For the past four years, high school students and faculty members in Benton, Illinois have been treated to chair massages as part of National Education Week. The program was started as a result of a grant related to social and emotional learning. Organizers of the program recognize the benefits that therapeutic massage can have on emotional health, which is of special importance to high-school aged students. The program also offers career training to students, allowing them to complete a year-long course that prepares students for a national exam. Successful completion of the exam earns students a state license to practice massage therapy.
Emotional health has a profound effect on all facets of life, and teens can experience heightened states of stress and negative feelings. Stress can increase depressive episodes, which can have devastating effects on a student’s social interaction and educational pursuits. Stress can also cause increased aggression, which can disrupt the learning process or lead to the endangerment of other students or faculty members. The therapeutic massage education program provides a proactive approach, both helping students to choose a possible career path and helping them to find positive ways to combat stress.
Students who elect to participate in the program take classes in massage techniques, anatomy, physiology, pathology and business. The classes exceed the state’s requirement of 500 contact hours, and those who complete the program go on to take the national exam. A majority of those who receive their state certification are then able to find full or part-time employment as massage therapists.