The state massage therapist licensing requirements for Pennsylvania, the state I live in, are fairly typical for the states that have adopted licensing for massage. They require 600 hours of instruction at a state certified school, half of which are in Anatomy and Pysiology.
I enjoyed Anatomy Class, contrary to the horror stories, due in large part to the fantastic instructor I had at my favorite little massage school in Pottstown. She took the time to go over each new bone and muscle with us, often several times and using several different learning/teaching techniques. She made sure we each understood the subject at hand.
I’m sure I’ll be taking many more anatomy classes, I can only hope my future instructors are half as good.
I do however have one complaint about the curiculum these massage schools are forced to teach. This is not a new complaint in any teaching circle, I know it’s difficult to gauge where to draw the breadth vs. depth line, I just felt compelled to make my opinion known.
There was a common theme through much of the lecture on the “low-level” content in the material. The phrase “This is something you’ll never use again but we have to teach it because it’s on the nationals”, was repeated many times throughout the course.
I can see why. I consider myself a fairly academic person, so if any massage therapist is going to enjoy knowing exactly how the body works at a celluar level, I’m a good canidate. However, I don’t plan on taking my education to the level of molecular biologist.
Understanding the internals of a human skin or nerve cell, at the level of mitochonndria, DNA, axons, dendrites, Golgi Apparati and the like, just seems to be overkill. I think the time used on these subjects could be better spent on teaching how it is that massage can effect something like digestion or perhaps more time working something like PNF stretching and sport massage into the dialog.
All in all I think it’s good that massage therapists are being forced to obtain state licensing. I think it’s good for the industry and I think it’s good for the masssage consumer. Ensuring we’re well versed on not only how to give a massage but also the pathologies of the human body and how we can effect them is also imperative.
My main gripe, is similar to one I’ve had in other disciplines. Don’t force me to learn complex computer hardware logic board design techniques, for example, in order to be a web page designer. It’s just not necessary and it detracts from practicing the art.
We don’t put writers through courses on how paper is made and we shouldn’t make that mistake with massage.