Why Become A Massage Therapist? “To Help People”
How Massage Therapy Students Learn to Help Others…
by Leslie Byrd LMT, CHAI graduate & contributing author to the CHAI Massage Blog.
Ask almost any massage therapy student why they want to become a professional licensed massage therapist, or what motivated them to enroll in massage certification courses, and you will inevitably hear most of them say: “to help people.”
But what does “helping people” mean?
While this is the answer most students will give when they first enroll, only a few will understand the complexities of what this may mean. Most will know that massage therapy can help clients to “feel good” and to relax. But unless the student had already at least some previous experience with massage therapy, or knows someone who has, they may not yet grasp all that “helping people” within this profession can entail. Within and aside from the standard Swedish relaxation massage there are various ways in which a massage therapist may assist their clients.
Therapeutic Change – Decreasing discomfort and tightness, increasing Range of Motion (ROM), reducing swelling, aiding in the flow of circulation. Therapeutic change within massage therapy can mean the ability for a client to feel better over time, gain increased mobility, live with less pain, and more. Massage therapists who are both skilled and knowledgeable regarding their clients’ conditions and the effects and possibilities available through massage. The therapist can work to build the client’s confidence that they can feel better, return to work, and even be able to do something they could not do before or have never tried. At a massage therapist’s recommendation, a client may take up yoga, explore better nutrition, or begin other forms of self-care that, in addition to massage, may potentially open new possibilities to them. These therapeutic changes can be isolated to a specific muscle group or area of the body, or they may be a holistic change – affecting a client’s physical, emotional, and mental conditions.
Client Education – Learning more about their body and how it functions and bringing about body awareness. Recommending stretches and other treatments for self-care and sharing resources that may be of benefit to the client. A good massage therapist shares this information with their clients to enhance the therapy provided. Clients may walk away from a session understanding better how their muscles work, the ways in which their jobs, active daily life, past injuries, posture and more can affect how their muscles work and different treatment options that may get them to moving and feeling better.
Condition Management – Some conditions are long term or life-long chronic circumstances from which the client may never be able to completely recover. In these cases, massage therapy may help the client to reduce symptoms and better manage their everyday life, by reducing tightness and discomfort, decreasing stress, increasing mobility, and aiding in relaxation. Often in condition management, massage therapy can be seen as an important aspect of the client’s self-care, reducing their symptoms and improving their outlook on living with their condition(s).
Support – A listening ear. A feeling of understanding. While massage therapists are by no means a psychiatrist or psychologist, being in such an intimate atmosphere and facilitating an ambiance of comfort and relaxation within a session, can sometimes lend itself to providing an environment where a client feels at ease discussing personal issues. This dialogue may focus solely on the client’s discomfort or restrictions which the massage session is concentrating on, or the topics may delve into the more personal mental and emotional aspects of the client’s life. Although the massage therapist is not qualified to offer advice, just knowing that someone is hearing them is enough for some clients to find a more holistic healing.
The idea of helping clients can carry different meanings and lead to different specialties, areas of focus, career paths, and treatment options available from student to student, therapist to therapist. Being educated regarding the many circumstances and possible situations within the field can assist the massage therapy student with creating a more client-focused practice following their graduation and licensing.
If you are interested in helping others through massage therapy, take a look at our Massage Therapy Certification Program.
If you’d like to schedule a Student Clinic Massage, check availability and schedule your session.