Massage Therapist

 

What Is A Massage Therapist?

I’m often asked, “What exactly does it take to become a massage therapist?” The answer to that question varies, depending on what state you live in. Here in New Hampshire where I practice, state law requires applicants to graduate from an accredited massage school offering a 750 hour curiculum. State law mandates how many classroom hours students spend on each of the required subjects. Anatomy &  physiology, pathology, ethics and various massage techniques are typically studied. 150 hours are supervised practice massage. Practice hours are usually spent in an externship at an established clinic or spa, or at a school sponsered clinic. A licensed massage therapist must be present for the practice hours to count. After earning your certificate from school, you are elligable to take the state licensing exam. If you pass the exam, you get a license. When I took the exam in 1992, applicants also had to perform a practicum exam in addition to the written exam. Lugging massage table, linen, oil, bolster and client, we had an hour to set up, take a brief health history of our client, give a full body massage that included the five basic massage strokes(effluerage, pettrisage, tapotement, friction, vibration),  break down the massage table and clean up, all while being observed by state massage board members. The practicum part of the exam was eliminated several years ago. I don’t understand why it was eliminated. It seems to me that hands on skills are an integral part of being an effective massage therapist and should be considered when deciding if applicants should be granted a license to practice. License renewal is every two years, and requires at least 12 ceu’s and, of course, a fee.

In my opinion, current state requirements are failing massage students. Seven hundred fifty hours of training is not adequate to prepare students to effectively address the problems clients present with. I proved this when I taught massage. When I agreed to teach the course, I had visions of producing top-notch massage therapists, ready to take on whatever challenges were brought their way. And even though I gave my students almost everything I had learned over the years,  750 hours is simply not enough time to process and absorb the information. A two year, associate degree program would much better serve the massage student, giving him/her a second year of training and practice. If massage therapists want to be taken seriously by other health professionals,  if they want to gain credibility in the medical community,  we must prove ourselves by becoming better educated, better prepared, and more effective. Massage schools will increase curriculum hours only when mandated  to do so by the state. They are, after all, for- profit businesses in a competitive industry.

Aside from the education requirements and state licensing, becoming a massage therapist requires certain character traits. Most important are compassion and a desire to help others. We are all navigating our way through this life. We all face challenges. If we do not help each other, who will help us? Some have asked me how I can bear to touch people. For me, touching people is what it’s all about. Massage therapy is a tool used to reach people on more than just a physical level. Our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves are all one person. Whatever effects any part of us, effects all parts of us. A good therapist should be able to deal with people’s problems, and not have that affect their own balance.

try to write 600 words, or 300 at a minimum…

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