Certifiably Certified Part 2 (…of 3!) Who offers Certification?

(Missed Part 1? Check it out here!)

We feel that the combination of our in-class practical and post-class self-study Certification program holds our graduates to a high standard of safety, precision in application, and a deep understanding of the material presented in class, allowing them to rise to a new level of excellence within the massage therapy community while professionally representing the DeepFeet® brand.

Your first step in the right direction to becoming “Ashiatsu Certified” is to complete your beginner level Barefoot Basics® training with an Authorized DeepFeet® Instructor, listed here. Within this course you will be assessed on the application of strokes learned when you massage your instructor, as well as when you massage a volunteer guest client in class. After training, your own self-study Certification process begins with documented 20 practical sessions and testing based on the information provided in class. We have 3 different levels of certification available as you progress through your training. (A level of certification comes after your Barefoot Basics, Ashi-Thai, and Advanced Ashiatsu courses.) Once trained and certified in all levels, we consider you a “Master Level” graduate, which has its perks.  You can read more about the Ashiatsu DeepFeet Bar Therapy® Certification Process here.

We aren’t the only ones in the profession who feel this type of process is essential!

Advanced_massage_certificationIn 2009, I read a Massage Magazine article called Certification: A Personal Journey, by Tanga Cleeve, CST.  It struck a chord with me, impressing the importance of accountability and honor to the lineage of my training at a very early stage in my massage career. I saved this article and I refer my students to it often: please read and enjoy this article here, then you can also research how strenuous and amazing the Upledger Institutes certification program that she went through, as outlined here.

Mana Lomi® is another example of a modality that has additional requirements outside of the classroom training experience to earn their Certificate of Endorsement… you can read more about their process here. Don’t just take our word for it, Barbara Helynn Heard, a practitioner and instructor for Mana Lomi® says this about her appreciation for consistency and standards held for her technique:

“I began to experience inner conflict when I studied with native Hawaiian teachers of lomilomi who expressed displeasure at the situation where non Hawaiians (including me…) changed lomilomi as we’ve passed it from person to person without maintaining connection to its source, and then marketed this massage by identifying it as Hawaiian. I’ve heard layers of pain and resentment about this situation from native Hawaiians. I’ve heard Hawaiians say things like, “It may be great work, but please don’t call it lomilomi, please don’t call it Hawaiian.”

lomi-lomi-certificationI began studying with Mana Lomi® founder Dr. Maka’ala Yates in 2003, and have continued to be mentored by him since then. Maka’ala is a native Hawaiian person raised on the Big Island; his most influential teacher is Aunty Margaret Machado, also from the Big Island.

I teach Mana Lomi® with Maka’ala’s guidance and full support. In turn, I support Maka’ala whenever the opportunity arises. I attend classes Maka’ala teaches every year. Occasionally he sits in on my classes to ensure that the material I teach is consistent with what he teaches, though our teaching styles are different. I regularly communicate with Maka’ala by phone and email. I treasure our strong connection.

Years ago Maka’ala trademarked the name Mana Lomi® and created a certificate of endorsement program as one way to help Mana Lomi® maintain its identity, and to help maintain connections and support within the Mana Lomi® community. If students take only our shorter, non-core classes, or if they take the core program but do not follow up with earning a certificate of endorsement, they have not earned the privilege of promoting themselves as Mana Lomi® practitioners… What becoming certified in doing Mana did for me was to give me a supportive structure to solidify much of what I learned in class. Without the structure of the certification process I probably wouldn’t have had the self-discipline to consistently and repeatedly practice what I’d learned in class.”

The Father of contemporary Chair Massage, David Palmer, enacted Certification for his TouchPro technique. Here’s what he has to say, as explained on his website:

“Everyone who completes the Technique or the Marketing seminars receives a Certificate of Attendance at the end of class. This is to verify those hours for any continuing education requirements you may have, including requirements for the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
TouchPro Certification, on the other hand, is a private credential issued by TouchPro Institute. It is a so-called “brand name” certification, similar to Trager®, Feldenkrais®, Rolfing®, Polarity® and many others in our industry. TouchPro Certification indicates that a practitioner has had specialty training in chair massage and rises to a high standard of excellence. Certified Practitioners have the right to use the TouchPro name and logo in their marketing.”

Leslie Forrester, a licensed massage therapist just outside Tampa, Florida, has experience with using Certification to enhance her massage practice. Certified in both ACE Massage Cupping and BambooFusion massage, she has used both modalities to add to her toolbelt.

leslieforrester“Actually spending the time and money to get certified made a big difference. It gave me the confidence to add a new type of session for my clients with BambooFusion, for example. With hands-on learning, in a more extensive class setting, you know that you have it. The instructor can see what you do and correct mistakes. Too many people buy the kit and the video and call it a day. You may not have the confidence to use the modality after that, and that’s money wasted. And without certification you can’t get the referrals from the source – I’ve gotten people who have researched and seen me listed on the ACE Massage Cupping and the BambooFusion websites. I think it says something when people have a dedication to improving themselves and their work.”

The idea of creating a certification process within a technique is appealing not only to maintain a more pure lineage of training from a source, but also appeals to massage techniques with original, genuine and unique protocols or content who want to maintain consistency in their students approach. Robert Gardner tells me this:

“I’m considering offering certification for my courses. Thai Massage CertificationWhat occurred to me recently was that certification allows me to set my own standards for students who pass through my classes… If there’s no quality control what happens 10 or more years from now? I don’t want to see what I do get watered down and sold off in mass produced poor quality sessions… In the absence of specific regulation for Thai massage it allows me to up the ante and set the bar high for students who want to put my name on what it is that they’re doing. With certification I can certify them to a certain level that allows some degree of designation of who they studied with and to what level. The certification should present a higher degree of professionalism... “

These are just a few examples of many certification processes that are out there within the modalities of our profession.

On a CE provider level, the NCBTMB, or any other accreditation source in the massage profession (as far as I’m aware) has not yet consistently defined exactly what an internal certification process should be for the profession. As these national level boards and associations may not be able to monitor the achievement, understanding and application of each individual graduate within each modality to the same level that the experts of each of these specialty modalities could, I’m not sure that it actually IS something these governing/licensing/regulating/accrediting sources should be responsible for. Delegating the quality of each technique for the specialty source to manage is an efficient way to make sure that nationally recognized modalities can vouch for, challenge, and further educate their students while maintaining integrity in their approach to massage therapy. I feel that if the boards could support and vouch for their long standing supporting modalities by better vetting the originality and authenticity of new applicant’s course material, a lot could be done in the way of preventing technique replication in the profession.

My suggestion for anyone looking for their next CE class is to consider the pioneering institutions that have consistently over time helped to advance the massage profession with safe, effective, quality bodywork…. choose to train with these ethical totems of the community, and take your own personal journey through their expectations of certification, so that we can raise the entire realm of massage therapy to a higher level.

Are you trained AND certified in a specialty technique?

Please share your experience with their processes and how you felt it’s deepens your practice in the comments below!


Read Part 3 of this blog series here!

Ashiatsu Deepfeet Bar Therapy® is the leader in Continuing Education for Massage Therapists  nationwide. Our method of deep tissue barefoot Swedish massage using an over head support system has improved the quality of life for many massage therapists around the world. Learn more at www.deepfeet.com.