Standards for Massage Therapy Students

Standards for Massage Therapy Students

Academic Abilities

Basic academic abilities:
  • Read English at a basic 12th grade level as defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 
  • Write English to a basic 9th grade level as defined by the NAEP. 
  • Complete math computations to a basic 7th grade level as defined by the NAEP. 
  • Use technology at a basic level for postsecondary students as defined by the (NETS). Descriptions of technology abilities are described in various resources at
Goal setting:
  • Determine his or her personal goals related to school, career, health, family and friends, and finances.
  • Write long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals based on a goal-writing method (e.g., SMART).
  • Identify and list in sequential order the tasks and actions required to achieve goals. *Troubleshoot obstacles and challenges to goal achievement
  • Track progress in achieving goals.
  • Evaluate success or failure and determine next steps
  • Modify goals as interests and understanding changes.
© 2013 Coalition of National Massage Therapy Organizations Page 25 3.
Time management:
  • Write monthly, weekly, and daily schedules (e.g., use an appointment book or app).
  • Use a syllabus and look ahead to schedule study sessions. 
  • Write detailed study plans (what the learner intends to study during a study session). 
  • Plan time to accomplish tasks and activities related to goals.
  • Make weekly and daily to-do lists.
  • Prioritize tasks to meet deadlines.
  • Make effective use of downtime (walking, driving, or other “dead” time) for study.
  • Recognize procrastination and use personal motivation methods to avoid it.
Study abilities: 
  • Use effective methods to identify and learn new words:
  • Identify unknown words (highlight in reading assignments, ask for definitions during lectures, etc.).
  • Keep vocabulary lists of new words with definitions.
  • Use a glossary or dictionary to look up words. 
  • Ask for correct pronunciation of words and practice pronouncing new words aloud.
  • Create flash cards or use picture cards to associate new words to pictures or to known words. 
  • Regularly attempt to integrate words into communications with teachers and peers.
  • Take effective notes from reading assignments:
  • Understand textbook features and how to use them (e.g., learning objectives, key words, chapter outlines, tables, charts, graphs, and figures, summaries, review questions, etc.).
  • Regularly utilize an effective reading system (i.e., a systematic method for accomplishing reading assignments that usually includes a preview component, an active reading component, and a review component). 
  • Identify key words and concepts and capture them in written notes. 
  • Utilize an effective note format (use of note forms, graphic organizer, etc.). 
  • Take effective notes from lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and classroom activities: 
  • Listen actively.
  • Share ideas. 
  • Ask questions and follow-up questions to clarify understanding. © 2013 Coalition of National Massage Therapy Organizations Page 26
  • Use a consistent note-taking format (e.g., outline method, block form, use of note forms, use of graphic organizer, etc.). 
  • Complete homework on or before homework deadlines:
  • Write down homework deadlines. 
  • Clarify expectations by reading directions carefully and asking follow-up questions to instructor. 
  • Schedule adequate time to complete homework assignments. 
  • Prepare for written quizzes, exams, and verbal practical examinations effectively: i. Use effective memorization strategies to move information into long-term memory.
  • Schedule adequate time to learn material. 
  • Use effective test-taking strategies to achieve good evaluation scores:
  • Demonstrate methods to reduce test anxiety. 
  • Approach test taking strategically (e.g., answer every question even with a best guess, underline key words, cross out wrong answers, etc.).
  • Learn from graded tests (e.g., identify where test content is sourced, identify flaws in vocabulary, etc.).
Critical and creative thinking abilities: 
(Based on the Tricia Armstrong Model): 
  • Observe: The ability to use the senses analytically to gather information.
  • Generate ideas: The ability to focus attention, enliven prior knowledge, and generate new thoughts.
  • Ask questions: The ability to identify what information is useful and needed and elicit it from instructors or resource materials. 
  • Connect: The ability to see and make connections by linking objects, ideas, processes, and concepts. 
  • Make analogies: The ability to compare two dissimilar objects, ideas, or processes by focusing on qualities they have in common.
  • Recognize patterns: The ability to identify arrangements of qualities, forms, styles, shapes, colors, and designs to explore the interrelationship of parts in a whole.
  • Solve problems: The ability to identify and define problems, generate possible solutions, make decisions, select the best solution, and test new solutions to make adaptations or refinements.
  • Transform: The ability to internalize information and present it in a different way. 
  • Synthesize-The ability to put parts together to form wholes. 
© 2013 Coalition of National Massage Therapy Organizations Page 276.
Interpersonal and relating abilities
  • Establish healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with others. 
  • Treat others with respect and listen to their points of view. 
  • Manage interpersonal conflicts effectively.
  • Demonstrate appropriately assertive behavior.
  • Seek help from others when needed.
  • Offer assistance to others. 
  • Share goals with others or with groups and work cooperatively with others, including people with different points of view.
Personal development abilities
  • Assess, articulate, and acknowledge personal skills, abilities, and growth areas
  • Use self-knowledge to make decisions.
  • Articulate the rationale for personal behavior and explore the values and principles involved in personal decision making
  • Seek and consider feedback from others.
  • Reflect to gain insight and learn from past experiences. 
  • Act in congruence with professional values and beliefs.
  • Function without the need for reassurance from others.
  • Balance the needs of self with the needs of others.
  • Accept personal accountability for choices, actions, and outcomes. 
Personal health and self-care
  • Practice regular personal hygiene. 
  • Understand how choices related to food selection and exercise influence health.
  • Commit to getting enough sleep.
  • Identify responsible health behaviors and demonstrate strategies to improve or maintain personal health.
  • Set personal health goals and track progress.
  • Use self-determined methods to reduce stress.
Technical Standards
All students in the River Valley Community College (RVCC) massage therapy program must be able to perform diverse, complex, and specific functions and skills. Technical and professional standards for massage therapy are essential duties which speak to a student’s ability to participate and be successful in the nursing program. These attributes include, but are not limited to personal and professional skills, physical agility, medical safety and other requirements that individuals must possess in order to be eligible for satisfactory completion of the program of study as well as for the desired field of massage therapy. 
These attributes must be demonstrated with or without reasonable accommodation as described under the American’s with Disabilities Act. 
The qualifications established by the faculty include but are not limited to the following essential technical standards:
Motor Skills
  1. The ability to perform full range of motion of body joints, fine motor movements of the hands, and the ability to stoop and bend.
  2. The ability to elicit information from clients.
  3. The ability to execute movements required to provide massage therapy treatment to clients in a variety of settings.
  4. The ability to lift up to 40 pounds of weight on a daily basis.
  5. The ability to carry objects weighing up to 40 pounds on a daily basis.
  1. The ability to observe a client accurately at a distance and close at hand.  This requires functional use of the senses of vision and hearing.
  2. The ability to perceive the signs of disease and infection as manifested through physical and verbal assessment.
  3. The ability to observe and appreciate non-verbal communications.
  4. The ability to use spoken and written English to communicate in a coherent manner with individuals of all professions and societal levels.
  5. The ability to convey or exchange information at a level allowing development of a health history; identify problems presented; explain alternative solutions; and give directions during treatment and post-treatment.
  6. The ability to process and communicate information on the client’s status with accuracy in a timely manner to members of the health care team.
Professional Conduct/Behavioral
  1. The ability to utilize intellectual abilities, exercise good judgment, and promptly complete all responsibilities of a massage therapist.
  2. The ability to maintain mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with clients, students, faculty, staff and other professionals under all circumstances.
  3. The ability to recognize that one’s own values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and experiences affect one’s perceptions and relationships with others.
  4. The ability to function effectively under stress and to adapt to an environment that may change rapidly without warning and/or in unpredictable ways.
  5. The ability to learn and abide by professional standards of practice.
  6. The ability to engage in client interaction in all settings and be able to deliver massage therapy to all clients, including but not limited to children, adolescents, adults, developmentally disabled persons, medically compromised patients, and vulnerable adults.
  7. The ability to maintain composure when subjected to high stress levels.
  8. The ability to adapt effectively to changing environments, especially those with high tension levels.
  9. The ability to respond in an emotionally controlled manner in learning situations and emergencies.
(Adapted from the Entry Level Analysis Project)
Health Requirements
RVCC Massage Therapy students may be required by a Practicum site to provide evidence of medical examination (including immunizations) and a background check. The cost shall be the responsibility of the student.
Emotional Health Considerations
The college must ensure that clients, patients and medical information are not placed in jeopardy by students during learning experiences.  Therefore, massage therapy students must demonstrate professional behavior and sufficient emotional stability to withstand the stresses, uncertainties, and changing circumstances that characterize client/patient medical information, privacy and safety responsibilities or be removed from placement.   Furthermore, the student is required to have the emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment, accept direction and guidance from a supervisor or faculty member, and establish rapport and maintain sensitive interpersonal relationships with employers, clients/patients and their families as well as fellow students.   Students that are unable to exhibit these traits will be asked to leave the program.
CPR and First Aid Certifications
Students must possess current Adult CPR and First Aid certifications prior to applying for a New Hampshire Massage Therapy License.  A copy of the certification must be submitted to the state with the license application.

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