Interview With Massage Therapist Jeanenne Ham

Jeanenne is a massage student in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. She is attending the Cortiva Institute of Massage just outside Philadelphia in King of Prussia, PA and will be graduating soon. She is very excited about her education and the possibilities it offers as you can tell from her interview responses.

With all the career choices available, how did you decide to become a massage therapist?



Interview with Massage TherapistThe decision to become a MT was made after I had relieved some neck pain and a headache from a close friend.  I realized at that point that it gave me an enormous feeling of satisfaction to help someone in a natural, non-medical way.

I put two and two together, realizing that I had always offered to give people a shoulder or back rub if I noticed they were in pain and how naturally it came for me to do so.

Was there anyone in your life who was inspirational in your decision?

Actually the friend who received the neck and shoulder massage that day suggested that I might follow it as a career choice.  I took that advice and ran with it.

Is this a first career for you and if not, what were you doing before this?

This is a first career for me that is of my own choosing.  Other career’s such as Administrative Assistant, Customer Service operator and bartender/server were just my way of paying the bills until I could decide where my niche was in the job market.

What massage school are you attending and how did you decide on attending this school? (Location, cost, reputation, schedule)

I am attending Cortiva Institute of Massage in King of Prussia, PA.  It offers both full & part-time classes for six months to 1 year respectably.  It has a great reputation as a top five in the state.  I had actually received a gift certificate for massage for Cortiva and had a great experience so I decided to look into their curriculum.

What advise would you give to someone trying to choose a massage school? What should they be asking themselves?

The best advice I can give for choosing a massage school is to check out the option’s online, such as this web site.  Also if you haven’t ever received a massage I would highly recommend it, not only because if you have a good experience you can ask the therapist where they received their training and it’s the recommendation of instructor’s in most schools in order to know what is involved with a massage.

The main objective I believe prospective students should ask themselves is “What do I want to get out of this curriculum?”  Whether its a time factor, comprehensive coverage of all available massage modalities, instructor to student ratio, etc.

What are you finding most interesting about your training?

I think that the most interesting aspect of my training is learning the wide array of indications for massage and how each method learned can enable a person’s body to heal itself more quickly.

What is the one aspect of your training that surprised you more than you would have thought?

One aspect of my training that has been surprisingly easy to adapt to was the method in which we learn hands on technique.  In the classroom setting it can be unsettling at first to be on a table with a room full of classmates, but that quickly becomes secondary to the amount of knowledge gained through the learning process.

How physically difficult is your training?

Depending on how physically active a person is prior to beginning the training will determine how difficult it will be.  Because the training is teaching you how best to use body mechanics and leverage I would compare it to yoga or pilates.  It’s gradual and you move at your own pace.

What percentage of you school training is lecture and what percentage is hands on?

It is 50/50.  Because I am taking the courses part time I have two to three nights of hands on and one day /wk. lecture on Musculoskeletal anatomy/kineseology,  We also receive a brief lecture before each hands on session and an online course focuses on business and ethics.

After you graduate, do you want to work for yourself or become employed as therapist with larger establishment?

Upon graduation if you have not already found a place to start, most school’s offer job placement.  Personally I plan to begin in a spa setting in order to gain more hands on experience with the business aspect and gradually move to a similar spa/office setting out of my home.

Is there a particular field of massage that interests you and you would like to learn more about?

I have found that Swedish massage offers the therapeutic and relaxation techniques that I prefer to use, however I am only in my second quarter and there will be numerous introductions to other modalities such as: Lomi Lomi, Hot Rocks, Cross Fiber Friction and Sports Massage.  I am open to learning each of these and excited to find out if any of these will enhance my repertoire.

What personal characteristics do you think are necessary for someone who wants to become a massage therapist?

There are definite character traits a person entering this field should possess and I have found this to be true with everyone I’ve come into contact with.  A person who is very kind hearted and interested in being attentive to helping others without necessarily expecting to gain monetarily (at least in the beginning).  Having a passion for this line of work is very important because it is the necessary catalyst to launch your career.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of receiving massages on a regular basis?

In my opinion the benefits of receiving massage are numerous.  It allows your body to naturally oxygenate the blood flow to various muscles thereby facilitating the natural healing process.  Now research suggests massage can ease insomnia, boost immunity, especially effective for lower back pain, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reduces blood pressure and can ease distress from migraine, labor and even cancer.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career as a massage therapist?

The best advice I think I can give to anyone thinking of endeavoring on this career is that if they have a gift for recognizing and empathizing with people’s needs then this is a great choice.  It’s a career that can require a great deal of energy at times, but will ultimately be the most rewarding field for the person that wants to care for people.

Be prepared also for continuing education because in this field, depending on the state you live in, there will be a requirement for national certification after you become state certified and that will be an ongoing process throughout your career.

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