Therapeutic Bodywork Services

The therapeutic bodywork field focuses on alleviating pain, soreness and stress in clients. Keep reading below to find out more about what therapeutic bodywork services entail.

Is a Career in Therapeutic Bodywork Services for Me?

Career Overview

Therapeutic bodywork services include the various types of massage that promote holistic healing of the body, mind and spirit. A few of the documented benefits of massage are improved circulation, stress alleviation and joint pain relief. There are over 150 types of bodywork, such as Swedish massage, sports massage, shiatsu, reflexology, acupressure and neuromuscular therapy. The bodywork professional, often referred to as a massage therapist, performs different types of massage based on what best suits each patient's needs.

As a massage therapist, you'll have several career options working in various settings, such as a private office, spa, hospital, fitness center or nursing home. Some doctors and other practitioners now prescribe massage. Consequently, massage may be covered by health insurance, allowing more people to seek your services. Massage therapy is one of the fastest-growing health professions today. The majority of states and the District of Columbia require you to have some formal education and a license or certification to work as a massage therapist.

No matter the setting, you'll work to assess your clients' needs and relieve their aches, pains and stress while leaving them with a sense of well-being. For this reason, you'll need to be empathetic, communicative and friendly, with an ability to put people at ease. Because of the physical nature of the massage therapist's job, repetitive-stress injuries are sometimes a problem. Thus, you may wish to work independently, scheduling your clients' appointments to afford proper spacing between sessions.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2012, almost half of massage therapists were self-employed, often owning their own businesses (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that employment of these professionals was predicted to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, increasing by 23% from 2012 to 2022. As of May 2013, the annual median wage for massage therapists was $35,920.

How Can I Work in Therapeutic Bodywork Services?

Education

Massage therapy associate's degree programs are available, as well as bachelor's degree and various certificate programs. Typical classes in a massage therapy program are anatomy and physiology, channels and points, holistic health, kinesiology and Asian bodywork. In addition to covering the basics of massage, you may focus on a specific type, depending on the program you choose. In all programs, you'll spend time in a lab setting working extensively to develop your skills in manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. Before deciding on a massage therapy educational program, you should look into the legal requirements of the state in which you wish to work.

Licensing and Certification

Some states require you to complete a state-administered exam, while others require you to pass the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB) or the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).

To sit for the NCETMB exam and become a massage therapist, you'll need a minimum of 500 hours of instruction. This will include specified minimum hours in massage and bodywork assessment, theory and application, business and ethics, pathology, body systems and additional instruction in a related field. You will also need to be a graduate of an NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork) Assigned School Code program (www.ncbtmb.org).

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