Skills Checklist for Massage Therapists

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Massage therapists must have skills to treat patients.
Massage therapists must have skills to treat patients. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Massage therapists provide treatment for patients to relieve muscle aches and pains due to injuries. The therapist may provide relief for patients suffering from stress as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require massage therapists to obtain a license to practice. In addition to licensing requirements, massage therapists must have skills and knowledge to provide treatment to patients.

Body Knowledge

Massage therapy programs provide students with coursework in anatomy, physiology and body mechanics. The massage therapy program teaches the therapist how massage techniques can relieve pain in the body. The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which state licensure may require therapists to pass, tests the candidate’s knowledge of the body’s systems such as the skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, lymphatic, respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and reproductive systems. Candidates must have knowledge of medical terminology as well to pass the examination.

Communication Skills

Massage therapists must be good communicators to discuss massage techniques and the pain a patient experiences. A therapist must be able to put the patient at ease during a massage session. The massage therapist must have a friendly personality to encourage trust with the client.

Types of Massage

The massage therapist must have knowledge and skills in the various types of massage or modalities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, therapists may specialize in one or more of 80 types of massage such as deep tissue, Swedish, acupressure and sports massage.

Safety Procedures

Massage therapists must be skilled in safety procedures such as CPR and first aid. The therapist must have the ability to gauge the appropriate amount of pressure to use with a client. Licensing ensures that the candidate has the skills and knowledge to provide treatment to patients safely.

Business Skills

Massage therapy programs also include coursework in business skills. The self-employed massage therapist must have the skills to manage a business such as accounting, marketing and business ethics. Massage therapists must understand privacy laws, recordkeeping practices and requirements for liability insurance. Therapists who employ workers must have management skills. The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork tests the therapist's knowledge in these areas as well.

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