Dear ZMC Graduates,
It gives me great pleasure to be among the first to congratulate you for your success in completing the 900-hour Professional Massage Therapy Program at Zion Massage College. Throughout the past year, I have enjoyed watching and participating in your learning process. I am so impressed with the way in which you supported and encouraged one another. Not only have you succeeded as individuals but, also as a team. I am proud of you for this accomplishment!
The program and curriculum at Zion Massage College are demanding. Over the past twelve months, you have learned about effective client communication, healthy body mechanics, self-care techniques, proper massage technique and how to begin your career with sound business practices. You have learned in-depth theory from traditional medical systems around the world, pathology, when to refer your client to another medical provider, how to help a client with emotional release, how to feel and work with energy and follow up home care techniques that your client can use to increase the benefits of massage. You have studied kinesiology and experienced how touch should be applied like a slow, relaxed breath. We have watched you demonstrate your knowledge of how the human body is designed to move. You have shown us your proficiency in anatomy and physiology. You have studied and practiced a great variety of massage modalities and styles of bodywork. That being said, we want to take a moment to remind you one very important principle:
Each client is an individual with individual needs
It is important that as you embark on this deeply healing profession that you remember to customize your treatments/modalities to fit your client’s individual needs. You should never try to make the client fit the treatment. Everyone deserves healing touch that is customized to fit his/her body, physical and emotional state and pressure preference. As you embark on this deeply healing profession please consider the following:
- Listen to your client. If a client comes to you with neck pain, begin the massage by focusing on his or her neck and, come back again to the area of complaint near the end of session. Never just go about your routine.
- Communicate with your client. In a positive way, remember to educate your client about the parameters of the time frame of the massage and to work as a team to decide, which areas of the body to focus on, pressure preference and the style of the massage.
- Use Precision: Massage therapists should be experts at palpation. When doing deep work, never hit upon bony landmarks; instead, work closely, with precision to move tight muscle and fascia away from the bony landmarks. Follow the shape and structure of your client’s body, help each client to feel healthier, freer, and good about his or her body. Help them to connect their body and mind.
- Use Intuition: Knowledge and technique are important; however, intuition is vital to being an effective massage therapist and body worker. Intuition transcends both knowledge and technique. It allows you to support and follow your client’s unwinding process, to free blockages in circulation to disperse excess energy and stagnation and to bring energy and circulation to the areas of your client’s body that are depleted.
- Support massage movements with your entire structure. Massage in a yogic, tai qi or qi gong like way. This way of working gives a solid foundation that will provide you with a long career in this healing profession. Even if you just move one finger, your legs and your entire core should be moving to support the smaller movement. By using leverage instead of “muscling” through the massage, you are working with the principle of the Law of Least Resistance. All experts use this principle. They make what they are doing look easy. Be especially mindful of this important practice when you are tired. When we are tired, in an attempt to work less, we tend to forget to use good body mechanics. When we compromise our body mechanics we are actually working harder and, we risk paying the price of pain our body and the start of bad habits that can compromise our own health.
- Massage is applied meditation: As massage therapists we bring attention to each part of the client’s structure, part by part and piece by piece. We allow the client to gain awareness about is going on with his or her body in a meditative, non-reactive and positive way. With the massage therapist standing as an enlightened witness to the pain, the client is able to process the information and begin to soften these areas of chronic tension and stagnation. We help our client to stop fighting the pain and, instead to release and let go of chronic holding patterns, tension and stress.
- Everyone deserves to experience healthy, safe, healing touch: As massage therapists we must remember that our clients have diverse backgrounds when it comes to touch. In addition to relieving muscular and nerve pain in the body, we are also teaching our clients about safe touch and healthy boundaries. A client that has a background in which he or she was deprived of safe, non-sexual nurturing touch or that has little experience with safe or healing types of touch will need additional communication and very clear boundaries which point out the difference between these different types of touch. It is important that every client feels safe. Make sure that your words, boundaries, ethical practices and touch create a safe, nurturing and healing experience for your client. Remember the ideas of transference and counter-transference. In a massage session, you are the professional practitioner and the power differential is stacked on your side. Manage the session. Be clear. Create safety.
- Engage in self-care practices every day: As you have learned, traditional health care practitioners combine the practices of massage and bodywork with meditation, contemplation, time spent in nature and energetic healing exercises such as yoga, qi gong, tai qi, reusi dat tan, and other similar exercises, which are designed to integrate the mind, body and spirit. We cannot expect to give an effective treatment and solid support to a client if our own internal resources are depleted. Remember that traditional medical theory teaches that nature provides a way to exchange negative energy for positive in much the same way that nature provides a way for us to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. For this reason, spending time in nature is vital in replenishing the vitality and energy of those individuals that work in a healing profession. Spend time in nature, get massage, practice energetic exercise and meditate. This is part of the commitment to our work.
As we celebrate your graduation today, I am confident that you have developed the skills, possess the knowledge and embody the principles, which are needed to be an effective and highly competent Massage Therapist and Bodyworker. It has been an honor and privilege to work with you this year.
With our Deepest Respect and Sincerity,
Rebecca Farraway, BCMT, LMT, ERYT-200, Founder,Zion Massage College