Sunday, March 30, 2008

The road to massage...Part 1

In October 2007, I qualified as a holistic massage therapist, taking about 10 months to simultaneously complete the BTEC Professional Diploma Course in Holistic Massage Practice and the ITEC Diploma Course in Holistic Massage part time, at Essentials for Health.

I'd never actually set out to become a massage therapist, but after I did a Reiki course a couple of years ago, I felt like I needed to learn more about the human body. And so began my exciting and formal journey into holistic therapies.
I researched various schools and options, and decided that a massage course which included studies in Anatomy and Physiology would give me a solid grounding for Reiki and any other related modalities going forward. I eventually chose Essentials for Health, one of the UK's leading massage schools. I did their 1-day Massage Magic workshop to check out the school and its teachers, and loved it! I enrolled virtually straight away in the next diploma course.

I also liked that EfH ran their courses on weekends, and that they offered both the ITEC and BTEC qualifications. The BTEC Professional Course remains the highest level of massage course offered in the UK, and is the equivalent of an NVQ level 4 qualification. That said, the ITEC qualification is currently more widely known throughout the UK and internationally, so it was great that EfH taught both curriculums via the same course material.

The first weekend rolled around, and I remember wondering WHAT I'd gotten myself into. We were shown massage couches and various oils and the teachers were referring to body parts I didn't even know I possessed!

That first weekend, I also met a wonderful bunch of keen, newbie students like myself, who had come from all over the country (and world) and from all walks of life. Some people had already decided that massage was what they wanted to do full time, others were in full time jobs they were bored with and wanted to escape from, and yet others simply wanted to learn how to do massage properly, so they could treat their family and friends. We met our teachers too – fantastic massage therapists with oodles of patience and humour.

The weekends rolled by, usually following a format of one day of massage practice and one day of anatomy and physiology. We learnt how to effleurage (and how to spell it) and knead and percuss and apply friction - all part of an entirely new vocabulary. In the A&P classes, we delved into the structure of cells and the contents of blood, and all the while, I was thinking that I could get by with knowing that the knee bone was connected to the shin bone. Apparently not!

We were told we needed to log at least 100 hours of massage practice outside of the course before we sat for our exams. Although you might think it would be easy to give away free massages, the logistics of arranging massage sessions with mates in between busy jobs and social lives became a major challenge!

Then came the case studies – where we needed to do 2-hour full body massages on 6 different people, for 4 weeks in a row. We were required to write up full case notes describing our client’s lifestyle, what they required from each massage and what the results of each massage were. I reckon I spent as much time writing up those beloved case studies, as I spent doing the actual massages!

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