In This Episode You Will Learn: 

  1. The purpose of accreditation and its benefits.
  2. School quality indicators.
  3. The best thing you can do to progress in the massage therapy field.

The Value of a Well-Rounded Perspective

Cliff Korn, the chair of the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), highlights what to look for in a great educational environment.

Cliff’s journey to becoming a massage therapist is unique. From his time in the Navy, to working in sales, and then becoming a massage therapy practitioner and accreditation chair, his diverse experience has helped him gain a well-rounded perspective. He says this is an important aspect of his success as a practitioner, teacher, and evaluator of massage.

Why Accreditations Matters

In his current position at COMTA, Cliff heads the committee that determines whether a school can or can’t be accredited. He explains that accreditation is a level of standards by which an institution agrees to be measured, similar to a peer review.

[12:17] “That’s really what accreditation is: It’s a peer review.”

While you still can become a good massage therapist if you go to a school that isn’t accredited, accreditation ensures students get an education that meets standards that are valid across the country. Cliff highlights a few ways accredited schools set themselves apart.

  1. They teach how to make patient assessments.
  2. They teach research literacy.
  3. Their students have access to U.S. financial aid.
  4. Their curriculum content is peer reviewed.

School Quality Indicators

Cliff urges prospective students to define their unique goals. Consider the following questions when beginning to evaluate which school is best for you:

  • Why do you want to get into massage therapy in the first place?
  • What area of practice do you envision yourself enjoying? Sports massage, private practice, medispa, etc.?

Look at school websites for bios of past students. See if anyone from that program specialized in the area of massage you’re interested in. Hire an alum to give you a massage and pick their brain about the program.

Call the school you’re considering, visit it, and make time to talk to the alumni. Understanding your school options in light of the context of your own experience, rather than their marketing, is important. 

Pay attention to the instructors’ teaching experience. Cliff says it’s not enough that the instructor has practiced massage.

[24:33] “You really want to make sure you’re not getting last year’s students as this year’s teachers.”

Massage therapy offers many routes for success. In Cliff’s experience, success came most profoundly through volunteering his time:

[27:46] “I find that one of the most important things you can do to progress in the [massage therapy] field is to give back to the field.”

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