Complementary Therapists Association - Forums
Posted by Shelley Waite, Oct 16 2012 9:27PM

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How to gain experience?

Hi All!

I qualified as a Massage therapist about 18 months ago and have spent 6 months setting up my business. I put so much time and effort into it - building the website, sorting out the banking and legal side of things and doing forecasts etc. Finally, I was ready to go! So I started advertising - Relaxing massage, energising massage and remedial massage. I've had a few clients wanting relaxing massages and have obliged willingly (no problem).

However, I've found that a LOT of people ask me about remedial massage ("I have a frozen shoulder/Sciatica/slept on my neck funny/migraines" etc.). This is the route I want to go down, really (and later Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine etc.) but have now realised that I just don't have the skills to help these people :(

My Tutor always drummed into us, "Know your muscles! It's a lifelong learning process". I agree! But the problem is this - where do I start when it comes to specific ailments?? I feel like a bit of a con artist charging people for non-specific treatments to their very specific ailments (and just to be clear, I haven't taken on any remedial clients). The obvious things to me are:

1. Find people with ailments and ask to practice on them for free, in exchange for feedback
2. Volunteer for charity things (have seen lots listed on here)
3. Book in to some more specialised massage therapy courses/classes

These seem obvious to me. However, I would really like some advice from those of you who have been in the same situation in your beginning years - are any of the above a not-so-good idea? Or have you got a better one?? :)

Many thanks!

Nicki Lee
Oct 16 2012 10:56PM
Hi Shelley,

You're doing well so far, recognising that you need to know a bit more. I have some suggestions, but first am wondering what training you have had with the Remedial massage? Since you advertise that I'm assuming you've done more than the basic ITEC or similar course?

If you've studied Remedial massage but just don't have much experience I would suggest asking people when they make the appointment what their problem is, and doing some research before they come to give you some ideas. I say 'ideas' because no matter what they say on the phone, you still need to do a detailed SOAP assessment to determine the problem to make a decision on how to begin treating. You may find you change the treatment as it progresses and you learn more through palpation. So, if you have done the training but are underconfident about treating actual people, this will help you gain the experience you need. In the early stages you may find you are referring people to other therapists more often (other remedial therapists, sports therapists, osteopaths, etc.) - I did in the early days, and would simply say that I thought they would benefit from having xxx treatment. People were always grateful for a good referral, (and I didn't say I didn't have the experience or confidence)and I would often see them again later on. As the months and years went by I referred less and less. And yes, certainly I found although my qualification was sports therapy which included remedial massage and sports massage, I did several workshops a year the first few years, for techniques I often already had studied but this gave me much more confidence focusing on a single thing for a full day or weekend.

However if you haven't studied remedial massage, I would suggest that you not advertise that specifically until you've undertaken some additional study. It doesn't matter if this is a full course or just build your training workshop by workshop. You will still get some people who have problems (most people do!) even if you are just advertising therapeutic massage, and you will gain experience working with these people as you do a bit more training.

If you want more specific advice feel free to email me, or phone, and I'd be happy to discuss any of this further.

Remedial massage is very rewarding work, and I'm sure you will really enjoy it!

Best of luck,
Mike Colquhoun
Oct 17 2012 12:55AM
Hi Shelley
As always excellent advice from Nikki. Do the courses you will learn on each of them. Gain experience which takes time. Be very critical of the courses you do, many of them are very poorly researched. Teachers tend to repeat what they were taught though current thinking has moved on. So do your research, the internet is full of information much of it also very questionable. Develop your critical facility. I used to look things up in two text books at least because though these are written by Experts even experts make mistakes and books get out of date. I have never attended a single day’s course in which there was not one factual error made.
There is unfortunately no quick way to learn and gain experience but you can shorten the process by becoming very analytical in your thinking which is a skill you will find invaluable in trying to understand the causes of your Patient’s pain. Remedial Massage is going through an explosion in information and understanding at the moment and so is an exciting area to be involved in.
Oh and have faith in basic Massage with the simple caveat that you must refer if the problems appear very serious, simple massage works and relieves pain. It takes more sessions than working on the cause directly but it gets there in the end and does good reducing pain and does no harm in the mean time. Every time I get better at identifying causes and solving problems faster I have to find more new patients faster because otherwise I have fewer patients.
For a glimpse of where remedial massage can take you and I hope help with some of the problems you may come across look at my web site
Hope this helps
Yours aye Mike
Kerry Oliver
Oct 17 2012 9:41AM
Hi Jing Massage School is fantastic for the route you want to go down based in Brighton they only do advanced massage courses and you learn so much in a couple of days; I have done a lot of post qualifying training and found them by far the best for advanced clinical massage and getting specific remedial skills without losing sight of the holistic values of massage - they also run courses in other parts of the county (I am in Edinburgh) Check them out and good luck, sound like you are asking all the right questions
Amanda Clegg
Oct 17 2012 4:30PM
Nikki started me off on remedial massage when attended some of her day schools when she was teaching at Thames Ditton years ago - I've gone on from there doing different 'body problem specific' short courses and finding that clients inevitably have problems they want addressing even if they've just come for a relaxing massage - it's usually coz they've got back ache of some sort, so off you go on your journey of learning and gaining experience. Looking back I felt exactly as you do, and often think 'gosh I could have helped so-and-so far more if I'd known then what I know now! But, you'll know you're on the right track when your clients stay with you and you start getting recommendations.

Mike - BTW, client who had bells palsy is now fine - I must pm you!
Shelley Waite
Oct 20 2012 3:55PM
Wow! Thank you all for such in-depth advice! It's good to know there's a lot of options/opportunity out there.

Nicki, you're right, I would have been better off not putting 'remedial' on my fliers. Although I didn't really think about it much at the time, as my tutor used to speak of remedial work a lot and show us the odd move on specific problem areas. I think in my head I'd already studied remedial!

I'll stick to the therapeutic treatments for now, to pay for the course(s) at the Jing Massage school, which look wonderful - thanks Kerry!

I now feel excited about the Massage Therapy path again, so thank you all! :)

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