So what exactly is massage education? I began teaching in the industry in 1993 at the Utah College of Massage Therapy. The classroom size was anywhere from 24 to 48 people, and the instructors were highly qualified. The students got a great basic education and if they decided to stick around for an additional 300 hours or 400 hours, they left with a pretty darn good massage education. I was the deep tissue instructor there for three years, I passed on the savvy of Dr. Ida Rolf. In 10 sessions I taught them as much as I possibly could in that brief period of time and gave them a basic understanding of the work. As the deep tissue instructor, I realized that there was a huge misnomer about the work. For some unknown reason, people that come for massage education or continuing education think that deep tissue means continual deep pressure. Unfortunately, this is not true. Deep tissue work should access deep layers, but their tools should not always be angled steeply. Accessing the deep tissue first requires that the student use superficial angles to free fascia that is above the deeper layers. Yes, we work the origins and insertions and ischemic tissue. Oftentimes this creates a brief painful response in the patient. But, can this also be called energy healing? Of course, any time two biodynamic systems dance, there is an exchange of energy. Energy healing is nothing more than the transference of energy from one to another.
Massage continuing education begins after the student’s foundation has been built. Continuing education in the massage field leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. A massage education should give a student a wonderful set of tools to begin their journey as apprentices, so to speak. I know that this may feel a little bit callous, but in over two decades of work, having taught in three massage schools and having taught privately for 15 years, I do believe that there is room for improvement in the massage education field. A massage continuing education should give a student definitive tools in which to be successful in their chosen field, not just to satisfy some inane state requirements. Unfortunately, the majority of the massage therapist that I know, take continuing education only because they have to fulfill State requirements for licensure. If the student focused on a deep tissue therapy such as Rolfing or neuromuscular therapy, and they took the time that was necessary to master these deep tissue approaches to healing, they would more than likely be successful as massage therapists.
One of the most powerful disciplines in massage education that a student can learn is cranial sacral therapy. Sometimes this is also spelled craniosacral therapy. Please don’t be confused by the spelling. Its the same brilliant work. Massage education should fulfill the needs of the students desire to be successful in their chosen field. It’s important when considering massage therapy education that the student understand that the more information, (which is time at their massage tables) that a student puts into their study, the deeper they will understand their discipline and its applications. So the focus of continuing education should be a deepening focus from the many disciplines that are available in our field. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that your primary education at the first massage school that you attended would be enough for you to be successful as a massage therapist. A massage education doesn’t stop at your primary school, it continues throughout your career with the tools and insights that are gained through continuing education.