How Massage Therapy Goes Beyond Relaxation

When you think of massage therapy, I am willing to bet that words such as relaxing, soothing and calming come to mind. While it’s true that massage therapy is one very beneficial way to relax, massage offers so much more. Check out this interview with Globe University-Appleton’s massage therapy program chair, Carol Baumhardt, and massage student Brandy Fish, to learn how this therapy goes beyond relaxation.

massage therapy program

Massage therapy students practice clay molding muscles in a kinesiology class, with the helpful illustrations found using their new iPads.

What do you do as a massage therapist?

Carol explained that there are several techniques of massage, ranging from relaxation techniques used in Swedish and hot stone massages, to holistic approaches such as those in Thai and lomilomi massages. “Massage therapy is as old as time! It involves mind, body, and spirit,” said Carol, who also maintains her own private massage therapy practice.

“In my own practice, I specialize in chronic pain massage working with my clients for three to six sessions,” Carol continued. “The goal is to have them not come back and see me after that; hopefully, I will have helped heal some of their long-term pain.”

What type of person does it take to be a massage therapist?

To be a massage therapist, one must:

  • be compassionate,
  • be dedicated, and
  • hold high levels of integrity.

“Since you are working intimately with clients, it’s important to understand and appreciate that the moments you spend with them are gifts; they are sharing intimate details about their life, such as pain and stress,” Carol said. “Keeping emotional boundaries is a must, too. Don’t project your own opinions on what they are going through. Be very careful to maintain confidentiality.”

Carol explained that the profession requires a delicate balance between wanting to know how people are doing and keeping professional boundaries.

Through our massage therapy program, what sorts of hands-on experiences can a massage therapy student expect to gain?

“What I really love about our program is that from day one, our students are forced to interact with each other because they are doing massage techniques right away,” Carol explained. “It’s so intimate, sharing lots about ourselves with each other right away. As a student, you can expect to become close with your classmates right away. Our students are awesome because they are compassionate individuals; that comes through every day, there’s no avoiding it.”

massage therapy program

Massage therapy students and program chair Carol Baumhardt (center) discuss the importance of knowing the science of muscles behind massage.

Massage therapy student Brady Fish, who is working toward her associate degree and is also employed at Massage Envy, agrees that her experience here at Globe is extremely valuable to her in her career.

“My education at Globe University has been very valuable throughout my experience in the massage therapy program,” Brandy said. “The classes that I have taken have helped prepare me for working in my career as a massage therapist. I take everything that I have learned with me every day to work.”

Carol also noted the importance of not just practicing techniques on fellow classmates. “We are so intimate with each other, so it becomes safe to massage each other. It’s important to bring people from the community in that students don’t know to help set them up for working on their own clients someday.”

Students get the opportunity to practice techniques on community members who participate in the campus’ free massage therapy clinic, but they also get to go into the community to practice on others, including special populations. Students are able to see the value in giving back to the community in this way.

After graduating, what sorts of settings can massage therapists work in?

“What settings can they not work in?!” exclaimed Carol. “Students can work in a variety of settings whether it be their own practice, medical clinics, physical therapy or chiropractic offices, and even dental offices, for those patients who get stressed out before going to see their dentists.”

Brandy is looking forward to her future career path after graduating from Globe. “I love going to work every day where I know I am helping my clients relax and feel good,” she said. “I also can educate my clients on the importance of massages and how it will help them live a healthier and pain-free lifestyle.

Massage therapy goes way beyond providing relaxation! Special thanks to Carol Baumhardt and Brandy Fish for their contributions to this article.