Massage Therapy Education

Massage Therapy Education

You want to be a Massage Therapist. You know it… you feel it. You want to help people in pain, or who are stressed. You want to be the one person that your clients count on to help them stay mobile, and moving!

How do you find a school? A Program that will take you to where you need to be? What’s an Accredited Program?

Educational Requirements & How to Find Accredited Programs

Depending on Province, or State, the Educational Requirements can be anywhere from 0 hours of Education to 3300 Hours.

Even if your region requires 0 hours of education, you should still chase after it.

Why? Credibility is crucial! How can you possibly be of assistance to anyone if you don’t know the basics?

So what’s an Accredited Program and how do you find it? Associations!

Massage Therapists Associations are the key ingredient to finding these programs, and you do want to join them.

CANADA:

USA:

 

Why Belong to an Association?

Simply put, with the investment you’ve made into your Education, investing to belong to an Association, is the next, logical step. You are applying, and adhering to a set of standards. This gives clientele a confidence in you and your practice. (Even for those of you in areas with no education needed to practice, I encourage you to become certified, and join an Association).

 

With these memberships there are other benefits as well.

  • Many offer Medical Benefit Packages
  • Ability to bill third party insurance companies
  • MVA claims (Motor Vehicle Accident)
  • Discounted banking (for some)
  • Continuing Education Options
  • And my personal favorite… the ability to get to know others in the industry, and form lasting friendships and contacts.

 

I became a ‘Student Member’ of the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta in 1993, and a Full Member in 1997.

Why am I telling you this?

I want to share with you what I gained in the last 26+ years of being a Member!

I was fortunate enough to have established a couple of great relationships by 1993 with an Elite Group already within the Membership. Once I joined, I became part of the Association Planning Committee. We were the ones that set up Conventions, Speakers, and the PARTIES that would ensue!

After becoming a Full Member, my focus shifted for a few years, into building my Practice, but I was still involved… just a little less. I switched over to ‘Set Up & Tear Down’ after Conventions, as it took less time away from my clients.

I found, in these years, that something was missing. Going to Conventions wasn’t enough anymore. Somehow, I was talked into becoming part of The Executive!

My personal gain in this?

Mentors:

Without these 4 key people, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. They played such a HUGE roll in my development, and technique, that I’m sure save my body from physical burnout early on. These people also were a big part of my Business Development, and the different stages of growth.

The best advice I can give you, right now, is find a Mentor, or Mentors. Someone that will support you, and teach you as you move forward. If you can, start finding these key people as soon as possible!

Professional Alliances:

Too many times I have heard, “There’s a New Therapist in town. You have competition.”

I embrace competition. Competitors can become your greatest ally, and friend.

You now have someone you can exchange massages with, and share ideas with. (The ideas that my ‘massage buddy’ and I discuss, are things like: Education/ Modalities we have or, want to take, pricing & adjustments… and so on).

Someone you can refer others to. You’re busy, on vacation, or ill. You have the ability to tell your clients where they can go during these times. Or, they offer a technique, or modality that you don’t, and you feel that the client would benefit from this treatment.

Referrals for the Masses:

In getting to know others, from different areas, I was able to compile a list of ‘Preferred Therapists’ for my clients when travelling, moving, or their family members.

Clients will trust you, so when you refer them, or a family member, to someone in another city, they will place value in that, so choose wisely!

 

 

 

 

Association Benefits

 

I was fortunate enough to have established a couple of great relationships by 1993 with an Elite Group already within the Membership. Once I joined, I became part of the Association Planning Committee. We were the ones that set up Conventions, Speakers, and the PARTIES that would ensue!

After becoming a Full Member, my focus shifted for a few years, into building my Practice, but I was still involved… just a little less. I switched over to ‘Set Up & Tear Down’ after Conventions, as it took less time away from my clients.

I found, in these years, that something was missing. Going to Conventions wasn’t enough anymore. Somehow, I was talked into becoming part of The Executive!

My personal gain in this?

Mentors:

Without these 4 key people, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. They played such a HUGE roll in my development, and technique, that I’m sure save my body from physical burnout early on. These people also were a big part of my Business Development, and the different stages of growth.

Find a Mentor, or Mentors. Someone that will support you, and teach you as you move forward. If you can, start finding these key people as soon as possible!

Average Massage Therapist Income- Massage Academics

Average Massage Therapist Income- Massage Academics

This is the most common question I receive. What is the average Massage Therapist Income? There are many factors that involve the answer to this question. The basic answer I have found, for Canada and the US, is:

$12,000- $20,000+ per year part-time and

$30,000-$90,000+ per year full time.

So what determines the Salaries?

You and Your Education

The starting point to every profession. What has been the financial investment into your education? Time investment?

What modalities to you have training in?

You can charge different rates for different specialties. For example, I charge more for Hot Stone Therapy than I do Relaxation Massage. For each modality, and specific training, you can have a variety of rates.

How long have you been in the profession?

If you have just Graduated a Massage Program, chances are you will be making slightly less than someone who has been in practice for 10 years.

Demographic Region

Cost of living dictates rates all life factors. You have to make your pricing reasonable to your market. If you over price yourself, clients won’t be able to afford your services.

Salary Canada by Province

Salary US by State

Fee Strategy

  • Competitive pricing. What are other Therapists charging?
  • What is your market? Can you afford to charge $55 instead of $60 per hour? This is NOT a SALE price!
  • What do you offer? Ex: Do you offer third party billing?
  • What do you do different? Ex: Indian Head Massage, Hot Stone, or another specialty.

Remember the NEVER put yourself on Sale? Now here’s the ‘skirt around’ that issue.

Go that little extra mile: Go 5 mins more on the Massage. Add in a touch extra face, or head massage. That goes a long way with a client.

Pre-Paid Packages: Pay for X# of One Hour Massages, and receive the last one for free. This is not a sale price, this falls under ‘what do you offer’. I did these for a number of years, and the payoff was fantastic. (I still offer them, but only to my VIP clients now).

Do you have any ‘Specialty Equipment’ available to you? Like a Steamer or Sauna? If you do, offering a ‘Combo Package’ is a great way to add to the client experience. ( I added these links because, when I had a Full Service Spa, we had a Personal Steamer, and the clients LOVED it. InfraRed was still a fairly new, and expensive venture, and when I found these, I was super stoked! What a great add on!!

Canadian Link to InfraRed Sauna

USA Link to InfraRed Sauna

InfraRed Sauna For your Massage Clinic or Spa.  Great for Personal Use as well!!

 

SereneLife Portable InfraRed Sauna

Hours of Operation

What hours are you working? I’ve been fortunate, for many years, to be able to book according to my clients needs, and my schedule balance. Remember, when starting out, you shouldn’t be too choosy. Working evenings, and Saturdays can be quite beneficial to your income. Even after being in business for as long as I have been, I still work evenings, and some Saturdays. (Over the years, I have become picky about Saturdays. I reserve those spaces for my VIP clients only).

What are do you charge, and what region are you in? Let me Know! I’m Curious as to how accurate these charts are!

Have an AWESOME DAY

Shaunna

Business of Massage Therapy- Client Incentive Programs- Massage Academics

Business of Massage Therapy- Client Incentive Programs- Massage Academics

As I’ve told you, recently, to not put yourself ‘on sale’, we’re going to change it up a bit. You’re probably asking: How do I get clients? Let’s play with a few ideas!! I took a look at my old Business Plan, and have reshaped it to fit for the Profession to reflect today’s economy. We will be using $60 per hour as our baseline rate.

Client Incentive Programs

This is NOT being ‘on sale’, this is to promote you, and your Business… a standing out above the crowd approach. Some ideas that I will mention here, maybe repeated from previous posts, but that’s because I think they are worthy of consideration.

Prepaid Packages

You have to look at these as a contract with your client. They are prepaying you for services that they are yet to receive. They are taking a risk, and so are you. Before we get into what a Prepaid Package can look like, let’s set up some rules for them. Depending on the size of the Package, I would recommend that they have a ‘stale date’. (Not an expiration date… that’s another entity altogether). Stale Dates, are dates where you can no longer guarantee the price point. If the package isn’t used in its entirety by said date, you cannot guarantee the same rate. Generally I consider this a guideline. So, why do I have a ‘stale date’? You could, quite reasonably, have a package that’s ‘Open’ for 2+ years! If you have raised your rates by that time, a ‘stale date’ gives you the option to charge the difference. So how long should a Package be ‘Open’ before it ‘stale dates’? Depends on the package. As we go through a few ideas, I will give you some guidelines for those dates. (In my examples, I will be using $60 per hour as regular price). These are just examples, play with your pricing, and comfort zones. 1. Purchase a 10 Session Massage Package, and receive the 11 Massage for FREE!! (This package I generally leave open for a year). 2. Purchase a 6 Session Massage Package for $330!! (This one varies from 6 months, to a year, for ‘open’ dates). 3. Add On: For every 60-Minute Massage booked in (Month), receive a FREE 10 Min. Steam!! (Or a gift).

Referral Program

You can advertise this, or make it a quiet Thank You. Client A sends 5 of their friends to you, as a Thank You, you could give them a gift (bath salts, candle, bath bomb), 1/2 off Massage, or even a free Massage. It is best to acknowledge EVERY referral sent to you. A simple thank you goes a long way!

Holiday Specials

One Special we ran at The Spa, was Couple Massages for Valentines Day. Book a 60-Minute Massage for both of you for $110.00! Book a 60-Minute Massage for Your (??? Cupid / Sweety??), and they will get a Steam/ gift!! In some cases, if your treatment Rooms are large enough, it’s great to do the Massages together! (There has to be enough room for both tables, and 2 Therapists). This one went like hotcakes! What are your ideas here? What have you done? Do you need help to plan an Incentive Program? Let me know in the Comments!! Have a Beautiful Day!! Shaunna
Professional Alliances in Massage Therapy

Professional Alliances in Massage Therapy

Why are these important to my business? Who do I approach? How to I develop an Alliance?

Professional Alliances in Massage Therapy – The Why

By building professional alliances, your practice will flourish. Having a network with other Health Care, and Therapy Professionals will increase your market, and theirs.

Who

Assignment One

Your first assignment is to make a list of Health Professionals you already know. Your:

  • Chiropractor
  • Physio Therapist
  • Massage Therapist
  • Doctor
  • Dentist (yep… Dentist)
  • Lawyer
  • Chamber of Commerce Members

Then add to that list of the same Professionals, and others, within your area of work. (This list will expand as you go).

Assignment Two

Do a Bio Letter of Introduction. In this letter, you will want to include:

  • Where you went to school for Massage Therapy
  • Graduation date
  • Association
  • Specialties Certified in
  • Your goals for client treatment and care
  • How massage can benefit their patients or clients
  • Other professional History

Think of it as a Resume, but not a resume. You can add some personal information as to hobbies if you wish, but keep it pertinent to the person you are addressing, or the profession of Massage.

The Approach

There are 3 ways to approach others. Face to face, by phone, or by letter/email, or any combination of these.

The letter you wrote, can act as a ‘script’ to keep you on track with face to face, or phone approach as a bonus.

Because forming an Alliance is so beneficial, you will want to offer them something to get to know you and your work. With your introduction, you can offer them (a limited time) promotion. This isn’t a sale price, it’s a Promotional Offer.

Promotional Offers with a Future Alliance

  • A gift certificate for a free 30-minute massage
  • 20%-50% Off of Regular Price (I hear you now… but that’s a sale price)!!! Yes, and no. Put on the gift certificate that it’s a Professional Offer Only. Non-Transferable (that means they can’t give it to someone else).
  • Free Gift

Why do this? You want to promote yourself, and your talent. You want the Alliance.

Barter System

This is another approach to forming an Alliance. Especially with other Health Care Professionals.

By trading treatments, and services, not only do you get to know their style, and work, they get to know yours. It’s a win for both parties.

Referring to Others

NEVER be afraid to tell a client that a problem may be out of your scope of practice! Integrity is key here. A client will admire your honesty, and appreciate a referral to someone that can treat the issue.

Not long ago, I referred a long-time client to a Sports Massage Specialist. I can do ‘Sports Massage’, but this was a sports-related injury, and I’m NOT a Specialist in this modality. I am confident in my abilities, and I know when a client needs a different approach to an issue, so I refer them out. (The client did come back after the injury issue was resolved, complete with a Thank You, and recommendations from the other Therapist).

I have often referred to Chiropractic, or Physio Therapy, to be done instead, or in conjunction with Massage. When referring out, I do explain why. (I use Medical terms, with layman translation). Telling a client of your limitations will be a showing of your integrity, and honesty.

A client is more apt to refer a friend to you by saying,

“He/She helped ABC problem, but referred me to a Chiropractor for D, because of (yada yada). A very honest person, and a great Therapist!”

A quick, easy example of an introductory letter.

Your Name

Address, City, ST ZIP Code | Telephone | Email

Date

(Chiropractor/ Massage Therapist/ Physio Therapist)

Title

Company

Address

City, ST ZIP Code

Dear (Chiropractor/ Massage Therapist/ Physio Therapist):

I would like to take the time to introduce myself, as I am new to the area.

Professionally, I have 25 years of Massage Therapy experience, with specialties in Motor Vehicle Accidents, and soft tissue injuries.

The modalities that I incorporate into my treatments are as follows:

  • Relaxation & Deep Tissue Massage
  • Hot Stone Therapy
  • Cupping
  • Myofascial Release
  • Craniosacral
  • Assisted stretch techniques

I Graduate from X School of Massage in (year), and belong to (Association).

I would like the opportunity to connect with you, and your practice. Please accept this certificate as my way of saying Thank You for your time!

Sincerely,

ME

You don’t have to get fancy with it. Short, and to the point. You can use a template, but keep it simple. Too much clutter takes away from the content. If you have a Logo, do put that in.

How do you, or have you formed Alliances? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the Comments Section!!

Have a GREAT DAY!!

Shaunna

7 Years- Average Career Lifespan in Massage Therapy

7 Years- Average Career Lifespan in Massage Therapy

7 Years… the average career lifespan in the Massage Therapy Profession. Doesn’t seem that long does it? So why only 7? How did I manage to get 25+ years in?

Longevity Secrets

Balance. One would think that this is self-explanatory, and yet many of us struggle with it. I, personally, am guilty of the ‘gotta make hay while the sunshines’ regime. This attitude put me into ‘burnout’. The biggest curse of the Massage Therapist!

What is Burnout?

Massage Burnout

Massage Burnout

Burnout as defined in the dictionary is ‘the physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress’ or ‘fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity’. Not only is Massage a physically demanding profession, it can be mentally, and energetically grueling as well. We are physically using our body to release muscle tissue in another being. Hands, arms, legs, back… our whole body is involved, and if improperly cared for, physical breakdown/ injury can occur. Mentally and Energetically, we can become attached to our clients. While we do try to remain somewhat detached, it’s not always possible. This one person is our sole focus for 30-90(+) minutes! Even with boundaries in place this can, and will happen.

Avoiding Burnout

So what are the best ways to avoid this? In no particular order, here are a few key essentials: Self-Care. Get a massage, go to the Chiropractor, go to Physio. Do yoga, meditation. RELAX! Take time away from the treatment room. Eat Well. Eat healthy and often. Our bodies need food to survive, and the more we put out, the more we have to take in. Take the time to eat, or snack, and remember, protein is the bodies fuel!
Eat Healthy

Eat Healthy

Rest. Seems simple, but often we forget to rest. I’ve been known to even have a nap on certain days. To rejuvenate, the body need quiet time. A time of recovery, and the only way to do that is to rest. Get your Zzz’s in. Sleep!!
Rest and Recover

Rest and Recover

Keep up to Date. Keeping you Soap Notes, billing, and finances in order and up to date, will be a relief in the end. If your not, there’s a sense of panic when these items go out-of-date. We never see Burnout coming. It sneaks up, and catches us off guard, so best to circumvent it BEFORE it happens!

After Burnout

Can you recover from Burnout? Yes you can! I did, and I’ve seen others bounce back as well. How did we do it? I took 5 weeks off one summer. 2 weeks one month, back to work for 2-3 weeks, then 3 weeks off (I would’ve taken it all in one chunk, but I had other commitments as well). My clients completely understood. A colleague of mine, took 2 months off, and her clients were more than happy for her to go, recover, and come back. Neither one of us lost a single client over it. Many professionals take holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, and sabbaticals, so can you! Just use this wisely.
Vacation

VACATION!!!

What to tell Clients

Should you need to do something like this, you can tell them you are going on a Retreat, Course, or just taking some time away. Most will ask you if your OK, and in keeping within professional boundaries, the answer should be, “I’m great! Just time to get away for a bit”. (Or something along those lines). You don’t want your clients to know that your in ‘burnout mode’, this can lead people to making their own determination about your health, and stability professionally.

Giving Up

Many new Therapists give up too soon. Getting you name out can take time, and if your not working, your not earning. So many in our field leave it just as they’re about to ‘break through’ that first building block. Be prepared, even when going into an established clinic/spa. You will increase your clientele faster, and I personally, think it’s the best way to start, it will still take time though.
Pace and Plan

Pace and Plan

Pace Yourself

Work your way up. Make a plan. My original plan, way back, was: 1 Massage a day, then 2, and so on. And it worked! It took me a couple of years, but soon enough I was doing 3 a day, then 5 a day. (Marketing was very different, so this growth was amazing for the time). Decide how many a day/ week you want to do, and can do, avoiding Burnout. 3-4 per day 4 days a week is a pretty good income!   Here’s to a Long and Fulfilling Career!! Have an Awesome Day, Shaunna
Massage Therapy as an Alternative Medicine

Massage Therapy as an Alternative Medicine

MASSAGE THERAPY AS AN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

Massage therapy is a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of procedures, and methods, of pressing, kneading and manipulating muscles, and other soft body tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, skin, and connective tissues. The main objective of massage therapy is to relax the soft tissues while promoting an increased delivery of blood and oxygen to the areas being massages and, therefore, to decrease tightness and pain. Massage therapy is accomplished by utilizing the massage therapist’s fingers, hands, arms, elbows, hands/or feet. Occasionally, however, mechanical and electronic devices may also be used.

There are more than eighty official types of massage therapy treatments, but some of the most widely known are the following:

The Deep Tissue Massage. This technique uses a combination of strokes, and deep finger pressure applied way down under the skin and into the muscles at the painful sites to break up knots and loosen tightness.

The Trigger Point Massage. This procedure is also known as the Pressure Point Massage, and it is more focused on specific myofascial trigger points with a stronger force than the Deep Tissue Massage. The goal here is to dissolve the painful knots that were formed in the muscles as well as to relieve additional symptoms in more remote areas of the body.

The Swedish Massage. This system utilizes oblong, smooth strokes, kneading, and friction of the muscles as well as joint movement to increase their range of motion and flexibility.

The Shiatsu Massage. Using altering rhythmic pressure, tapping, squeezing and rubbing along the meridian and on various other parts of the body, the main objective of this Eastern massage therapy is to enhance the flow of fundamentally important energy called gi. And this energy, in the ancient Chinese medicine, is believed to be the life force that regulates a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wellness that is easily affected when subjected to the rival forces of yin and yang.

Massage and Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Treatment:
– For the most part, chiropractic focuses on the hard tissues such as the spine and other joints for adjusting and realignment. Chiropractors have some training in massage techniques, but that is never their first and foremost priority.
– Chiropractors are authorized to make a medical diagnosis, order x-rays or blood works.
– Chiropractors cannot prescribe conventional medications, but they can sell supplements or homeopathic remedies.
– Chiropractors do not need medical referrals to perform their work.

Massage Therapy:
– Massage therapists perform wonderful work on the soft body tissues such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments but, are not trained, nor are they licensed to, adjust the spine or any other joints.
– Massage therapists may not legally make a medical diagnosis, order x-rays, or any blood work.
– Massage therapists are not permitted to dispense medications of Western medicine, but they can and do provide or recommend alternative herbal remedies.
– Massage Therapists do not require referrals from anyone to conduct their massage sessions.

A recent study, in which more than 34,000 participants in the United States, were asked to rate which alternative treatments worked best for their two biggest health problems for the past two years. The overwhelming majority voted for deep tissue massage therapy and chiropractic therapy in equal measures for such conditions as back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, insomnia and prostate problems.

Whether the four most often practiced massage therapies I mentioned above are used as complementary alternative medicine (also known as CAM) or any one of the other recognized eighty which are available to a lesser or greater extent, there are important points to be considered:

• No massage therapy should ever be used in place of regular or ongoing medical care.

• Massage therapy should not be the cause or the excuse to postpone visiting a medical professional for existing medical issues.

• The massage therapist’s schooling and credentials must be verified, as well as his or her experience with specific health and medical conditions.
• Any additional complementary alternative medicine (CAM) such as herbs, supplements, special diets, or other treatments which are suggested by the massage therapist must first be reviewed with a medical professional.

• Although the subject of massage therapy (how it works and why) has been studied for many years and continues to study, much of it remains within the realm of a mystery.

• If and when massage therapy is performed by a well training and experienced professional, few risks are involved, and the worst of them may be temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling or an allergic reaction to the massage oils. The small number of serious injuries which have been reported were triggered by untrained hands that were not aware that certain medical conditions should not be massaged. It is, therefore, essential to consult a medical professional before undergoing massage therapy, particularly under the following circumstances:

 Deep vein thrombosis
 A bleeding disorder or when taking blood thinners
 Damaged blood vessels
 Weakened bones from osteoporosis, a recent fracture or cancer
 The presence of high body temperature
 Open or healing wounds, tumors, damaged nerves, an infection, severe inflammation or fragile skin
 Pregnancy
 Heart problems
 Dermatomyositis or any other skin disease

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