Qualified Thai Massage Therapists

Thai Healing Alliance therapist guidelines: Thai Healing Alliance proposes a minimum of 250 hours of study with two or more teachers or schools over a period of not less than 18 months. THAI considers all long-term programs of study and “teacher training programs” as valid only for 50% of total required hours. In addition, therapists must have practiced without compensation for 100 hours or more; and must pursue continuing education courses each year. A list of Registered Thai Therapists is available at this link.


How to find a qualified Thai massage therapist

Unfortunately, there are people who practice or teach Thai massage without adequate knowledge or study experience. For the most part, the words “certified” and “certification” mean very little in the realm of Thai massage training, because there is no uniform regulation or licensure for the practice in most countries around the world. Some States, Provinces and countries that require licenses in order to practice Western (table) massage also allow those therapists to legally practice Thai massage, even if they studied for only a few days at a continuing education class. On the other hand, there are serious and dedicated Thai massage students who study for many years and yet they are not recognized by local massage boards. Some new practitioners may study only for a few weeks or months before beginning to charge money for their services. All too often, students who take a hurried approach to learning emerge as unaccomplished and unrefined practitioners. Mixing Thai massage with other established modalities such as western table massage and yoga is also common. These hybrid forms may include elements of Thai healing arts, but they shouldn’t be confused with, or presented as traditional Thai massage.


Since Thai massage inherited some passive stretches from early Indian traditions, some students and therapists get the impression that Thai massage should be based entirely on assisted yoga techniques, but that is hardly the case. If your Thai massage therapist simply stretches and compresses you into yoga positions without working on the energy lines with acupressure, and without stopping and assessing your body properly, then you are not reaping the full holistic benefit of traditional Thai massage. These days, Thai massage has become so popular that it is sometimes mixed with other Western and Asian modalities such as table massage, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, osteopathy and acrobatics. These hybrid forms may use the word “Thai” and may include elements of traditional Thai massage, but they shouldn’t be confused with, or presented and marketed as traditional Thai massage. Don’t be fooled.


In Thailand, massage (nuad) belongs to one of the branches of Thai medicine, and it evolved in Thailand where stillness and softness are important cultural norms. Thai massage can sometimes be deep, but a true therapist knows how to work deeply without causing pain or distress to the receiver. If you have received a Thai massage where you were hurt or uncomfortable, your therapist was probably not very skilled or adequately trained.


Choose your therapist wisely

Unfortunately, many students lack the discipline, humility, or personal development that is required in order to take a slow and comprehensive approach toward learning. The Western model of learning in “levels” complicates the situation even further. Some teachers and schools in Thailand and around the world respond to this by marketing their courses in levels, and by creating and promoting curricula that claim to certify students as practitioners or teachers in a short period of time. Some new practitioners may study only for a few weeks or months before beginning to charge money for their services. All too often, students who take a hurried approach to learning emerge as unaccomplished and unrefined practitioners.


Traditional Thai massage isn’t merely a sequence of techniques and movements that can be applied to all people. Teachers and schools that train students to follow proprietary fixed sequences for all clients may be hindering students from growing into deeply sensitive therapists. Along the way, there must be adaptation, exploration and experience with a wide variety of different people. Generally speaking, only after several years of practice and study can one develop the sensitivity and awareness that is needed to effectively work with each person in an individualized fashion.


It is important for consumers to thoroughly investigate a prospective therapist before making an appointment for a Thai massage. When searching for a therapist, check the person’s study and training history. If their teachers and lineage are not listed on their web site or in their promotional information, ask them how long have they studied Thai massage and with whom. Have they studied in Thailand? If so, when was the last time they were there? How many hours of Thai massage study have they completed, and how many years have they been in practice? Do the descriptions of their services use western anatomical language or Eastern healing terminology? Do they blend Thai massage with other modalities? Are they members of national and international alliances and organizations?  Before you make an appointment or register for a course in Thai massage, check into each person’s background just as you would for a prospective employee, or a babysitter for your child. A little bit of research and investigation will often lead you to the right person. Use good judgment when you select a therapist, and you will probably be rewarded.