Education - Education Conference The Continuing Education Program is designed to help massage therapists increase their knowledge base to continuously improve for both their own personal success and that of the client.


Presentation and Session Information

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Dacher Keltner, Phd, Compassion Researcher and Author of Born to be Good

Dacher Keltner is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, Director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab, and serves as the Faculty Director of the Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. His research focuses the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, and beauty, as well as power, social class, and inequality.

Keltner is the author of The Power Paradox, as well as the bestseller Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and The Compassionate Instinct. He has published over 190 scientific articles, including seminal works on the psychology of awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003) and is the co-author of two textbooks. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, London Times, and Utne Reader, and his research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, and the BBC as well as many other outlets.

In addition to his university work and research, Dacher Keltner has collaborated on projects at Facebook and Google. Most recently, Keltner was the scientific consultant for Pixar’s highly acclaimed film Inside Out, for which he helped revise the story emphasizing the neuropsychological findings that human emotions are mirrored in interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them. He has twice presented his research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a continuing dialogue between the Dalai Lama and scientists. He has received outstanding teacher and research mentor awards from UC Berkeley, and he has seen 20 of his PhD students and post-doctoral fellows become professors.

Dacher is an outstanding speaker who has received several national research and teaching awards. Wired magazine has rated the podcasts of his “Human Emotion” course as one of the five best academic podcasts in the country. The Utne Reader named Dacher as one of its 50 Visionaries of 2008.

Keynote Presentation: Stress and Pathways to Resilience

Dacher Keltner will detail the latest science of stress, and what it does to the mind and body. He will detail the latest insights concerning actionable practices such as empathy, mindfulness, narrative, and awe that curtail stress and increase health and well-being.

9:00am - 10:15am


Dr. Melanie Noel, PhD, Pediatric Pain Scientist

Melanie Noel is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Calgary and a Full Member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education. She directs the Alberta Children’s Pain Research Lab within the Vi Riddell Pain & Rehabilitation Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Noel’s expertise is on children’s memories for pain and co-occurring mental health issues and pediatric chronic pain. She has published conceptual models of children’s pain memory development, co-occurring PTSD and chronic pain, and fear-avoidance (72 peer-reviewed papers, H index = 21). In recognition of her contributions to advancing knowledge of the psychological aspects of children’s pain, Dr. Noel received early career awards from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), the Canadian Pain Society, the American Pain Society, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Society of Pediatric Psychology.

Dr. Noel co-chairs the Pain in Child Health Research Training Initiative and is the vice chair of the Scientific Program Committee (SPC) of the Canadian Pain Society. She is an advocate for the use of developmentally tailored psychological interventions for pediatric pain management and serves on committees to promote and implement evidence based interventions within her children’s hospital and beyond. As an evidence lead on the Help Eliminate Pain in Kids and Adults team, Dr. Noel co-authored clinical practice guidelines for pain and fear management for vaccine injections. Many of these recommendations were adopted by the World Health Organization.

Keynote Presentation: Memory for Pain in Childhood: Development, Impact, and Intervention

From the first days of birth, infants can form memories of pain. Once formed, these memories play a powerful role in shaping future pain and health care experiences. As children acquire language and their explicit memory system develops, these memories become constructed and reconstructed in their interactions with others, and particularly for young children, in their interactions with parents. Memory is not like a tape recorder. You can’t play back an experience and have it recounted exactly as it happened. Rather these memories are highly susceptible to distortion. Children who develop negative biases in memory (i.e., they recall more pain than they initially experienced) are at risk for developing fears and avoidance of pain and health care, and are also at risk for pain transitioning from an acute to chronic state. Moreover, emerging research suggests that brain regions associated with memory are implicated in the chronic pain state in youth. Once pain becomes chronic in adolescence, more pathological forms of remembering (e.g., in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) develop which further exacerbates pain and decreases quality of life. Dr. Noel will describe a program of research that is establishing factors implicated in the development of children’s memories for pain, the role of pain memories in future pain experiences, and the development of a parent-led intervention to reframe children’s pain memories to buffer against the development of memory biases and lead to better pain outcomes in the future. She will also discuss work to understand the neurobiological, cognitive-behavioural, and interpersonal factors that lead to the development and maintenance of chronic pain and PTSD in youth to improve how to tailor treatments for the most vulnerable children.

10:30am - 12:00pm



Evidence-Based Osteoarthritis Treatment Guidelines for RMTs

This lecture will discuss ways to incorporate a biopsychosocial framework into traditional massage therapy practice to improve treatment outcomes for patients with painful osteoarthritis symptoms. Current clinical practice guidelines for osteoarthritis will be introduced, and this is used to develop an easy to apply treatment plan. An explanation of the neurophysiology of pain will also help participants to gain an understanding of the effects massage therapists influence at the sensory, motor and cortical levels.

Presented by: Eric Purves, BSc, RMT (Read Bio)

1:30pm - 2:30pm

Adjustment of Assessment and Treatment Plan for Clients Taking Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Medications

Massage therapists are frequently encountering patients who use medications to manage pain and inflammation. This session will outline the ways in which these medications can alter the assessment and treatment of muscular and connective tissue, as well as the patient’s feedback. It will also focus on the mechanism of action and therapeutic effect of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, muscle relaxants and narcotic analgesics. The side effects of these medications, which can mimic primary symptoms, will be discussed and assessment and treatment guidelines for massage therapists will be presented.

Presented by: Natalie Fouks, RMT (Read Bio)

2:45pm - 3:45pm

Neural Mobilization: Clinical Pearls and Current Research


Massage therapists are well suited to help patients suffering from common musculoskeletal symptoms by incorporating advanced treatment approaches into practice. There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of neural mobilization as part of a multidimensional treatment approach. Massage therapists are able to make use of their excellent soft tissue skills and regularly apply neural mobilization as part of a multi-modal rehabilitation strategy. This session will provide a thorough review of the available evidence and summarize research findings and their practical implications for massage therapists. Pain neuroscience will be introduced and participants will be provided with an overview of neural mobilization within the biopsychosocial construct.

Presented by: Richard Lebert, RMT (Read Bio)

4:00pm - 5:00pm



Awareness and Introduction to Treatment Protocols for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The brain’s capacity to process on multiple levels simultaneously means there are many possible interpretations the brain can have for any given stressor. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is the most common form of anxiety, is an example of how a psychological stressor can impact an individual’s experience of physical pain. This session includes a definition of GAD, signs and symptoms, causes and risk factors, neural plasticity of the brain and the physical manifestations of pain in the body. Strategies will be proposed to validate the pain experience for the patient and integrate a mindful approach using sustained touch integrating techniques such as muscle energy, myofascial, cranial sacral and shiatsu into treatment.

Presented by: Kim Dunlop, RMT and Lori Eisler, RMT, DOMP (Read Bios)

1:30pm - 2:30pm

Responding Professionally to Clients Living with Chronic Pain or Mental Illness


This practical session outlines a robust evidence-informed clinical decision-making framework for working with clients who live with complex pain conditions or mental health challenges. Massage therapists often encounter clients who live with chronic pain and mental health challenges. No two clients are alike because each client lives their own unique life and history. In complex pain scenarios, it is common for clients to ask massage therapists for advice or share expectations for care that lie outside of a massage therapist’s scope of practice. While trying new ways to solve challenging cases, participants will be encouraged to reflect on ways that mental illness or complex pain can present in the treatment room.

Presented by: Pamela Fitch, M.Ad.Ed., RMT (Read Bio)

2:45pm - 3:45pm

Listen to Their Story: Recognizing Psychological Barriers and Their Impacts on Pain and Dysfunction

This session will review the importance of understanding the impact psychological factors have on physical health. The principles of active listening to inform clinical reasoning and decision-making are introduced. Contributors to pain-related disability and dysfunction can be due to unhelpful beliefs and fears. Participants will learn the basic principles of conducting a biopsychosocial interview with a focus on exploring psychosocial barriers to recovery.

Presented by: Eric Purves, BSc, RMT (Read Bio)

4:00pm - 5:00pm



Impact and Comprehension of Differential Pain Reporting in Developing Countries

This session will present a personal perspective of pain management and reporting observed during two years in health care in war-torn and developing countries. The presenter will offer academic comparisons on how past cultural practices, religion and access to medical care can affect pain management and pain reporting in a health care setting. Cultural variation on pain reporting will be discussed, as well as the influence of factors such as socioeconomic status and perceived quality of life on pain reporting in developing versus first world countries. Particular examples of the ways in which the access to social media plays a role in pain management will also be provided.

Presented by: Erin Hobson, RMT (Read Bio)

1:30pm - 2:30pm

Pain Care Through an Ethical Lens

In order for massage therapists to remain responsible and accountable to society, our patients, ourselves, and our profession, having the skills and knowledge to review our ethical responsibilities in light of new evidence-based information is an important responsibility. This session will review the massage therapy code of ethics that outlines the ethical codes of Respect for Persons, Responsible Caring, Integrity in Relationships and Responsibility to Society in light of new information from pain science. For example, within the code patient autonomy includes “providing the patient with complete and accurate information … to make informed choices.” Specific emphasis will be placed on how the science of pain and treatment from a patient-centered biopsychosocial model changes ethical perspectives for massage therapists who largely treat from a biomedical/biomechanical framework. Changes in a massage therapist’s knowledge about how the causes of pain impact ethical clinical decision making around treatment will be explored.

Presented by: Monica Noy, RMT, BSc. (Ost) (Read Bio)

2:45pm - 3:45pm

Using Evidence-Informed Practice to Support Clients Living with Complex Conditions

This practical session will show massage therapists how to use evidence to inform decision-making. Using a case scenario, participants will analyze client impairments or barriers to recovery, discuss clinical impressions and explore available databases in order to uncover relevant evidence. All participants would benefit from bringing their own computers to this session.

Presented by: Pamela Fitch, M.Ad.Ed., RMT(Read Bio)

4:00pm - 5:00pm