Massage Therapy/Therapeutic Massage
About the Massage Therapy Major
Renowned massage therapist Jack Meagher once said, "Massage is the study of anatomy in braille." Indeed, when massage therapists treat their patients, they rely on touch, medical knowledge, and instinct to successfully alleviate patient conditions and illnesses that they cannot necessarily see. Massage therapy is a branch of healthcare that uses a variety of manual techniques, called modalities, to treat illnesses and injuries, relieve pain and stress, and improve general well-being.
Most massage therapy programs involve 500 - 1,000 hours of study and practice. Along with regular classroom instruction, clinical experiences and lots of hands-on practice are a substantial part of the curriculum. Typical college courses include anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, ethics, and the different techniques of massage, called modalities. Classes in marketing and business will come in handy if you decide to work as a freelance massage therapist in the future.
As a massage therapy major, you must be prepared to practice techniques with other students and test subjects, and be comfortable with partial nudity and the many differences in the human body from person to person. You must also be empathetic and be able to remain professional when working closely with another person in an intimate, one-on-one setting. You should be physically fit and/or take classes in physical education so you will have the stamina and strength needed to do the physical work required of a massage therapist.
There are over 200 modalities (acupuncture, deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, acupressure, etc.), and many massage therapists choose to specialize in several of them. In fact, you will continue to learn new techniques long after you graduate from college. If you want to study a specific modality, check with the schools that interest you before applying to see what they offer instruction in.
Before you complete your degree, you should research the requirements needed to practice in the state in which you plan to work. Many states require massage therapists to be licensed before they can begin practicing.
As a massage therapist, you will be able to work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, private practices, private residences, gyms, sports clubs, and spas, or you could even own your own business one day.