March 17, 2021 | Spotlight

Spotlight: Terese Marie Piscopo, BCTMB, LMT, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM)®

Please provide your full name, current location, and current job title.

Terese Marie Piscopo, BCTMB, LMT, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM) ®  Venice, Florida

Provide one fun fact about you.

I am mommy to a Sun Conure. (small parrot) I raised him from 5 weeks old and taught him to talk. He can now tell you his name is Sunny, but his first words were Gimme Kiss. Each morning, I am greeted with a boisterous Gimme Kiss followed by a gentle peck on the lips. In return, Sunny receives a mini head/neck massage. It’s an excellent way to start our day. Now 2 years old, he boasts a 20 word vocabulary. Sunny loves music and when he says “Dance-Dance” I turn on his favorite Beach Boys tunes and join in with his head bopping, wing flapping dance of delight!

What are your hobbies?

Healthy Cooking, Traveling, Hiking, communing with birds and nature and receiving therapeutic massage & bodywork

How did you discover the massage therapy profession?

After 17 years in the business world, I was proficient as Director of Sales and Marketing. Yet, found that climbing the corporate ladder of success was becoming very stressful and taking a toll on my body. Frequent travel was a major part of my job description. One day while driving to Newark NJ airport, only 25 miles from my home and usually a 2 hour trek on a good day, I noticed that I could not turn my head to the left to look out my side view mirror. It was the daily stress and strain that finally made me question my path. I took some time off in October 1990 and decided to go to the Outer Banks NC and learn the art of relaxation, because I had not a clue. I cleaned up my diet, started to exercise and began to receive massage. After a month of weekly massages and conversations with my massage therapist, Judy, I became interested in exploring the profession of massage. Judy informed me that the massage school in Virginia Beach, VA was having an open house the following weekend. I was eager to take this 2 hour drive and find out if becoming a massage therapist was for me.

The first person that greeted me at the open house happened to be a red headed woman. She took an early retirement after 20 years in manufacturing. She had enough of the daily grind and wanted to do something more personally satisfying with her life. She was now in her second month of classes and was never happier. I too am a red headed woman. Was the Universe mirroring a message to me?

The next person who welcomed me was a plain clothes Nun. She went to school to learn massage so she could be of service to the elder sisters/nuns in her Order. Wow, did my 12 years of Catholic school show through that much?  It was a day filled with courageous exchange stories from people happy to make a new start. I heard the gift of confirmation to become a massage therapist that day. I resigned from my job a week later and enrolled in the January 1991 massage class. It was a transformative time.

How did you develop your passion?

In July 1991, I graduated from the Harold J. Reilly School of Massotherapy, Virginia Beach VA. Today it is known as the Cayce/Reilly® School of Massage. My home residence was New York where I planned to practice massage. Since I went to an out of state school (myself and eight (8) other NY home based students) we needed to meet NY State education requirements that included 107 hours of Asian Theory. Thankfully, we found a Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® teacher from Tampa, FL whose program satisfied NY’s Asian Theory criteria. The NYS exam was only offered twice a year.

I registered for the August offering and after graduation, I took the exam and waited with hopeful anticipation for weeks to find out that I passed and got my NY License.  It only took a split second to realize I now wanted to live and practice in Virginia. I moved to VA in September 1991 and worked with an Osteopath Physician for five (5) years and established my own practice. I continued on with my JSD Studies, as it had become my passion.

I began to think about a teaching career and became a Registered Jin Shin Do® Acupressurist  in 1993 and an Authorized Jin Shin Do® Teacher in 1994 with the Jin Shin Do® Foundation (JSDF).  I was instrumental in bringing the full offering of JSD classes as a Continuing Ed Program to the Cayce Reilly® School of Massage.  This was accomplished by organizing and coordinating an ongoing teaching schedule with the school and by hosting other Senior JSD teachers.

Amazingly, NCBTMB announced their Approved Continuing Education Provider program. What perfect timing! I immediately called Iona Marsaa Teeguarden, director and founder of JSDF, and reviewed the NCBTMB mission and goals with her. We discussed the benefits it offered to both our organization as well as continuing education seekers. I encouraged her and she suggested I begin the application process ASAP.  It was submitted and Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® became one of the first NCBTMB Approved Continuing Education Providers. This relationship continues today.

How has your massage career evolved?

I spent thirteen years in Virginia Beach, in a successful private practice and teaching career. In between clients and classes, I kept busy promoting myself, Cayce Reilly® Massage and Jin Shin Do® Bodymind  Acupressure®.  From 1994 till 2000, I received an annual invitation to speak at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk VA to present Asian Theory and Acupressure to their incoming freshmen classes. This program was developed to introduce complementary forms of healing modalities to main stream medical practitioners. During this time frame, I also presented and taught to the Holistic Nursing Association in VA Beach.  I had written 2 articles for the Jin Shin Do® Foundation (JSDF) Newsletter and also an article for the Association of Research and Enlightenment’s In-House magazine “Venture Inward”. In addition, I was interviewed and participated in writing articles for a local Holistic Magazine.

Then in 2002, I was reminded of ancient Taoists wisdom, Everything Changes Except for the Fact that Everything Changes. 

The Tao brought full circle my childhood sweetheart, Ken. Not only were we reunited after 25years apart, we married in 2003 and I moved to Venice, Florida where my husband lived.  After obtaining the marriage license, I applied for my Florida Massage License. Unfortunately, Florida’s licensing procedure had very recently changed and found I gave them ample opportunity to practice their new procedure. Also during that time, the required ten (10) hour Florida Laws and Rules course was not available online and I waited months until it was offered by a Florida massage school. As Forest Gump might say “that’s all I am going to say about that.”  I finally received my license dated 1-21-04 to practice Massage Therapy in the State of Florida.

The one thing I will mention was the ease of sending my Official Score Report Request Form (tested before 8/1/02) to NCBTMB and their efficiency in getting the required information back to Tallahassee, FL to be placed  in my pending application file. On a fortuitous note, I found out that our realtor’s wife was an LMT and had a Massage Clinic in beautiful down town Venice. She offered me a part time room and my practice began. Over the past 16 years my office location changed and my practice has grown from part time seasonal to a year round schedule.

When did you first become NCBTMB Certified?

In 1992, the newly formed NCBTMB offered the first National Certification for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.  I was excited about the potential of such a credential. A short time after hearing the NCBTMB news, the USPS mail delivered information as to a date, time and site locations to take their first exam. Ugh…It was right smack into the middle of my already planned and paid for California vacation.  No worries, I simply registered to take the NCBTMB exam in the City by the Bay, San Francisco, CA. I took the day off from sightseeing and instead took the exam. After the finish bell rang, I handed in my exam and went directly to Fisherman’s Wharf for some delicious Crab Louie and onward vacation. Once back in Virginia, I waited with hopeful anticipation for weeks to find out that I passed as of August 7, 1992…Yippee!

Why did you elect to become NCBTMB Certified?

I believed that a national certification would help develop uniform standards throughout the USA and give more credibility to, as well as promote growth in our profession.  I also felt it would make available more pertinent information that could be accessed by the public in order to make educated choices for their massage and bodywork needs.

Why have you maintained your NCBTMB Certification all these years?

NCBMTB Certification reflects the importance and dedication I give to my work, our profession and client well-being.

How has NCBTMB Certification elevated your career?  What doors did it open for you?

It offered many opportunities throughout the USA.  I was able to teach in four (4) Virginia massage schools and traveled to teach JSD classes in various schools around the country.

It was an honor and exciting experience to be invited to Anchorage, Alaska and be their keynote speaker and teach the JSD Acupressure Facial at their 2001 Annual Alaska State Massage Therapy Conference.

Also, NCBTMB Certification had made it easy to obtain both my Virginia Certificate to Practice Massage Therapy (1997) now called a Virginia License and my Florida Massage Therapy State License.  As a side note, I keep current all my State licenses including New York.

What would you say to a fellow massage therapist contemplating Board Certification?

I would reference my professionally framed BCTMB Certificate as the highest credential that our profession offers. It opens up the critical conversation for client questions about my qualifications making them comfortable knowing they are seeking to work with a professional. It is a trust builder. This leads them to ask the question, “When is my next appointment?” That is why I display my BCTMB certificate in a very prominent place. Throughout my almost 30 year experience as a LMT, I can say for certain that my clients and potential clients want me to be the best I can be with the knowledge that I have their best interest in mind. NCBTMB Board Certification is the means to convey that message with confidence.

How has your practice and/or employment been affected by COVID-19?

Florida’s Governor DeSantis closed down all non essential business on March 20, 2020. On April 29, 2020, there was an executive order authorizing health care practitioners to return back to work. Where Florida Massage Therapists and Massage Establishments are licensed under the Florida Department of Health, it took some clarification time to conclude massage performed by a Licensed Massage Therapist is a health care service and yes, we were able to return to practice. I reopened in mid June. I started very slowly and made the decision not to accept new clients at this time. I have now reached about 15-20% schedule compared to last year at this time. I believe I will plateau here for a while. There are many factors to consider when reopening especially your clients. Keep in mind, not all clients are ready to come back. More importantly, I must consider clients underlying conditions, which may be at high risk and have that discussion.

If you are not working or unable to work during the pandemic, what are you doing during this time to prepare yourself for future work?

I am self employed and during shut down I made sure to touch base with my clients. They were very appreciative to hear a familiar voice, receive a “thinking of you” text or email and kept them in the reopening loop.

I prepared for reopening by following COVID-19 updates on the CDC, OSHA and FL Department of Health websites.  I was grateful to find The Federation of State and Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) – Guidelines for Practice with COVID-19 Considerations. I downloaded it, printed it off, used non glare sheet protectors and placed the 45 pages of everything you need to know about reopening into a binder. I read all the considerations, focused on what I needed to do and got to work. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll be able to reopen when it is time.

What would you suggest a fellow massage therapist do during this time to prepare for future success?

I would encourage taking advantage of free CE courses being offered online and webinars sponsored by AMTA, Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF), MTF/NCBTMB and in Florida the FSMTA.  Prior to COVID-19, I attained some CEUs in my area of interest and found the above offerings informative and satisfied particular categories like ethics, research and general topics including business and marketing, self-care and teaching.  If you did not have any CEUs before COVID-19, these websites also offer on line courses  and even AMTA/NCBTMB Certificate Programs at reasonable prices and if you are a member at a generous discount. I am happy and proud to say I used part of my shutdown time wisely and accomplished another Board Recertification and I have the picture to prove it!

To apply for Board Certification, click here.

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