In This Episode You Will Learn: 

  1. Questions to ask during your search for a massage therapy program
  2. Physical signs to pay attention to when making a campus visit
  3. How to spot programs that will help you develop your critical reasoning

Quality Education Is Fundamental for Career Success

Whitney Lowe, founder and director of the Academy of Clinical Massage, shares how to find a quality massage therapy program and build a sustainable career.

Massage therapy has the capacity to change people’s lives in profound ways. When Whitney was pursuing graduate studies in psychology in the ‘80s, he was starting to get burned out. He decided to become a massage therapist to pay his way through his degree while exploring the physical side of the mind-body connection. He soon found a new passion and a rewarding career.

Today, Whitney is one of the foremost instructors of students and practitioners of massage therapy. He stresses that a quality program and excellent instructors are fundamental to your success — and both require more than just a thorough understanding of massage techniques. 

Research and Interview the School

Not all massage programs are created equal. Whitney shares invaluable tips for finding the best program:

  1. Reach out to therapists who completed the program you’re interested in. Ask them about their experience and if they felt they were prepared for their career.
  2. Research the program’s curriculum. Well-designed curricula utilize integrated, cumulative learning. It’s not just about the hours spent, it’s about the quality of the hours that make up the curriculum.
  3. Get a feel for the educators. Setting up in-person meetings with faculty and reviewing any writing or work they have published are great steps for determining if the training and qualifications of the program’s staff meet your expectations.

Whitney reinforces that a good educator will exhibit the following qualities:

  • Compassionate
  • Good listener
  • Caring
  • Knowledgeable
  • Understanding of student difficulties and differences

Prospective students should have thoughtful questions prepared when going to visit a massage therapy school. Whitney recommends asking about:

  • The school’s philosophy of training their staff
  • Support systems in place for students 
  • Available resources
  • The materials and technology that will be used
  • Guidelines and standards for student admissions

When visiting a campus, keep an eye out for the level of tidiness and organization in the offices and classrooms you visit. The state that the faculty keeps their space in reflects the pride and ownership they have in the school. 

Become Business Savvy and Mission-Focused

While choosing a good massage therapy school will equip you with technical skills, Whitney also emphasizes two additional drivers of success:

  1. Learn the best business practices to build a profitable and sustainable practice.
  2. Gain clarity on why you are becoming a massage therapist. There are always naysayers; knowing your mission will be helpful for the long-term health of your practice. 

[22:00] “Whenever I get… frustrated, burned out, down about things, I try to reconnect myself with what is that mission? And why am I doing what I’m doing? And it all comes back to that idea of… a much bigger picture. I’m really trying to heal a lot of the pain in the world.”

Great Programs Develop Critical Reasoning Skills

Whitney warns that many educators teach massage techniques and modalities as if they’re the answer to a patient’s problems. He advocates for teaching students critical reasoning, which is the ability to think through problems and choose the right tools to address them.

[24:38] “Your ability to recognize who people are, what they’re about, what their goals are, and how you can work with them to achieve those goals, that’s what makes a really great massage therapist.”

Whitney acknowledges that critical reasoning is the product of time and experience; however, excellent massage programs will create opportunities for you to begin developing this skill. 

His final tip for prospective massage therapy students: Trust your gut.

[30:41] “Listen to what your gut tells you when you go to the institution and talk to the people who’ve been there. Do you get a really good sense of this being the right thing for you?”

Learn More:

Also Mentioned In This Episode:Whitney’s podcast: The Thinking Practitioner