Positive Influence – Part 1
The Paths to Becoming a Massage Therapy Instructor
Serving as a Massage Therapy Instructor and Continuing Education Provider has been a vehicle that has facilitated the opening of my heart and my intellect in unimaginable ways as part of my devotion to a path of service. When you look within yourself and evaluate your life, do you feel that you have the desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others? You could actualize this goal by becoming a Massage Therapy Instructor (MTI). Not only would you be living a virtuous life of service, you would concurrently be adding another stream of income to your professional portfolio. If you find this path to be of interest, here are some guidelines that will help facilitate your success.
Remember, as Pericles so aptly stated, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” There was a point in my life about sixteen years ago when I knew that I wanted to leave more of a legacy than shifting traces on moving sands. I began focusing on deeper levels of developing myself in ways that are beneficial to the world around me while pursuing a soul-satisfying career.
Now, let’s begin this journey by taking a look at what unfolded as my process of becoming an MTI and how I learned to offer continuing education classes. As I reflect on my experience, it all seemed like a very natural flow for which I am deeply grateful; however, at the beginning of my career as an educator, it was incredibly challenging since there were no schools or classes that I was aware of that were designed specifically for guiding and training MTIs.
My Path to Becoming a Massage Therapy Instructor
My career in massage began 34 years ago when I first opened my massage therapy practice in a medical environment. I was fortunate to study with excellent core curriculum instructors and subsequently with some amazing MTIs and continuing education providers. They inspired on my path to becoming an educator in the massage profession.
The foundation for teaching was laid when I began my academic career at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1979 I was awarded a B.A. and a B.F.A. from UT. Subsequently, I participated in graduate studies in the psychology program at JFK University and in the counseling and guidance program at Texas State University (formerly known as Texas State Teachers’ College). Throughout my university career, I participated in numerous courses that helped me develop linguistic skills and deepen my research literacy, which ultimately made me a better educator. I also observed the various teaching styles of my instructors and learned about effective and ineffective teaching methods as I continued to learn and grow through experiences in academia.
While living in northern Quebec from 1993 to 1995, I developed curriculum and taught English as a Second Language courses in my English language school, L’Ecole Ariana de la Langue Anglaise. The majority of my students were adult learners whose native language was French. I taught in St. Ambroise, Chicoutimi, and LaBaie, in Quebec, Canada. Two other ESL teachers in the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region of Quebec taught me how to develop my course curriculum and how to create interesting learning activities for my students. Their mentoring and guidance was invaluable. I also learned a significant amount about the educational process for adult learners from my phenomenal French teacher, Lily Martel, with whom I studied in LaBaie, Quebec, while I was teaching English as a Second Language. I adapted many of the teaching techniques and exercises that Lily incorporated in our French language class to my English as a Second Language classes. I will be forever grateful for my Canadian mentors for their roles in helping form me as an educator.
In 1999, when I returned to the U.S., I was fortunate enough to study with an excellent massage therapy instructor, Irene Watson, who kindly took me under her wing and provided resources and inspiration as I learned how to create and teach advanced continuing education massage courses. She influenced me greatly in my career as a Massage Therapy Instructor. When we first met, Irene was a skilled business instructor at a massage school in Austin, Texas. When she retired from teaching, she invited me to come to her home and peruse the numerous teaching materials she had accumulated throughout her career. I carefully studied her material and combined that with my own independent research and I developed my first continuing education class – Marketing and Practice Building. Receiving mentoring, doing research, and participating in hundreds of advanced CE courses helped broaden my horizons and deepen my insights into the intricacies of teaching adults in the massage community since, to the best of my knowledge, there were no MTI courses available sixteen years ago when I began teaching.
Later that year, Texas enacted a regulation that every new MTI applicant be required to participate in a 30-hour Teaching Adult Learners’ course in order to become a state-approved MTI, I saw a need in the massage community and I developed and designed The Ariana Institute’s online 30-hour Teaching Adult Learner’s Massage Therapy Instructor Course. The Ariana Institute’s MTI course was originally approved in Texas in 1999 and it is currently approved in the majority of states in the U.S. Once I obtained approval to offer the MTI course in Texas, the next step was to obtain national certification.
In 2002, the MTI course was approved for 30-hours of CE credit by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). I chose NCBTMB certification because I have consistently been impressed with the excellent work that NCBTMB does to support members of the massage community in their refinement of the educational process, through social media resources at national and local massage conferences and conventions, and on their beautifully designed website which lists NCBTBM approved massage therapists and NCBTBM approved continuing education providers. It is an organization that exemplifies the importance of focusing on integrity and professionalism of massage therapists on a national level. I am honored to continue being a part of the NCBTMB as a Board Certified massage therapist and an NCBTMB Approved Provider of Continuing Education. I highly recommend alignment with NCBTMB because not only does it serve to enhance your name recognition and marketing opportunities, but you also become part of a larger community of kindred spirits who are focused on professionalism in the massage community.
The Ariana Institute MTI course has been a very popular and well-received course and the testimonials that have been written by my students have all been positive. Here is a testimonial that I was honored to receive from Jonathan Walker, “I have known Ariana for 25 years and have always felt uplifted and appreciated in her company. She has served as both my teacher and my massage therapist and, on occasion, I have been honored to return the favor in kind. In a word, everybody wins when they come to Ariana. Whether it is in her classroom, the treatment room or working through one of her many well-designed online educational courses. Call or email her with a question and she gets right back with you, over and again if necessary, until you get what you need. She treats you right.” Additional testimonials appear on my website for potential students to review and utilize as part of their decision-making process when researching MTI courses and CE courses.
Another facet in the evolution of what seemed to be a very organic flow in my educational journey unfolded as I participated in numerous advanced continuing education courses and attended local and national conferences, including conferences presented by the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), and the Texas Association of Massage Therapists (TAMT). Over the course of my 34 years as a massage therapist, I participated in CE courses and conferences in order to be well informed about the subject matter being presented and also to observe the teaching styles of other instructors. During the 16 years I have been a Texas approved MTI and Continuing Education Provider and the 13 years I have been an NCBTMB approved Continuing Education Provider, I feel that I have been fortunate to grow and evolve as an educator as a result of participating in a multitude of educational experiences.
In my journey to becoming an educator, the winning combination included being a massage therapist for many years, studying in an academic environment, receiving mentoring from experts in the field, researching and observing the educational process, attending advanced CE classes and workshops, and receiving state and national approval as an educator. The culmination of years of dedication to the massage profession that I love has created a matrix that serves as a foundation for the Ariana Institute’s MTI class that exists today.
Now that we’ve followed my rather circuitous path to becoming a Massage Therapy Instructor and developing courses for Licensed Massage Therapists and Massage Therapy Instructors. Join me for my next blog post where we will delve into the general process of becoming a trained and qualified Massage Therapy Instructor.
The information above includes excerpts for an article “Positive Influence: Become a Massage Therapy Instructor,” by Ariana Vincent, originally published in the June 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.
To learn more about an MTI course and to register for the Ariana Institute’s online MTI course, visit: http://www.arianainstitute.com/ce-online/#mti