Qualified Thai Massage Therapists

Thai Healing Alliance therapist guidelines: For professional practice as a Thai massage therapist, 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. 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

There is no uniform regulation or licensing protocol for the practice of traditional Thai massage 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 Thai massage 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 without being recognized by local massage boards.


Since Thai massage inherited some passive stretches from early Indian traditions, some students and therapists have the impression that Thai massage is based entirely on assisted yoga techniques, but that is hardly the case. If your Thai massage therapist simply stretches and compresses your body into yoga positions without working on the energy lines with broad pressure and thumbing techniques, and without 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 sometimes use the word “Thai” and may include elements of traditional Thai massage, but they shouldn’t be confused with, or presented 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 respect 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, then your therapist was probably not very skilled or adequately trained.


Choose your therapist wisely

Unfortunately, some 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 market their courses in levels, and create and promote 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 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 study lineage are not listed on their web site or in their promotional information, ask them with whom they have studied, and for how long. 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.


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