The most important person behind massage is the massage therapist. Highly trained and specialized in the art of healing and massage, they provide relief to clients all over the world. However, a therapist must learn many techniques in order to excel in this profession. The role of the massage therapist begins with the right training.
Massage therapy careers are in high demand. Graduates choose either to work for someone else or themselves. Training as a massage therapist requires finding the right program. In the current market, the number of employers such as spas and massage chains is increasing, however, over half of practicing massage therapists are self employed. A qualified school teaches the student everything from anatomy and physiology to bodywork and business sense.
The student needs to bring empathy, excellent communication skills, trust, and understanding to the program. Clients are putting their bodies in the hands of someone else and having these qualities are extremely important. This separates the person who just wants a job from a person who is a qualified professional.
Empathy means putting one’s self in the place of another and identifying with that person. Clients who are experiencing immense pain want someone to understand and provide the much needed relief they seek. A professional massage therapist will be this and a lot more.
Communication is the one thing many people lack. Learning to communicate effectively eliminates problems, thus insuring that a client will return for services. Listen to what the client wants and fulfill that want. A professional massage therapist will put the client’s needs first and sense what the client is feeling. Sometimes clients will not say what they want; they assume the massage therapist will know this. This can make the experience more challenging for the therapist, but a good therapist can hear a lot from the client’s body itself. For example, if the pressure is too much, the client will tense or tighten up. Even if the client is unable or unwilling to communicate their pain sensations to the therapist, a good therapist will be able to read the other signals and get the message.
It takes a great deal of trust on the behalf of the client when putting their bodies in a stranger’s hands. A massage therapist should know how to ease the client’s mind without breaking that trust. Conducting yourself professionally will help build a trusting relationship between the client and the therapist.
Massaging someone is personal. The therapist becomes close to clients and some may even tell the therapist personal things. The role of the massage therapist goes beyond bodywork. They become confidents and friends with the people they take care of. It is important to remember that client information is confidential, and must always remain as such.
Companies that hire massage therapist are:
1. Health Clubs
2. Chiropractic and Medical offices
3. Rehabilitation Centers
4. Spa and Vacation Resorts
5. Sports Medicine Clinics
6. Massage therapy chain clinics
Since it allows more flexibility, therapists may choose to work for themselves. This results in a felxib;e schedule that revolves around the client. Clients who work during the day require treatment in the evening and vice versa. A one hour evening session can earn a lot more than working eight hours a day at a regular job. However, building up a clientele takes time. If the massage therapist is willing to commit to marketing themselves, their business will boom.
When first entering the massage therapy workforce, it often makes sense for therapists to begin their career in an already operational massage business, such as a spa. This allows time for the therapist to grow a client base. Once a therapist has regular clients, it is easier and less risky to begin their own business.
A massage therapist who wants to succeed will learn everything possible about the craft. They will not limit themselves to just one art. With all the various clients seeking a professional to assist them, it would be in their best interest to study and perfect many techniques. The more they know, the more money they make. Continuing education is also important, and is a requirement of some licensing bodies. This involves the therapist continuing to stay abreast of new research and development s in both massage therapy, and medical issues. Often the licensing body will require documentation of the continued education in the form of a diary or through the collection of certificates.
Therapists also need to become confident business persons. Many schools offer a business course as part of their curriculum, and for therapists wishing to be self-employed; this type of training is a must. Creating a solid business plan helps therapists plan their business from start to success. A business plan is a written summary of your business goals, plans and strategies. Other aspects of business knowledge include marketing, pricing, running specials, advertising and much more. Further considerations must include consideration of insurance and licensure nedded to perform massage safely. Massage therapy is increasing in popularity, and this has changed the massage market accordingly. Some marketing tips, according to R. Chute in the July/August 2009 Massage & Bodywork Magazine include:
- Marketing yourself to your existing clients by asking them to help promote your name as a massage therapist.
- Follow up on clients that you have seen through a phone call, email or letter.
- Hold an open house to introduce potential new clients to your space, yourself and what you have to offer.
- Diversify your skills to ensure that you have something to offer that clients want.
- Volunteer your skills when you can to help you network.
Wages vary from state to state. One professional may take home as low as $8.00 an hour, while others may command as much as $30.00 an hour.
According to the National Employment Matrix, the average hourly wage for massage therapists, including gratuities was $16.78 in May of 2008. The lowest earning was $8.01, comprised of the lowest 10 percent of therapists. The middle of the group earned between $11.36 and $25.14, while the top 10 percent were at $33.47 an hour.
The type of work environment will influence wages as well. A massage therapist who works in a hospital could make less than a therapist who works in a high-end spa. Professionals who freelance make very good money. The only problems are running a successful business, paying taxes and not having any employer healthcare benefits.
Credentials and Licensing
Credentials are important in acknowledging a career in massage. This is a list of required certifications and licenses needed:
• LMT or Licensed Massage Therapist
• LMP or Licensed Massage Practitioner
• CMT or Certified Massage Therapist
• NCTMB requires meeting and passing the certification exam by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork in order to practice therapeutic massage and bodywork.
• NCTM requires meeting and passing the certification exam given by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage in order to practice therapeutic massage.
Many other skills, such as specialty massage techniques are represented by letter credentials following the therapist’s name. These help identify the therapist as a person that has taken the appropriate education, and allows them to profess their skills in certain areas. For example,
Knowledge and Education
A massage therapist is essentially a healer of the body and mind. They provide an invaluable service to clients who seek out comfort, healing, pain relief and relaxation. The role of the massage therapist has existed for over 5000 years. As centuries passed, the role has changed and evolved into much more than when it first began.
Oriental massage requires the therapist to use pressure point techniques designed in releasing stress and relaxing the body. Therapists need intense training to perform this massage well. A short list of specialties performed by the massage therapist:
• Tui Na
• Thai Massage
Designed to strengthen the body by healing or repairing damaged tissue, rehabilitative massage is an excellent choice for massage therapists. They assist clients/patients with regaining mobility and range of motion. A short list of rehabilitation areas for massage therapists:
Chiropractic Clinics and Offices
-rehabilitation or physiotherapy centers
The massage therapist applies scents, oils, deep muscle massage, and music to put the client into a relaxed state. This is called relaxation massage because the professional uses slow, circular movements on the affected area. The therapist soothes tired and aching muscles by gently kneading out knots and stress.
Therapeutic massage requires the massage therapist to use healing and purification methods. They are:
• Deep tissue massage
• Facial massage
• Lymphatic massage
Key Role in Massage
Massage therapists spend hours of extensive training to learn the art of massage. Anatomy and physiology are main aspects in this training. Also useful are courses in pathology and orthopedic assessment. Without first understanding how the human body functions, the therapist cannot apply any techniques. Every technique requires skill and precision. Each area of the body is sensitive and the therapist needs to know exactly how to massage the area without causing damage.
The key role of the massage therapist is to apply all knowledge of the profession. Clients seek out professional relaxation because they cannot do it themselves. A massage therapist’s job is to attempt to relieve pain and promote relaxation and function for their clients