What is Massage Therapy?Page Menu
Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being. There are dozens of types of massage therapy methods (also called modalities).
People seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons – to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles, rehabilitate injuries, reduce pain, and promote overall health and wellness. At Northwestern, you are not simply going to a massage school - you are studying to be a healthcare professional who provides massage therapy.
Types of massage therapy
While there are several types of massage, two fundamental categories are:
- Rehabilitative massage – also known as deep tissue, medical, therapeutic or clinical massage; practiced in many settings like clinics, hospitals and chiropractic offices
- Relaxation massage - also known as Swedish massage; practiced in settings like spas, wellness centers and resorts
Where science and art meet
To succeed as a massage therapist, you must be knowledgeable and intuitive – blending science and art. At Northwestern, we teach you to understand your role as a massage therapy professional as it relates to the patient’s overall health. You will be empowered to communicate effectively with other healthcare providers and provide both physical care and compassionate care. You will become a powerfully skilled caretaker, driven to enhance your patients’ health and overall sense of well being.
Join a growing profession
Employment of professional massage therapists is expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23 percent growth in massage therapy employment between 2012 and 2022 - faster than the average rate for all occupations. Research estimates that massage therapy was a $11.7 billion industry in the U.S. in 2014. Learn more from the AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet.
Massage therapy is widely used and increasingly accepted as a beneficial form of health care – and it is steadily making its way into hospitals, chiropractic clinics, acupuncture practices and more.
Medical providers are increasingly partnering with massage therapists for their patients’ health. From 2005 to 2010, the percentage of massage therapists working in a healthcare setting more than doubled, from 10 percent to 25 percent (amta.org).
Northwestern prepares you for this widening field by training you in hands-on skills that apply to a variety of career paths, work environments and patients. You learn skills ranging from the basic relaxation techniques that are taught in most massage schools to the more advanced rehabilitative techniques taught at Northwestern.
We encourage our graduates to obtain national certification through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).
The importance of accreditation
Massage therapy professionals hold Northwestern to the highest standards. Higher Learning Commission-approved schools must meet rigorous institutional standards. Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation-accredited schools are recognized for high-quality programs. We are the only HLC-accredited school with a COMTA-accredited massage therapy program.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: median pay, job outlook, job duties, work environments
- American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA): career guidance, advocacy, industry research
- AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet: industry outlook and growth projections
- AMTA Massage Therapy Position Statement: conditions that massage therapy can address or alleviate
- Associated Bodywork & Massage Professional (ABMP): student success guide, practice support for members
- Massagetherapy.com: what is massage therapy, becoming a massage therapist, massage schools
- Professional licensure
- NWHSU's practice listings: dozens of jobs are available, from multidisciplinary health clinics to fitness centers to spas