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Qualifications for Therapists
Brennan recommends that a person seeking therapeutic massage look for a well-trained professional. Most states, she says, require that massage therapists be licensed or registered. And the AMTA web site maintains a referral list of massage therapists who meet certain standards:
- Graduate from a minimum 500 in-class-hour massage therapy training program, or
- Pass the National Certification Examination in therapeutic massage and bodywork, or
- Possess a current AMTA-accepted license to practice, and
- Earn continuing education credit, and
- Uphold the AMTA Code of Ethics.
"If you are looking for someone dealing with chronic or acute pain issues, you may want to look for someone who does sports massage, neuromuscular massage therapy, orthopaedic massage, or someone who does craniosacral work or uses strain/counterstrain techniques," Brennan says. "But any list like this leaves out some qualified professionals. The best thing to do is to find a qualified massage therapist and talk with him or her about what you want massage for, be it relaxation or pain relief. Then ask what is their experience in addressing that issue."
Brennan says weekly massage is most effective but admits that not everyone has the time or money to get massage therapy that often.
Field, however, has a solution. Though there's no replacement for a qualified massage professional, she recommends that families learn basic massage techniques.
"In our studies, we try with adults to get them two 20-minute massages a week," she says. "With kids, we use parents as therapists so they can give their children massages every night, 10 minutes before bedtime. We say this because most of the children in our studies have chronic illnesses and can really benefit from a daily dose of massage."