To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Best Practices: Don Kelly,” in the March 2012 issue. Article summary: Don Kelley, N.C.B.T.M.B., has been in private practice for 25 years and teaches neuromuscular therapy internationally for the NMT Center. He graduated from the Reese Institute School of Massage Therapy, and is licensed in Florida and Tennessee. He lives on a small farm in Hohenwald, Tennessee, and practices at Neuromuscular Works in Nashville.

What are the top three things you credit for your professional success?

A: First, I understand the potential and limitations of neuromuscular therapy. Along with my clinical practice, I have had the good fortune to teach neuromuscular therapy, the American version for the Neuromuscular Therapy Center internationally. Teaching has increased my clarity about the work, such as how and when to use it. I provide hands-on therapy and client education to explain the origins of the dysfunction, as well as enroll the client in proactive participation in the recovery process. My training has also helped me know when neuromuscular therapy is not the best course of treatment and the client needs to be referred to another health care professional—a very good thing to know.

Second, I understand the importance of anatomical knowledge. I am continually trying to improve my understanding of anatomy, because that is what will allow me to be more effective as a therapist. It is my opinion that no matter what type of work a therapist does, the better he knows anatomy, the better he will be as a therapist.

Third, I know how critical it is to express an authentic, professional caring for your clients. I endeavor to really pay attention to the needs and goals of my clients; I want them to know that I care about them and their progress, so I make sure they know how to reach me and follow up their visit with a phone call or e-mail.

If you knew when starting out what you know now, what would you have done differently?

A: If I were starting out now, I’d look to establish myself and my practice in a network of health care practitioners. I might work either in an already established clinic, or with a chiropractor or in a doctor’s office. I’d look for a situation where I would have the opportunity to work on a lot of people with a lot of different problems. That would speed up the learning process immensely.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: I have been in practice for 25 years and suspect that in five years, I will be allowing my practice to continue and grow. I will most likely still be teaching neuromuscular therapy, but perhaps with a little less travel. I’ve taught between 14 and 20 classes per year for 20 years in the U.S. and internationally, and while it’s wonderful, it’s also taxing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy my neuromuscular therapy practice. I would strongly encourage any therapist who wishes to pursue a more clinical application of massage to investigate neuromuscular therapy. This work provides a wonderful and rewarding career—and you will make a difference for the thousands of clients with whom you’ll work.

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