The differences between massage therapy training programs

Thinking of becoming a massage therapist but unsure where to start? Here's some information about the differences between massage therapy training programs in Canada to help get you going.

The differences between massage therapy training programs

There are many massage therapy training programs across the country that can prepare you to become a certified massage therapist. However, these programs are different from one province or territory to another.

Program duration

In Canada, training programs in massage therapy vary greatly. In some schools, you only receive 400 hours of training, while in others you get up to 3,000 hours:

  • Ontario, for example, gives a massage therapist’s diploma after 2,200 hours of training.
  • In Quebec, the program usually includes 1,000 hours of study and practice, while in British Columbia, it’s 3,000 hours.
  • A training program in massage therapy usually lasts between 18 and 36 months.

Program content

Becoming a massage therapist involves much more than learning the various massage techniques, such as shiatsu and Swedish massage.

Although training programs differ from region to region, they generally cover the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Counselling and communicating
  • Professional ethics

Some other areas that may be covered include:

  • Hydrotherapy, reflexology, pharmacology, rehabilitation therapy, kinesiology, nutrition and histology.

In addition, training programs in massage therapy typically include practical training supervised by a certified massage therapist.

The regulation of massage therapy

In Canada, massage therapy is a recognized profession and is regulated in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and British Columbia.

  • In these provinces, you must be a graduate from an accredited massage therapy school and be a member of a provincial professional association in order to practise.

What massage therapists do

Massage therapists assess and treat physical ailments and pain in the soft tissue and joints, most commonly by using their hands to manipulate and massage the muscles and soft tissue. Here is a more detailed look at what massage therapists do:

  • Assess the condition of the patient through an interview and subsequent movement and strength tests. They may perform basic orthopaedic and neurological tests as well.
  • Propose a treatment plan and undertake a series of treatments to resolve muscle tension, alleviate an injury or just to maintain a client’s well-being.
  • Massage the muscles and soft tissue with massage techniques, hydrotherapy or restorative exercises.
  • Keep treatment records for each patient.
  • Collaborate with other health professionals when necessary.

Make the right choice

The actual practice of massage therapy doesn’t vary much from place to place. However, the training programs in massage therapy and professional regulation do. So, before choosing your training program, do your research and talk to the admissions office at the schools that interest you.

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