Sunday, October 23, 2011



Schools do a great job preparing students for a career in massage therapy. But many students need a little help and guidance to pass licensing exams.

Here is what I have found works BEST.

1) Use practice exams. Utilize practice exams when possible. Pen and paper is fine, but also have computerized exams available because this is the media used when students/graduates actually take the exam.

I use an exam with fewer questions first (50 items), gradually progressing to exams with more questions (75 items, 100 items, 125 items, 150 items). This reduces the "overwhelm" factor and also gives them confidence as scores improve with subsequent exams. Yes, scores improve over time.

MEMO: I have students record their scores along with the exam dates. Because practice exams begin before they graduate (90 days before), a score of 40-50% is not unusual. But each practice test yields higher scores. By graduation, scores are 80-90%. Ask students to focus on their progress, not early test scores.

2) Analysis results. Use individual scores to discover a particular student's content weakness.

3) Remediate. Once a student's weakness is revealed by test scores, suggest remediation strategies. For example, if Sally frequently marks kinesiology questions incorrectly, ask her to reread those chapters in her textbook, retake end-of-the-chapter assessments, and review videos online. Use all resources available.

Be sure to ask Sally what methods work best for her when suggesting remediation strategies.

Use this video when thinking about learning methods. It's a promotional video, but gives a great overview of what types of resources are available for most instructors.

4) Then retest and remediate. Repeat this process of retesting and remediating until the student's percentile score is over 80%.

Massage review programs (massage exam / massage prep) are good. There are more similarities than differences.

I have prepared free textbook resources. One of these resources is a question bank. This program features customizable formats, generates scores, and gives instructors AND students ALL the questions and answers in a PDF that can be viewed and printed.


Go to

If you have an account, log in.

Go straight to registering for Salvo resources and omit the steps in the box below.

If you don't have an account, click Join Evolve Communities! Follow the prompts.

Type "SALVO" in the top search bar - click SEARCH.

Under "Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice, 4th Edition," click +Register beneath Resources.

On the next screen, click Register> in the green box.

Follow the prompts.

Once you are registered, log out and log in again (or go to the home page and refresh the page).

On the right hand side of the page under "My Content", click +Resources.

A drop down menus will appear. Click on Salvo: Massage Therapy, 4th Edition.

On the Book Banner page, click on Resources.

Chapter folders will appear next. This book has 30 chapters.

Click on Chapter 02 - Therapeutic Relationships. However, any chapter folder will do.

Click on Student Resources. Instructors will have an additional "Instructor Resources" folder.

On the next screen, click on Prepare for Exams.

On the next screen, click on Practice Test for Certification and Licensing Examinations.

The next screen is the main menu for the practice exams. Select "10," "25," "50," or "100 Questions." Then click Start.

Take the test. These screens also have a button with Answer PDF. Clicking on this button will produce the entire exam with answers. There are 550 questions in this bank; 100 printed pages.

Have fun clicking on other folders. The folder entitled Additional Resources, contains the Body Spectrum Coloring Book. Lots of fun!!! This folder also contains Weblinks. Chapter 18 has lots of websites for anatomy and physiology websites. Activities: Flashcards are great, so are the Activities: Chapter Challenge.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Massage Therapy and BLOOD CLOTS

Surgery involves cutting into the body. Blood clots form as part of the healing process. Clots may also form in the veins of the pelvis and lower extremities as a result of blood stasis (stagnation). Blood stasis can occur because of inactivity and bed rest, both of which are common after surgery.

By definition, a blood clot, or thrombus, is attached to a vessel wall. When it becomes a floating mass in the intraluminal space, it is called a thromboembolus, or embolus. An embolus may circulates to the brain, and cause a stroke, to the heart and cause a heart attack, or to the lungs and become a pulmonary embolism, all of which are life threatening.

Thrombocytes, or platelets, are the blood cells used to form clots. Thrombocytes have a life span of about 10 days.

If your client has had surgery, avoid massage on lower extremities for 10 days starting from the time the client is ambulatory and no longer confined to bedrest.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Massage Therapy: Shared Decisions

Many decisions regarding treatment are shared between the client and the therapist. Once the treatment plan is formulated in accordance with the client's therapeutic goals, the therapist discloses all benefits and potential risks. The client, as informed entity, may modify the plan.

It is important to note that a drug side effect does not automatically preclude use of specific massage techniques. Especially techniques that would best fulfill client goals.

For example, a client taking an anticoagulant may experience the common side effect of easy bruising. This same client may have a need for deep-pressure massage to address troublesome trigger points in the back, neck, and shoulders. If the client, who has been informed of the likelihood of bruising from deep-pressure massage, still wishes to proceed and the therapist is comfortable doing so, these techniques are appropriate. Reevaluate the client (and the decision) during subsequent sessions, and modify the treatment plan as needed.

Additionally, a physician may order a deep-pressure massage or myofascial release for a client who is taking anticoagulants. Given that bruising is not a life-threatening condition, the physician may decide that the massage benefits outweigh the risks. In these cases, the client would be best served with deep-pressure massage. However, if the therapist is unwilling to comply with the physician’s order under these circumstances, the therapist should refer the client to another therapist.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Massage Research: Ways to GET INVOLVED!!

A gentleman on facebook asked me today (Aug 8, 2011) how he can get involved with massage therapy research. This is a great question that many therapists have.

Below is an excerpt from Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice, p 86.


The easiest way is to become involved with an organization that supports research. Will include a list of organizations and resources in a later post. You can become a member, donate money or donate your time through volunteering. One easy way to support an organization financially is to donate the price of one massage each year to an organization that funds massage therapy research.

Additionally, researchers are often looking for qualified massage therapists to assist with providing treatments for studies. That is, many studies collate data from multiple “sites” where massage therapists from across a region or country submit data from their practices. This research participation can be volunteer or paid work, and advances the profession.

Encouraging clients, family, or friends to participate is another way to support massage therapy research.

Finally, supporting the continuing need for quality research through your professional organization, to other therapists and medical professionals, and to your political representatives (National Institutes of Health [NIH] is funded through Congress so get in touch with your representatives and tell them how important National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [NCCAM] is to your profession. There are those in Congress who wish to eliminate NCCAM from the NIH). Even seemingly small efforts when combined with those of other therapists can make a tremendous difference to the overall goal of establishing an outstanding research knowledge base for massage therapy."

~ JoEllen M. Sefton , PhD, ATC, CMT

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Students Reflect on Massage Clinic Experience

Two students at the Louisiana Institute of Massage Therapy share their journey through massage clinic held in the months of May and June 2011. Thank you Sara and Jessica.

A View Into The Mind of A Massage
By Jessica Arabie

My first client is on the table.
My heart is racing, racing, racing.
My mind is playing the familiar tune,
I can’t do this, I can’t do this.

I have forgotten all my strokes.
If all else fails effleurage!
The Heart!
Do the Heart stroke!
Desperately praying “Please guide my hands to my clients needs.”
“Calm my spirit dear Lord”
“Bring back to my memory all I’ve learned”,
“Help me Lord, Help me”

My nerves start to calm,
My mind slows down.
I have lost myself in this massage.
The strokes are coming naturally now.
My hands following the contour of my clients body.
My game face is on.
The traps, the lats, and yes, that is the quads.

I go a little deeper to the Rhomboids, up and around the deltoids.
Yes, Yes, I remember !

My heart beats slow and my spirit is calm.
My mind is clear,
And all is peaceful.

The Diary of a Mad Massage Therapy Student
By: Sara House

For all massage therapists, current students and future students out there, you may know the feeling I had right before clinicals… I am talking about the feeling of a MAD massage school student. Do you know the feeling of sheer panic and madness? The one you have just before you are about to jump off a cliff. That is the same feeling that I had before giving my first client massage.

During one of our first weekends of clinicals, I was requested by a known client who LOVES deep pressure. Knowing the other therapist in class who had given her a massage, I knew that I would not live up to their massage. Automatically I reverted back to my pre-clinical freak-out mode and believed that I would fail. During the massage the client kept telling me what a great job I was doing. I started to feel like I could do this! After the massage was over the client proceeded to tell me how she thought I had extra training and loved her massage.

Now, three weeks into clinical the feeling of panic and self-doubt has mostly subsided, but a tiny fraction still remains. By the time we are done with clinicals, I predict that the feeling will be 100% gone. I am on the way to no longer being a mad, panicked student and to becoming a confident massage therapist.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Massage School

Be punctual, prepared, and keep good notes. Wash your hands. When you are ready, the perfect teacher will arrive. Knowledge of Greek and Latin prefixes is beneficial. Don’t panic, tests are for your own growth – if you falter you can, and will, repeat the lesson. Nurture your Self. Strength lies in balance. Receive massage. Eat your vegetables. Drink plenty of water. Be cheerful. Exercise daily. “Ohm,” “Aah,” or just be still. Wear comfortable shoes.

Create a peaceful environment. Nourish the senses: aromatic candles, meditative music, and cotton flannel sheets. Every body is sacred. Be reverent. Warm your hands. Warm the room. Warm your heart. Talk less, listen more. Live open-minded. Beware of your prejudices. Refuse gossip. Value confidentiality. Be honest. Presence and intention are paramount. Wholeheartedly attend the moment. The lightest touch can heal. Transition with ease and grace. Spirit each move. Individual responses vary. Deep pressure. Gentle rocking. Embrace the difference. Stretch. Don’t pretend to be an expert on that which you are not. Never force. Never rush. “How’s the pressure?” Care. Pain is subjective. Laughter is healing, so are tears. The body remembers. It’s never too late to ice it. Forgive. Forgive yourself.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Challenge rules. Welcome possibilities. There is no routine. Let it flow. Create. Dance. Don’t forget to breathe. Deeply. Relax. Shoulders down. Knees loose. Move from your center. Trust intuition. The mind thinks, the heart knows. Believe in others. Believe in yourself and in your profession. Believe in a force greater than yourself.

Be gentle, be strong, be willing and the healing power of creation will flow through to benefit all you touch. From atom to universe, we are whole and all are connected. Honor all. Judge no one. Offer freely to those in need. Continue to learn. Share your knowledge. Respect. Expect respect. Strive to grown, every day. Be open to prosperity. Accept tips. Be grateful. Follow up and follow through. Success walks a determined step. Clarify aspirations. The path will clear. Dream specifics. Doors will open. Dream big. Thoughts manifest. Never give up. Never lose hope. And above all else, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

- Jo Sodona