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A massage therapist is a professional who is consulted when one wishes to relax, to do oneself, or to relieve pain. The profession of massage therapist requires human qualities, theoretical knowledge and specific skills. Since the therapist is working with a clientele that can be in a vulnerable situation, he or she must demonstrate empathy and listen to the patients’ needs. Thorough anatomical knowledge joined with a good judgment is a necessity to properly analyse the patients’ needs and decide of the appropriate care. Being in good shape and manual dexterity are also very helpful qualities when it comes to massage and mobilization techniques.
The initial training in massage therapy lasts 400 hours and can be staggered from 4 to 8 months, depending on whether the study is done part-time or full time. The training includes learning massage techniques, the human body anatomy as well as clients approach and ethics. With this training, the qualified candidate can offer its service as a massage therapist and be part of an the Réseau.
To strengthen its technique, a person who studies in massage therapy can pursue its training until reaching 1000 hours to be specialized in kinesitherapy and orthotherapy for example. It can take between 18 months and a little more than two years, depending if it is at full or part-time, for this training to be complete. The person who adds those specialities to its training will be able to practice therapeutic massages as well as to treat some musculoskeletal pathologies.
In Quebec, someone who desires to become a massage therapist has to know that the profession is not officially recognized as such by the government. Private academic institutions offer the training and deliver their own diploma and certificates, as well as some cegeps. For their services to be reimbursed to their clients by insurance companies, massage therapists must be members of a professional Association. The Réseau, after acknowledging the diploma and its training, will allow therapists to issue receipts to their clients.
The Réseau des massothérapeutes professionnels du Québec acknowledges the training programs of the massage therapy academic institutions who meet its requirements. To become a member of the Réseau, a massage therapist must meet the membership criteria for level 1 massage therapists.
Once the training is over and its membership to a professional Association is completed, the massage therapist can decide to work for an employer or to be self-employed. Massage therapists can also be hired by sports or fitness centers, by a massage therapy, physiotherapy, or multidisciplinary clinic or by beauty centers and spas.
Being self-employed in massage therapy signifies working from home but also working in establishments as mentioned above. Indeed, the self-employed massage therapist can be represented as an “entrepreneur” or a “service provider”; in the first case, he is completely independent, and in the second, he has the possibility to negotiate its contract with some companies that later on will become his or her clientele.