What Do I do AFTER Massage School?
When you went to massage school, you were trained by a specialist. How do you know what you are trained to do? What does your training mean? How do we discuss what we do? If you were not trained by a specialist – trained in the general sense – you may not be able to speak specifically enough about your work to call it “specialized.
Massage school may or may not be what you expected it to be. Most school owners and instructors are specialists, meaning: they have taken their basic training and focused the development on their practice in one or two techniques or modality areas. I had an instructor named Jon Heart. He was one of the major influences in my practice when I graduated. He is an amazing deep tissue massage instructor; however, he did not make me into a well-rounded therapist. Most of us did not expect to practice in the professional world exactly what we learned in massage school. But after we get done with our massage programs, can we say what it was all about?
Most of us graduated from massage school and we started looking for job. Many of us took the first job that came along. The location at which we are employed does not necessarily mean we are “a Spa Massage Therapist”. I work at a spa and a massage clinic. I can talk about Kinesiology in either setting, and I build my client base in both settings. The best way to look at what you do is not based solely on the location of your practice: look into what specialty you enjoy and will continue to study in the profession.
Massage school is just the beginning; however, at the end of your training, you need to ask yourself “What does my training mean?” The biggest challenge in teaching is effectively communicating how and what to study. If you had a teacher who pushed you to look at specific topics you would find out the answers s/he is looking for. Hopefully, you also applied some of the information and started thinking logically about the concepts being presented. If you were never introduced to ideas, you probably wouldn’t have expanded your knowledge of the subject. I can see several categories of massage therapist that initially produce a type of trained massage therapist in our field. Below are the categories I am suggesting to the profession for training.
A classically-trained massage therapist graduates with entry level knowledge and performance. These types of massage therapists can also advance in classical training by expanding their knowledge of Swedish techniques. These basic skills are where a massage therapist with a minimum of 500 classroom hours in massage school will most likely graduate. If you are a classically-trained therapist, that does not mean you cannot change your practice, it just means you need more education/experience to become additionally specialized. I would say many massage school graduates come out classically-trained and start working for an employer that does not require more. If this is your passion, embrace it and love the wonderful work you will continue to do. You will change many people’s lives and make many people happy.
Hints: You most likely have a routine or standard massage that works well for you and is very patterned. You ask about medications and injuries to avoid contraindications and provide a safe massage experience. You usually refer to strokes and their therapeutic benefits to explain why massage is good for your clients.
A clinically-trained therapist usually looks at the physical status of the client before making a treatment plan. This includes any number of pathologies, ranging from a sprained toe to many forms of cancer. Most clinically-trained massage therapists do not start this way. Being specialized in this sense requires advanced training, beyond classical training, that prepares you for application of a specific technique for a specific condition. I believe one of the biggest things that sets these therapists apart from classically-trained therapists is their willingness to work with clients who are in many different stages of illness, from the athlete to the hospice patient: each client is very unique.
Hints: You ask your clients what issues they are having so you can focus on it. You want a complete health history to make sure there are no medication or systemic or specific health issues you may need to consider. The bigger the health issue, the more excited you get to see what you can do for the client. You usually work in collaboration with or actually inside a medical facility (doctor, doctor’s office, hospital, pain management clinic, rehabilitation facility, etc).
Spa- or Service-Trained:
A spa- or service-trained therapist will be most successful if they study sales, product placement and the art of ambiance – customer service is a high priority. All therapists need to be able to sell their services or they will not have a strong business or strong support for their employer’s business. Service training will give you the ability to expand on your business. Many massage therapists who worked as waiters or waitresses while in school received this training as they prepared for their profession. Just because you are a good massage therapist does not make you a good salesperson and vice versa. Product knowledge and research are key to this profession.
Hints: You want to know what is in everything: all your products, all your supplies, and how to maximize the client’s benefit with the most skill. This usually includes specialty in hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, skin applications, and advanced customer communication skills. You ask about pathology so you can see if there will be any reactions to the products you regularly use.
Energetic training for a therapist can be quite rigorous. Some therapists have this information come naturally to them. Others are advanced practitioners of the quantum realm. From Reiki Masters to quantum healers, this training includes more than just touch. Some specialists can operate without touch, however, to keep it in the profession of massage therapy (not of Bodywork, as well) we categorize only therapists that use hands-on techniques or use the other only in conjunction with hands-on work.
Hints: You usually look to something outside the musculature for cause and effect. You want to know more than just what activity they have been doing, but sometimes how they feel about doing it. You ask about health history to see what the effects maybe by changing the energetic body to help.
Combining these Training types can give you a specialty that many others may not have. However, if you are mediocre at practicing or applying many of these types together, in one practice or service menu, it is going to be tough to stand out and be successful in any one of them. Remember: if you do what you love and love what you do, you will find a reason to be successful. Massages can rarely feel like an hour when you go beyond your massage school program: reach out to the specialty that interests you at this point in your career – integrate new techniques and modalities that help you put your practice in a class of its own.
To improve your training I would suggest the following online courses provided by www.MassageWarehouse.com
Nathan J. Nordstrom LMT LMP BCMT
P.O. Box 329
Oakesdale, Washington 99158
At MassageWarehouse.com, massage therapist enjoy a one-stop shop for professional quality massage products at the lowest prices available. Rely on Massage Warehouse massage therapy supply, massage tables and spa equipment needs.