Questions for therapists

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Questions for therapists

Postby Jezea on Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:09 am

I'm a recent graduate (April 2011) and passed the NCBTMB exam this month. I'll never stop learning and still feel student-like so I chose this forum. I'm curious for the established therapists, what was your first massage position and how long after graduating did you get it? I'm looking for some encouragement in your stories. Was it normal for you to have doubts about yourself and what you know? My school did not "formally" teach Swedish so I've been researching books/videos and practicing. I may be over analyzing but for me, it seems so vaguely cold when a spa or clinic says "must know Swedish and deep tissue." I feel strange or confused about the required modalities being so black and white because we weren't officially taught that way. Maybe I'm being too honest but I want to feel qualified.

Another thing, if your first place was a spa/clinic and you had a practicum with the employer...how did you beat anxiety? I love doing this and feel like it's something I need to do, it's so meaningful and fulfilling. I haven't been giving massages to friends and family lately and sense a difference in my mood. I'm eager to work but have a barrage of fears about being a good enough therapist for people. My life feels like a series of spiritual hills: massage school, NCBTMB, finding a place to work. This final one seems so tall. I want to climb it as much as I am afraid of it. Am I alone?
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby TouchofGrace on Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:23 am

No, you are not alone. I remember telling my teacher that I didn't 'feel' ready to go out there. I wanted to stay in school. He told me that I have all the tools available to me that are needed and that with each client I work on, I will learn from that client, gaining more knowledge every day. He said, "Sandra, you know sometimes when you go to the doctor and he says 'I will be right back...' maybe he isn't going to check on another patient. Maybe he stepped into his office to do research". Bottom line is.. the more massages you do, the more you will learn and none of us know everything when we first start. and none of us know everything when we retire... But I have found that caring about the person you are working on goes alot further than skill. If they know you aren't interested in the money they are giving you, but are more interested in what you have to offer them to make them feel better, the rest will take care of itself. And it won't be long before you are answering questions without a second thought and think.. wow, look how far I've come!

Good luck! :)
~Sandra

Worry doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow...it empties today of its strength
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby pueppi on Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:35 pm

I honestly think it is important to say, if you have to get to work and pay the bills, and don't have the luxury of worrying about this, your fear will be decreased by leaps and bounds.

Both a spa and clinic need to know if the people they will hire can actually do the work, feel competent about it and will most likely stick around. So when it feels vaguely cold to you that they have these specific requirements of a person who knows Swedish or Deep Tissue work, you have to recognize that they are hiring a person and plan to pay them for the work they will perform. If you look at them and say, "Well, I don't feel qualified.", you're just not going to get the job. When someone has to eat, they start to feel qualified rather they are or aren't, real quick.

It sounds like you are eager to work but don't have to. So, you are just going to be on a different playing field than a lot of us were when we got out of school. That may sound cruel, but it is more factual as far as my personal life was concerned.

When I got out of massage school, it was an auxillary education to one I already had in another health-care field (which I had already been in for about 6 years), so I already had the confidence. I am lucky in that aspect.

My story is long, so I won't bore you with the details, but when I took my first massage job, I can say I worked way too fast and tried to cover much more for each client than should be covered in a normal session. I eventually learned you can't take care of everything in one massage. I was using every body I could get my hands on to tweak and refine my work. I would practice a niggle here and there when the body allowed, in order to test things and see how the client reacted.

If you have the time to take now, so that you can learn things you would like before jumping into the world of massage work, then that is wonderful! I didn't have any time to take before getting into my initial or auxillary professions. I had bills to pay and had to eat. My desire was to set up my private practice. I worked my rear off at part time jobs in the day and established an office at night. I also worked late nights for someone else in addition to all of this. I worked backward of most people do, slowly dropping a job here and there until I could be in my private practice for regular business hours. It took everything I had (and then some) when it comes to my stamina and fortitude, in order to eventually have an ofice that I could be in throughout the day. Only about three years ago did I finally get to a point where I didn't have to work for other people in addition to my own practice, in order to pay the bills. And, when I say pay the bills, I mean no retirement fund, no 401K... just "pay the bills" and have a little left over to eat out here and there with a small vacation once every 7 or so years.

I am not trying to sound harsh, but I want you to know that I got out of my original heath-care related school in 1992. I set up private practice in 1996. I got my auxillary massage license (which is the majority of my private practice) in 1998-ish and now it is 2011. It may be hard, but you can do it. I love my work. I do it different than other people. It works for me. Find what you like and make it work for you. :)

You'll do fine. But if you have time to worry about it, you'll probably never jump in. So, get to jumping. This forum is a great resource and we'll help you in any way possible. I hope this was encouraging, even though it has a bleak tone to it.
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07/30/11: correction: 2008! ='d 1998. :P
Last edited by pueppi on Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby jcslmt on Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:57 pm

You are definitely not alone. I graduated December 07 and just had my first full interview and practicum today. I have done massage as a self-employed therapist for three years and I was almost shaking scared. But I was blessed with a wonderful owner/operator who made the whole process so relaxing and easy for me. I found as I got into the practicum and just went with my instincts and my training, I almost forgot it was an interview. Relax, breathe, trust your instincts {and your higher power if you believe in one} and you will do fine.
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby pueppi on Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:52 am

"I got my auxillary massage license (which is the majority of my private practice) in 1998-ish (corrected) and now it is 2011."

07/30/11: correction: 2008! ='d 1998. :P
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby Masthera on Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:05 am

One of the major things they can't teach you in massage school is what you will learn as you gain experience. Your hands and your clients will teach you so many things. Confidence will come as you become more comfortable with the many facets of massage. I worked for my massage school right after graduation as well as a little on my own from a chiropractor's office. I look back now and I am sure I lacked professionalism and skill, but with each job and each client, I learned something that I carry with me today. It has all helped make me the successful therapist I am today. Just do your best, ask questions and don't be afraid to try/learn new things. Good luck!
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
- Henry Ford
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby jimswife on Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:11 am

I haven't graduated yet, but I am close. And this is something we have talked about as well. We are all feeling a bit nervous, inexperienced and not sure what to do after we are finished with school. We were told that we would probably feel this way. And our instructors have been telling us that they too are constantly learning. It's never ending. That's one of the cool things about this job. It's not boring! We were told that you really need to get your hands on about 1000 "bodies". That you were learn more by doing. You will feel things you weren't feeling before, feel the changes you are making and feel confident in your work. So when I go out there I am going to try my best to keep that in mind. And I will keep the attitude that I have right now when I am working on clients in clinic.... I take a deep breath, and say to myself that I am going into that session and I am going to give the best massage I know how to give. That's all I can do!
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Re: Questions for therapists

Postby JasonE on Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:11 pm

Hmmm... prior to massage, I spent years in sales, marketing, and management. I also spent a lot of time in competitive martial arts. After living through the beatings and bruises experienced in those professional and personal endeavors, I am pretty comfortable with myself. :grin:

I graduated from school with a mountain of confidence, started working shortly afterward, and have become reasonably successful. Part of my confidence stems from the fact that I have much to learn and don't have to pretend otherwise. It's reassuring to know that so many of my colleagues are learning and teaching others, and that I can tap into deep wells of information to better understand each client, each session, each case history.

As an employer of massage therapists, I want applicants to be skilled in both relaxation and therapeutic massage methods. "Swedish" is a word commonly used as a euphemism for relaxation massage, and "deep tissue" is a euphemism for therapeutic massage. Don't get too hung up on them. If you know how to do effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, etc. - you essentially know "Swedish" massage. If you are skilled at client intakes, clinical reasoning and therapeutic massage techniques, you essentially know "deep tissue" massage.

Having received many "massage interviews" from applicants that passed the prior steps in the interview process, I can assure you that EVERYONE gets nervous, even those with many years of experience. The best suggestion I can give you is to take control and BE THE THERAPIST. You are working on a living, breathing person who needs work. Ask them relevant questions about their health before starting, and treat the massage as you would any other. If they ask you questions, do your best to answer. If they want you to do something specific, address it however seems best to you. If they ask you to apply more or less pressure, or to switch techniques, do so. If they just lay there, simply do a good massage.

However good you are right now, fresh out of school, you are nowhere near as good as you will become. You have loads of fresh knowledge but little real practice, and this is a very EXCITING time to get started, because you are about to embark on your journey towards mastery! :D For now, try to project the poise and professionalism of a master massage therapist. It gets easier with practice. :altwink:

This will NOT be your "final hill" - think of it as more of a speed bump. You may need to slow down and pay a bit of extra attention, but it won't stop you from moving forward.
Jason Erickson, NCTMB, ACE-CPT, AIS-TA
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