As a massage student or new massage practitioner, it's in good practice to stay up to date on the latest happenings within the massage industry. Industry conferences provide a great way to stay current with massage trends, as well as network with other massage professionals and earn continuing education credits.
Pat Mayrhofer, president and founder of Nature's Stones, has provided this summation from the recent Alliance for Massage Therapy Education Conference.
From Aug. 18 to 20, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education Conference was held in Charleston, South Carolina. This was the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education's second conference, which brought together directors and administrators from massage therapy schools, as well as some of the top educators and continuing education providers in the massage industry. The mission and purpose of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is to bring together all facets of our industry in order to establish, strengthen and improve massage therapy education.
The goals of the conference are to provide information and educational opportunities through lectures and classes for massage therapy educators, and to develop standards to guide and inform instructors about efficient teaching methods. The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education also acts as a designated representative in dealing with regulatory agencies and organizations that affect the industry of massage therapy education.
As an attendee, I was impressed with the educators and industry icons the conference attracted. Everyone came together with a common goal: to promote quality massage therapy education. Educators have a passion for teaching and a desire to share the knowledge and experiences they have gained over the years.
As the industry has grown, so have the number of schools and teachers. Unfortunately, not all teachers have the adequate knowledge, experience or training to teach massage therapy techniques. An instructor cannot be an expert in every modality. This is particularly evident in stone massage. Many schools give a sample three-hour class in stone massage, and students feel they have enough knowledge to work with stones. For instructors to adequately teach stone massage, they must have knowledge of safety issues, contraindications, proper supplies and the correct way to handle the stones. They must also be well-versed on the benefits that can be achieved with stone therapy.
A course on how to teach stone therapy, or any modality, would be beneficial for setting high standards and preserving our profession. There is a difference between showing someone how to do something and teaching someone how to do something. Unfortunately, too many therapists are shown how to do stone massage and not taught about proper handling of the stones, contraindications or adequate cleaning methods. The lack of quality education in stone massage could lead to client injuries and loss of coverage by insurance companies.
There is a need to develop standards for massage therapy instructors to follow. This must be consistent from entry-level programs through advanced continuing education seminars. Instructors must have full command of their subject matter, basic knowledge of teaching strategies and should perform in a professional and ethical manner.
The question is "How do we find these teachers?" The answer is programs need to be developed to increase the proficiency and competency of aspiring teachers. This will be a long and tedious process, thus the value of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education will work collaboratively with the massage therapy profession, from industry leaders to teachers in the schools and continuing education providers, to establish the standards needed to maintain and advance the massage therapy profession.
Structured courses should be established for the instructors to learn practical application of teaching methods, ethical matters, anatomy, physiology and body mechanics.
Instructors in massage therapy must also understand the various way individuals may learn: visual, auditory, tactile and experiential; therefore, teachers must structure their classes and seminars accordingly. Additional, the teacher must understand how to evaluate students' progress, as well as help them understand the subject matter. Furthermore, if disruption in the learning process occurs, teachers must be able to assess why the student is not learning, not paying attention, is disruptive or shows no interest in the cognitive or practical subject matter. Instructors should know how to make the class interesting and rewarding.
Excellent education begins with competent, knowledgeable teachers. Now is the time to set the standards for our future teachers.
For information on the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, visit www.afmte.org . Get involved be part of the future.
Please look for future articles on www.MASSAGEmag.com, as I explore the exciting arena of stone massage. I will write about safety issues, contraindications, the expansion of stone therapy to different modalities, the evolution into cold-stone therapy with marble stones and now the resurgence of stone massage with the innovation of carved basalt stones. I will also discuss accessory products, such as massage oil, essential oils, heaters, textiles, DVDs and seminars. I look forward to an ongoing conversation with you.