Q&A with Amma Therapy Instructor, Michael Guida

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Michael Guida - Amma Therapy

This week’s blog post is a Q&A with Michael Guida, one of the lead instructors in our professional Amma Therapy certification program. We thought he would be an excellent source of information and inspiration for anyone considering the program since he has extensive experience both teaching and practicing Amma Therapy.

We are currently enrolling for the program starting September 30, 2014. Classes for this group will be meeting on Tuesdays and Saturdays. If you feel this might be the path for you, feel free to contact us, stop by our next Open House, or leave a question in the comments.

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an Amma Therapy instructor.

In the early 90s I had some friends and family experiencing certain health issues and tried to remedy them using western medicine – to sometimes horrifying results. The idea of that model being my only recourse should I fall ill became scary to me.

I decided to not wait until I reached a health crisis to find out what the alternatives were, so I started investigating different modalities such as acupuncture, reiki, crainio-sacral therapy, tuina, herbalism, homeopathy, etc. Although I had no ailments, I wanted to experience the treatments and find a practitioner that I could trust.

On this journey I decided that instead of having to rely on someone else, I wanted to learn for myself a comprehensive health system. I really did not see this so much as a career change, but as a way to care for myself and the people I love.

Initially I thought acupuncture was what I wanted to do, and I found a school that had programs in acupuncture and Amma Therapy. A lot of the classes were the same for both programs, as Amma Therapy is steeped in Chinese Medicine. So I thought, “Let me go through the Amma Therapy program. Then I can work as an Amma Therapist while I finish the Acupuncture program.”

Well… stepping through the program I just fell in love with giving and receiving Amma and saw no reason to add another modality as Amma Therapy was so complete and fully resonated with me.

After graduation my teachers encouraged me to assist teaching classes and eventually teach. I thought that was an amazing opportunity to continue my learning, so I accepted and continued on that path.

In your mind, what makes Amma Therapy a unique modality?

Amma Therapy is a truly wholistic practice. We not only treat the client, but we empower them to take part in their own healing process. Nutrition, self care, movement, supplementation, herbs, meditation, self realization, detoxification protocols, emotional support, etc. are all part of what can be offered in an Amma treatment.

When learning Amma we are also taught humility, and know when it is appropriate to refer to another modality, including understanding when the use of Western intervention is in the client’s best interest.

What is your favorite part of teaching and being part of The Wellspring School?

It is always so satisfying to see students on their first weeks of the program feeling clumsy and uncoordinated with the manual application of the Amma treatment, and a few short weeks later, as they are practicing on friends and family, they report they had success helping someone out with a headache, or with shoulder pain, or with sleeping problems, and then to flash forward to when they are in clinic and seeing how many of the pieces get put together and applied to help the community.

These things that the students learn in the program are not just for their clients down the road, they are learning things that they can apply to themselves and have a real hand in their own health and well being. It is satisfying and humbling to know that I have some role at The Wellspring in passing on these tools.

Beyond your role as a teacher, how does Amma Therapy matter in your life?

Gosh.. trying not to sound too over the top, but what I learned (and am still learning) as an Amma Therapist not only colors and shades me, but it is the foundation of who I am. My teachers did not just impart some massage techniques and send me on my way. Through practices such at t’ai chi, yoga, breathwork (which were components in the program), and through the mentorship I received as a student, I was taught self-awareness, empathy, self care, how to be a good advocate, etc.

Outside of that, Amma is still my “go to” modality when I am not feeling well and need treatment. I still experiment and indulge in receiving other modalities, but Amma usually what helps most. Honestly, I have not been to a western physician for anything in over 22 years {knocking virtual wood}. I am so grateful for what my teachers taught me.

Can you share an insight into your experience as a practitioner? How did you build your own practice, and what keeps you inspired to continue this work?

Honestly, I built by practice mostly through referrals. People I treat that like the work that I do, tell their circle of friends and family and it builds from there. I think that people see how much I love doing this work, and that I am totally present when treating them (oh…and I let them pick the music they want to hear during the treatment).

I also volunteer in the community quite a bit. Everything from health fairs, to races, to trail building parties to fund raising auctions. My intention is never to simply pass out business cards, I really like giving back and building community, and I guess the omniverse takes note of such things.

What keeps me inspired? This work actually energizes me. There have been times where I have been feeling a little down or lethargic and have called a friend to say “hey, do you want an Amma treatment.” After the treatment we are usually both feeling great. Being able to help people is very satisfying.

What advice would you give someone who is figuring out whether studying Amma Therapy is the next step on their career path?

In my experience, often students that have excelled doing bodywork have reported that, before becoming students they loved giving and getting massage/touch, and tended to take the roll of caregiver in their relationships. I might recommend getting an Amma treatment, or speaking with a student taking the program, or speak to one of the instructors to get some firsthand insights.

I will say that if you decide to take the program, that you should prepare to be a better version of yourself at the end of the experience as it promises to challenge many different aspects of your being.

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