Massage therapist, educator and researcher Diana L. Thompson, L.M.P., received the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) Distinguished Service Award at a reception held at the American Massage Therapy Association’s annual national convention in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 27.

The MTF’s Distinguished Service Award is presented to people “whose service to the profession, by nature of their generous volunteer efforts on behalf of the Foundation, goes far beyond the norm,” according to a statement on the MTF’s website. “It is only through the dedicated work of our volunteers that the [MTF] can realize any success.”

MTF President Ruth Werner presented the award. “Diana Thompson is an inspiration to everyone who has the privilege to work with her,” she said in an interview after the convention. “Her passion and commitment to the value of our work is unmatched.

“Every massage therapist is better off because of the work she does to promote our profession,” Werner added.

Thompson has 30 years’ experience in massage therapy, and maintains a private practice in Seattle, Washington, where she specializes in manual lymph drainage. She is the former president of the MTF and has served the MTF in various other capacities. She authored the textbook Hands Heal: Communication, Documentation and Insurance Billing for Manual Therapists (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins), and teaches workshops in research literacy, massage approaches to diabetes, self-care and more.

Of receiving the award, Thompson told MASSAGE Magazine, “I was surprised and delighted. One never expects to be honored for work that is done out of necessity.”

Thompson said she is grounded in volunteerism, having been raised in “a family of service workers,” with a minister as a father and a mother who ran a nonprofit day care center. Her family spent holidays bringing food and gifts to people in need.

“You do what is needed without thought of what is possible [and] the outcome is its own reward,” Thompson said. “I have always wanted massage therapy to be available for all who need it, to meet the needs of those in pain and in need of healing touch.

“I have only helped advance the massage profession in integrative health care in two ways, through documentation and research,” she added. “There is so much more to be done.”

Thompson is also one of the authors of a document titled “Evidence-Informed Massage Therapy is an Integral Component in the Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits,” which has been presented to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner to advocate for massage therapy’s inclusion in the state’s health care exchanges as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

As of press time, MASSAGE Magazine‘s request for input on the status of that inclusion had not been responded to by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.