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 a 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