Explorations in the Theory and Practice 
of Massage Therapy and Bodywork 

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Modalities (Types of Massage) Observations

The modalities section of this website was written after many months of research and many years of being in practice (15).  There are so many different disciplines and techniques.  These are only some of them.  After reading many websites information, they all started to seem the same.  The majority of the modalities claim to do these same things but with different techniques. Here are some common themes:

  1. Development of the Practitioner
  2. Breathing Techniques
  3. Meditation/developing intuition
  4. Releasing repressed emotions
  5. Releasing blocked energy
  6. Increasing energy flow
  7. Increased awareness

Many techniques were developed out of a need to heal a personal injury or that of a friend or family member.  Many techniques were developed as a family tradition and carried on for generations.  Many of the people who developed their own technique after studying one therapy and deciding there was a better way.  Often therapies were combined to come up with a new way of doing something and to make it their own.  Still others are just out there to make money.

After taking many workshops, can a teacher really teach you what they are doing?  If you have a class of 20 students learning the same technique, all of them will most likely come away with their own version of the technique, application, experience and view of what was taught.  Students often create a variation of the technique and make it their own.  No two people will ever be alike in the way their hands feel, work and create.  This is all part of the Art of Massage and Bodywork.

I looked at many varieties of modalities to study and ended up focusing on Zentherapy® training.  This was after receiving a treatment from a very talented practitioner of Zentherapy®.  When I got off the table I said "Wow, what did you do to me?".  I spent the next 6 years studying the same techniques and realized that it wasn't really the technique it was the person who gave me the treatment, as I never quite experienced the same feeling throughout the intense training.
On the other hand, learning as many tools as possible may enhance your own system of massage and treatments.  It is important to make them your own and integrate them into your life and work as you see is necessary.  You may even find the best workshop ever and never use the technique again. So choosing an area to study is a difficult task with so many things available, and not enough time or money to do them all.
To really learn a specific massage system- I think a minimum of 5 years of practicing it is needed in most cases.  You can say you are a cranio-sacral therapist after a weekend workshop - but what you are really doing, in my opinion, is practicing it while you work.  It takes time to integrate what you have learned, time to practice it in your own way and make it your own work.

See also: Bodywork and Baking Bread




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