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How Do Student Clinics Work in Massage Therapy?

There are probably some professions that require nothing but book knowledge and technical understanding – but many careers absolutely require field experience before a student can be certified to work professionally. Massage therapy is one of those fields. It’s true that a lot can be learned from books, videos, demonstrations and classroom settings, but becoming a professional massage therapist is a ‘hands on’ experience if there ever was one. So much of the profession revolves around applied techniques and knowledge that can only be passed on interactively, with a patient involved.

This is basically the reason for the existence of student clinics in massage therapy schools. It wouldn’t be enough to read books, have classroom discussions, watch the instructors, or have students practice on each other. These are all vital parts of attending a high-quality massage therapy school; but practicing on live patients is a vital aspect of acquiring knowledge and building confidence.

So how exactly do these student clinics work?

The answer is usually simple: They generally work just like regular massage clinics. You call, make an appointment, show up, and have a massage therapy treatment from a student. But hold on a second. You might be asking: Why would anybody choose to be worked on by a student, instead of a fully-trained and experienced therapist? The answer is two-fold.

First, the price is right. Student clinics bring people through the door by charging rates that are often considerably lower than the industry standard. It’s not unusual to receive a sixty-minute treatment for $20-$40 dollars at some student clinics. The lower price is your reward for being willing to help a budding therapist who is trying to build confidence and apply what they’ve learned in class.

Second, the quality of treatment at this level quite often exceeds expectations. By the time students are working on actual patients in the student clinic, they’ve learned a lot about massage therapy, and have spent a lot of time practicing on fellow students.

Every great massage therapist has to start somewhere, and in large part, that ‘somewhere’ is the student clinic. Here is where the therapist-in-training will give his or her first treatments to real patients. Often times, students are paying very keen attention during these treatments, and putting in a strong effort to deliver a high-quality massage. Of course, there may be a hiccup here or there – but it’s nothing that good communication can’t solve.

This brings up another important point: When people visit a student clinic, they might feel more comfortable offering guidance to the student – especially in terms of pressure and areas of the body you want to work on. It’s a well-known fact that many patients of experienced therapists stay quiet, even if they wished the pressure would be lighter or softer, or would like the therapist to work longer on a particular part of the body. Being in a student clinic really allows the patient and therapist-in-training to learn from each other, and both can receive valuable benefits and experience as a result.

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