October 3, 2022

Clear skies. Low near 65F. Winds light and variable..
Clear skies. Low near 65F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: August 31, 2022 @ 10:43 pm
Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork officially opened their doors Aug. 1. From left are co-owners Kevin Morgan-Shaffer, Sarah Howell and Bradlee Morgan-Shaffer. Howell holds a plant gifted by a client.
In the evening on Aug. 17, one of four treatment rooms at Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork was open to viewing, which had relaxing, deep gray walls, dim light and a bed with crisp white sheets. The doors have black tinted glass, a must, co-owner Bradlee Morgan-Shaffer said.
A rainbow brick sits on the front desk, signaling Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork as an LGBTQ+ friendly business.
Staff Reporter
Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork officially opened their doors Aug. 1. From left are co-owners Kevin Morgan-Shaffer, Sarah Howell and Bradlee Morgan-Shaffer. Howell holds a plant gifted by a client.
CUMMING, Ga. — Massage is often seen as a spa ordeal, a luxury, a superfluous form of self-care. To the three owners of Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork, massage therapy is health care.
Bradlee Morgan-Shaffer, his husband Kevin, and Sarah Howell are all licensed massage therapists and value a holistic, client-centered approach. Using the myriad techniques they’ve learned, they select what’s appropriate and fashion them into a unique and dynamic plan of care for clients.
Bradlee said he collaborates with his co-workers on what diagnoses is best suited for his clients, asking himself about the potential pathologies first. If Sixth Sense staff can’t come to any conclusions on their own, they refer out to other experts.
After acquiring all the necessary business licenses in late July of this year, Sixth Sense officially opened Aug. 1. The owners obtained required licensing by July 17, to be exact, which is a special date for Bradlee. Last year, coincidentally on the same day, he ran a poll on different logo options. The year before that he, also coincidentally, ran a poll on business names. Sixth Sense has been in the works for a while.
“I feel like everything aligns whenever it’s supposed to,” Bradlee said.
In the evening on Aug. 17, one of four treatment rooms at Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork was open to viewing, which had relaxing, deep gray walls, dim light and a bed with crisp white sheets. The doors have black tinted glass, a must, co-owner Bradlee Morgan-Shaffer said.
Things fell into place, but not without what seemed to be an uphill battle for Sixth Sense, whether that was funding, an abundance of red tape or misconceptions about massage therapy.
Massage therapists are still lobbying to be recognized, Bradlee said. Therapists have had the option to obtain National Identifier Numbers (NPI) since 2007, a number that allows health care providers to receive insurance payments, thus opening the door for more clients.
Yet, there’s still grief.
“Right now, there’s a very small number of insurance companies that actually view massage therapy as a medical practice,” Kevin said.
Even with NPIs, Sixth Sense is fighting hard for clients to eventually use insurance as payment.
At Sixth Sense, massage therapy is more than just massage itself. Staff incorporates other strategies to expand means of care, which involves the initial in-depth conversation, assessment, plan of care and reassessments after each session. On average, the plan of care will contain 5-7 sessions. But that range could be more or less, depending on the individual.
“The plan of care is a map,” Bradlee said. “You can take the scenic route, or you can take direct A to B. I have some clients that are going directly from A to B, and they are seeing results.”
A big part of massage therapy is holding space for clients, Bradlee said.
“Some just need to come in and decompress,” he said. “Then there’s other times when I have clients that talk to relax.”
With some clients, conversation is necessary for more “involved” therapeutic work, he said. With this kind of work, therapists will place their hands somewhere on the body and ask the client how the placement feels.
“The body tells on you,” Bradlee said.
Coliene Belle is one of Bradlee’s clients. Her job as a photographer has added to lower back pain. In the few sessions that she’s had, pain has substantially subsided, she said. Belle talked about the conversation Bradlee has had with her when targeting pain areas, how he was able to make the experience feel personal and not clinical.
“It’s lovely to be in an environment where it does feel incredibly medical and physical therapy-ish,” she said. “But at the same time, you’re still getting a massage. It’s really the best of both worlds.”
Sometimes, massage therapy can involve something as simple, but as important, as breathing.
“I will have clients do breathing with me to get them into more of a meditative state,” Howell said. “That alone can just let the whole body kind of relax. You can get into really deep tissues that way.”
Each therapist has their own strengths, whether it be Bradlee’s focus on intuition and the spiritual, energetic underpinnings of massage, Kevin’s preference for deep tissue work and increasing range of motion or Howell’s knack for tailoring to clients, using knowledge developed over her eight years of massage therapy experience.
But Bradlee stressed Sixth Sense as a collective mind.
“Whenever you get one therapist here, you don’t get one therapist — you get all of them.”
A rainbow brick sits on the front desk, signaling Sixth Sense Massage & Bodywork as an LGBTQ+ friendly business.
Sixth Sense staff are always learning from each other, bouncing off ideas, but also actively seeking knowledge elsewhere to hone their craft. Outside of taking classes to renew her license every couple of years, Howell just earned her certification in traditional Thai massage and orthopedic manual therapy.
She will also offer one-on-one yoga classes at the studio.
Though expertise and intuition facilitate healing at Sixth Sense, passion for the work is foundational.
And that passion to help people was clearly visible when speaking to the crew. After asking Howell about her motivation for doing this kind of work, she held back tears.
“I see how you can change someone’s life in not just a physical way, but even mentally or emotionally,” she said. “I saw COVID as the entire world grieving at the same time, which was heavy. And I think that we need touch more than ever — healthy touch, consensual touch.”
She continued.
“I got into it because it was just so amazing to see someone light up and be a beacon in the world, to be empowered in their body.”
Sixth Sense is open Sunday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To book an appointment, call (678) 341-0384 or go online at https://sixthsensemassage.com/
Reach Amber Perry at 770-847-8334. Follow her on Twitter @ambermarieperry
Staff Reporter
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