A wrist massage at the hands of an SSMT alum

Course Descriptions

The SSMT Professional Massage Therapy Program is completed in 3 trimesters, with each course supporting the other courses in the trimester and preparing the student for what's to come.

Massage Theory and Practice
Swedish Massage Therapy

This course presents the theory, techniques and experience of Swedish massage therapy. It introduces touch as therapy and is designed to build skill level and sensitivity. Attention is given to the technical aspects of massage therapy, including the use of comfortable and efficient body mechanics to prevent injury. Professionalism is also emphasized; this includes hygiene, proper forms of draping, communication, and sensitivity to the emotional aspects of the massage experience. The student is guided by the instructor to touch and be touched in a manner that feels safe to both the therapist and the client.

Swedish Massage Practicum

Massage Practicum classes offer the students supervised practice, review and reinforcement of massage techniques presented in previous classes. The focus is on continuing to build the students’ practical skills and sensitivity.

Swedish Massage Clinic

Once the Swedish massage and the Clinic Orientation courses are completed, the student is prepared to practice in the faculty-supervised Swedish Massage Clinic. Here students provide full-body massage for relaxation to the general public. This provides invaluable experience that facilitates the transition from massage student to massage therapist.  The student may be required to engage in five hours of supervised service learning to meet the Swedish Massage Clinic requirement.  This will involve performing massage in the community if scheduling permits.  

Note that attendance in the first class of this course, Swedish Clinic Orientation, is required before beginning the Swedish Clinic rotation.

Advanced Student Clinic

Once students have successfully completed the Pathology, Hydrotherapy and Myology & NMT courses, they have the skills necessary for their next clinic experience, Advanced Student Clinic.  Here they provide clients with a series of treatments designed around a specific complaint and set up specific treatment plans focused on their client’s needs. The students will utilize basic neuromuscular therapy and may incorporate hydrotherapy and additional techniques into their treatment as they learn them. By following their client’s progress through a series of five sessions, students gain valuable clinical experience and continue their development of record-keeping skills and professional protocol.

Note that attendance in the first class of this course, Advanced Clinic Orientation, is required before beginning the advanced clinic rotation.

Swedish Massage Refinement

During the second and third trimesters, students revisit Swedish massage in a series of classes designed to refine their skills.  Some of these classes provide opportunities to practice full body Swedish massage, incorporating skills learned in other bodywork classes; others focus on refining particular skill sets such as deep tissue techniques, side-lying techniques, spa therapies and body mechanics.

Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular therapy is an effective means of treating pain arising from individual muscles.  After identifying the attachments and actions of specific muscles, the students locate the muscles on each other's bodies, noting the bony landmarks that serve as attachments for muscles.  Therapeutic techniques for treating individual muscles are then practiced and refined, with attention to learning the anatomy and further developing palpatory skill.

Neuromuscular Therapy Practicum

NMT practicum classes offer supervised practice, review, and reinforcement of techniques presented in the Myology and NMT classes.  These practicum classes provide an opportunity to continue building the students' practical and clinical skills, and to further hone their sensitivity.

Life Sciences
Anatomy & Physiology I

The study of that awesome and wonderful structure, the human body, is integral to body therapies. By learning about the body’s structures and how they work in health and disease, we gain an intimate knowledge of how our touch affects not only bodies, but also the people who inhabit them.

Anatomy is the scientific investigation of the body’s structure. The knowledge gained from this inquiry is the foundation of palpatory skill, the ability to assess the body through touch.

Physiology is the study of how our bodies, and their parts, work. One of the primary goals of all massage and bodywork disciplines is improvement in the functioning of the body’s individual parts and of the body as a whole. A&P I provides a thorough overview of Anatomy and Physiology. It also explores in detail the “mechanical body,” the muscles, bones and connective tissues that form the basis of our posture and locomotion. The study of individual muscles that is begun in A&P I will be continued in the A&P II, A&P III and Myology & NMT courses.

Anatomy & Physiology II

A&P II is an exploration of the “neural body,” the basis of our sensation, thought, emotions and responses. Of particular interest is the effect touch and movement therapies have on human perceptions and responses; the nervous system is studied with a goal of discovering some of the basic mechanisms that underlie the power of bodywork. In addition to investigating the nervous system, students will continue the study of individual muscles that was begun in A&P I.

Anatomy & Physiology III

A&P III is an exploration of the “fluid body,” the medium through which chemical messages are communicated through the body, as well as the nature of those messages. This inquiry takes us from the blood and lymph to the hormone-secreting glands, the nutrient-providing digestive tract and the toxin-removing urinary system. Of particular interest is the effect touch and movement therapies have on the flow of fluids and the impact this can have on the health of all our tissues. In addition to investigating these fluid systems, students will continue the study of individual muscles that was begun in A&P I.

Pathology

Pathology is the study of the processes of disease and dysfunction. An understanding of pathology is necessary for a massage therapist to understand how and when to work with people who have various medical conditions. Pathologies that affect each of the body’s systems will be examined, with a special emphasis on disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Allied Modalities
Bodywork Survey

This course will expose students to numerous forms of bodywork and will give them a wide variety of techniques that can be incorporated into their work. Ideas will be presented that are fundamental to the major systems of manual therapy. The various methods introduced will offer students a host of opportunities for further study following graduation and licensure. The classes are introductory in their scope and present a variety of bodywork specialties, including:

  • Asian Bodywork Theory
  • Strain-Counterstrain
  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Postural Analysis
  • Active Isolated Stretching
  • On-Site Massage
  • Myofascial Release
  • Ayurveda
  • Reflexology
  • Pregnancy Massage
  • Thai Massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Reiki
  • Sports Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Lymph Drainage Technique
Present-Centered Awareness

This course is designed to awaken in the students opportunities for growth. It also includes several classes that assist students at various transition points and increase their sensitivity to themselves and others.  The PCA classes will occur at transition points throughout the program.

Hydrotherapy

This course examines the therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits of water in its three phases: liquid, solid and gas. Students learn procedures utilizing mo ist and dry heat, ice and contrast therapy, and are introduced to spa therapies such as salt baths, paraffin treatments and hot stone massage.

Professionalism, Ethics & Public Safety
Practice Management

This course is an exploration of the attitudes and skills required to succeed as a bodyworker, whether in private practice or as an employee. It is designed to aid the student in joining those therapists who have profitable, fulfilling careers while honoring their values. Privileges and obligations relevant to all professionals, as well as those specific to bodywork, are presented. Topics include: professional communication, starting a business, marketing, taxes, medical insurance billing, and others.

Ethics

An investigation of ethics permeates the program and is an integral component of the self-awareness that is cultivated at SSMT. This short course further explores the process of identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas. Topics include appropriate boundaries, dual relationships, transference and counter-transference, scope of practice, confidentiality, and other concepts surrounding standards and values. 

Florida Massage Law

This course explores the history and statutes of the Florida Massage Practice Act, as well as the rules of the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. The student will be familiarized with the laws andrules governing the practice of massage therapy in Florida, as well as those governing the operation of a massage therapy establishment.

First Aid & CPR

These classes, presented by the American Red Cross, provide basic information that can save lives. These classes may be offered at any point in the program as scheduling permits.

HIV/AIDS Education

The science and epidemiology of HIV and AIDS are explored in this course, with an emphasis on simple standard precautions that all massage therapists should take to protect themselves from HIV infection. Special considerations for massage therapists who choose to work specifically with AIDS patients are also discussed. This 5-hour class may be offered at any point in the program as scheduling permits.

Preventing Medical Errors

This course examines the problem of medical errors and the steps health care providers are taking toward their reduction.Focus is placed on ways massage therapists can improve the health and safety of people under their care. The PME course consists of a single class that may be offered at any point in the program as scheduling permits.

Total

Awareness Based Learning

A variety of different treatment approaches are practiced in the massage therapy field. The Massage Therapy Program at SSMT provides a foundation in massage for relaxation, rehabilitation, integration, performance optimization, energy balancing, and somatic awareness. We particularly emphasize somatic awareness; many of the changes experienced by our clients can be understood as the effects of increased body awareness. A mindful focus on creating the space for this growth in ourselves and our clients is at the core of the SSMT curriculum.

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