burn out rate. It’s physically demanding and remember you’re going to be touching people. Maybe not people that you necessarily would want to be touching. That can really freak people out at first.

If you do make the choice to pursue this, study, be confident in your skills and make sure you’re really read to go out there. Don’t try to start a practice if you’re not ready. Talk to people, get feedback on your massage and take their suggestions. You can’t learn massage in a vacuum!