Thank you for taking the time to read my article in this month’s newsletter. I hope you are all keeping well. My name is Sophie Webster and I work as a Massage and Sensory Therapist for Brighter Futures for Children. Massage therapy offers a specialist service for children in Reading with a wide variety of needs.
As well as delivering massage therapy, I offer advice and support to children, parents/carers and professionals around the sensory system and support them in understanding a child’s individual sensory needs. I also deliver training to staff and parents on Sensory Processing, Sensory Circuits, Story Massage and Massage Techniques to use at Home.
Massage therapy is a buy back service which settings can book through Reading’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) website. To find the page on the SLA website please type in ‘Massage and Sensory Integration Therapy’ in the search bar. You can also read more on the Reading Services Guide here.
Describe a typical working day for you…
As a peripatetic worker, each day is different as I attend different schools on different days. Upon arrival at a school I set up the room; put up the massage table, get out the equipment and set up my laptop. I liaise a timetable with the appropriate member of staff before the sessions start and ensure I have written consent to deliver massage therapy to each student, as well as receiving a detailed referral form.
At the start of a session, I always spend a couple of minutes speaking with the student to find out how they are and how they have been. We then move onto some table top exercises, which focus on helping to improve fine and gross motor skills, bilateral skills and crossing the midline, which help towards improving hand writing. I may also assist the pupil in completing recommendations from other professional reports i.e. Occupational Therapy.
Hand massage follows, which is a calming technique and reduces stress and anxiety. Regular hand massage can also strengthen the hands which in turn can improve hand writing. Finally, there is an opportunity for a back and head massage on a massage table which is carried out through clothing using hands and massage tools.
Whilst working with children during massage therapy I assess the children’s sensory needs in order to write a pupil progress report which includes recommendations for home and school. I warmly invite parents/carers to attend a session with their child but ask that I work with the student for a couple of sessions to get to know them first.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Currently I am the only massage and sensory therapist in Reading and settings have limited budgets for the service. Therefore the only challenging part of my job is not being able to offer my services to all. I would love to be able to help everyone!
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working with and having the pleasure of supporting each child I meet. Every child I have supported throughout my 7 years in post have their own needs, meaning no two children are the same. They really make it a joy for me to go to work every day, with their individual personalities. If I am ever having a bad day, I can guarantee I will smile when working with the children I support.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background…
I have been in post for 7 years, starting as an apprentice after leaving school in 2013. I gained a distinction in a Holistic Massage Diploma and an NVQ Level 3 in Supporting and Teaching Learning in Schools. I have also attended many other training programmes to further my knowledge and support the students I am working with. I worked alongside a wonderful person called Susan Miller who developed massage therapy as an intervention over 20 years ago. She trained me and it is with great thanks to her that I am where I am today. Susan happily retired in April 2019 and since then I have adapted the service to work alone, as I am now the only massage therapist in post for this service. As far as I am aware, Reading is the only local authority which delivers massage therapy as an intervention. I am very proud to work for Brighter Futures for Children and feel it is a pleasure to deliver this unique service to settings and families of children and young people in Reading.
If you feel massage therapy is something your child or a child you are supporting would benefit from please do not hesitate to contact me.
- Email: Sophie.Webster@brighterfuturesforchildren.org
- Mobile: 07814622986