massage and mental health

From Depression to PTSD, Massage Therapists Can Play a Key Role in Mental Health Care

When your neck is stiff after too many hours working at the computer, or a long run left your hamstrings screaming, you pick up the phone and call your favourite RMT. After all, registered massage therapists are known for their power to heal our bodies. But their ability to improve our mental health is just as impressive. 

Massage therapy can provide significant mental health benefits, and even help people with serious mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. 

Therapists and clients have always known that massage is good for our mental health, and the scientific evidence is catching up.Research has shown that massage therapy can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress in a wide variety of conditions; promote feelings of emotional well-being and promote a healthy mind-body connection; and even improve outcomes for people receiving medical treatment for serious mental health disorders. 

A Complementary Mental Health Treatment That’s Backed by Research 

Massage is not a replacement for specialized mental health care from a medical professional. But as an adjunct or complementary therapy, it can make a huge difference. Massage therapy can be added to almost anyone’s wellness regimen, whether they’re suffering from a mental illness, experiencing psychological effects of a physical condition, or just feeling run down by the stresses of day-to-day life. 

Our minds and our bodies are connected, and that means that what’s happening with our mental health can affect the rest of our bodies and vice versa. Some mental illnesses have physical symptoms. And it’s common for people who are suffering from pain and physical ailments to experience depression, stress, and other mental health symptoms as a result. 

Many of the physical effects of massage therapy can improve mental well-being. These include lowering the heart rate and reducing blood pressure, reducing pain, improving sleep, and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the “rest and digest” response, it’s the calming counterpart to the “fight or flight” response).  

The impact of massage on hormone levels is particularly important. Massage increases serotonin which regulates mood and sleep, and reduces cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.” All of this means that massage increases relaxation and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have even shown that massage increases blood flow in areas of the brain associated with mood and stress regulation. 

People with a wide range of mental health disorders and related conditions can benefit from including massage from a trained professional in their health routine. These include: 

Anyone experiencing symptoms of one or more of these issues should contact a medical professional. Before booking your massage, confirm with the RMT that they have been trained in how to treat your symptoms or condition. You can do this by asking them directly, or if you’re not comfortable with that you can ask friends or people on your health care team to recommend an RMT. 

Working Together to Create a Unique Treatment Plan 

The mental health benefits of massage therapy appear to be the result of a combination of both physiological and psychological factors. The intangible aspects of the therapeutic relationship between RMT and client—empathy, trust, and respect—seem to be particularly important. 

A good therapist will create a safe and calm environment for all their clients, where there’s no pressure, judgment, or stress. They will help their clients maintain healthy boundaries and will remain within their own scope of practice as well. This strong therapeutic relationship is the foundation every massage treatment, and there’s evidence that these intangible aspects of getting a massage—the empathy, trust, and respect between client and therapist—have tangible benefits for the client’s mental health. 

In some ways, treating a client for their mental health concerns is a lot like treating a client who comes in with physical aches and pains. A well-trained massage therapist never performs a one-size-fits-all treatment. Instead, they begin with an interview and an assessment and follow a customized treatment plan based on the client’s needs and goals. 

Effective massage treatment is always a collaboration between the client and the therapist, but this is especially true when it comes to treating clients who are struggling with their mental health. The RMT will work with the client to ensure that they create a safe and welcoming treatment environment. The therapist will explain the treatment plan before they begin and continue to check in throughout the appointment. They’ll also pay attention to non-verbal cues like muscle tension and breathing patterns to make sure that their client stays in their comfort zone. 

As a student at Vicars, you’ll be able to develop a rewarding career providing hands-on care to clients suffering from mental health disorders. As new research shows just how much of an impact massage therapy can have on a person’s mental and physical health, massage therapists will more in demand than ever before. If you’ve always wanted a career where you can really make a difference, speak to our friendly admissions team at 1-866-491-0574 or RSVP for our next online open house to learn more! 

massage therapy has grown in 2021

How COVID-19 has changed things for RMTs and massage therapy schools

When COVID-19 arrived in Canada, none of us knew how it would affect our lives. And as massage therapists, we were also worried about our livelihoods. What would happen to a hands-on profession like massage therapy during a global pandemic? 

Over a year later, the answer is clear: massage therapy isn’t going anywhere. On the contrary, the stress and hardship of the last year has reminded RMTs and our clients just how necessary massage is in our lives. 

“There certainly have been a number of challenges in the past year in my own practice, and the massage industry as a whole throughout the pandemic. But overall, what I’m seeing is that massage is alive and well,” says MH Vicars instructor Lourdes Nunes-Sammer. Lourdes is both an RMT and a business owner. She treats clients in Edmonton and owns a clinic in Jasper that has multiple massage therapists.

Lourdes says that she’s been pleasantly surprised by how resilient her businesses have been during the pandemic. 

“In my own practice I’m as busy as ever, and the clinic in Jasper has been very busy.” 

It hasn’t been an easy year for RMTs, of course. Massage therapy was one of the many professions that had to temporarily close during Alberta’s first shutdown in spring 2020, and again for a few weeks during the second wave lockdown in December 2020. 

But each time it’s had to shut down, massage therapy has bounced right back. Rather than reducing demand, these shutdowns—and the overall stress and strain of the pandemic—have made many of our clients appreciate us more than ever. 

Our clients also trust that we’re taking the necessary steps to keep them safe, including following strict cleaning protocols, doing client screening, and wearing masks and other PPE. Some of the changes we’ve had to make have been expensive and time-consuming, but we know it’s worth it to be able to do what we love. 

“I have some clients where I am literally the only person that they see, outside of the members of their household. People who are seriously isolating,” says Lourdes. “That someone lets me be in that circle of trust and treat them—that’s a huge privilege.” 

Massage therapy is an effective treatment for a wide range of injuries and physiological conditions, and Lourdes says that her clients are still coming to her to get help with issues like TMJD, scoliosis, and other conditions. But she’s also noticed a huge increase in the number of clients who are specifically looking for stress relief. 

“I think that more than ever now, people are seeing the therapeutic benefits of a relaxation-type massage,” she explains. “They’re coming in asking for a full-body relaxation massage, whereas before I would have been treating their specific condition. 

“The pandemic is bringing to light the need for connection that we might have overlooked before, and the need for massage therapists and that therapeutic touch. They’re more stressed than they’ve ever been. Our resiliency, our overall mental and physical and psychological and spiritual health is low.” 

How has COVID-19 affected massage therapy schools? 

The pandemic has been hard on massage therapy students, too. But MH Vicars School students have had a significant advantage over some of their peers. The Vicars program has always been delivered through blended learning: a combination of hands-on learning in class, and independent study work that’s completed online and at home. This type of schedule is perfect for adult learners, rural students, and others who can’t attend an old-fashioned Monday-Friday program. 

And though we certainly didn’t anticipate this advantage when the school opened 20 years ago, blended learning has proven to be a great way to learn during a pandemic. We have made additional changes to the program to support our students during the pandemic, but without sacrificing the curriculum standards or overall student experience. 

The 2020-2021 school year was able to proceed with as few disruptions as possible. The biggest difference for our students was that our practicum clinics have been closed to the public for most of the year. This was a difficult decision, but a necessary one. Reducing the number of people that our students come into close contact with on campus has helped keep them and their families safe. It also meant that we were less likely to have to interrupt on-campus classes for our students. Our students have been working on each other at the clinic. They get a dynamic and interactive hands-on practicum experience without increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus. 

The pandemic isn’t going to disappear overnight, but next year’s students can look forward to a much more normal school experience. Thanks to vaccines and public health precautions, we look forward to reopening all our clinics to the public for the next school year. 

Massage therapy students can also breathe easy knowing that they are preparing to enter a career with a bright future. 

“I think the resounding lesson of this pandemic is that massage therapists have job security,” reflects Lourdes. “We’ve seen a lot of challenges in the industry this year—being open one day and closed the next—and keeping up with all the guidelines for how we can practice and what we need to do. But people are still coming. Because they recognize the value of it. I think there’s always going to be that demand.” 

At MH Vicars School of Massage Therapy, you can train to become a registered massage therapist for a flexible, rewarding career in this growing field. MH Vicars students learn the theory and skills to perform effective relaxation and therapeutic treatments.  

Call our friendly admissions team at 1-866-491-0574 or RSVP for the next live online open house to learn more about becoming a qualified massage therapist.

MH Vicars School is proud to announce that we have been named to the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta’s new list of Approved Schools.

We’ve always been committed to providing our students with the best, most up-to-date massage therapy education possible, and we’re thrilled to have confirmation from the independent experts at the MTAA that we’re accomplishing that goal. Vicars was the first private massage school in Alberta to achieve this status, and we’re currently the only private college on the list.

For owners Maryhelen Vicars and Robin Collum, earning MTAA approval is very satisfying.

“We’re incredibly happy to have taken part in this process, and to have earned our spot on the MTAA’s list,” says Collum.

“This is such an important affirmation that we are on the right track. We are so proud of our faculty and staff for continuously improving the school over the past 20 years, and for embracing new resources as they became available to us. It has been lots of work, but well worth it for the career success of our grads,” says Vicars.

The Approved Schools list is the MTAA’s way of continuing to make sure that their members meet the association’s education standards. In the future, they will use the list as the qualification criteria for new members. It will replace their previous school approval system (we were on that list, too!).

“We created this program to support and elevate the education of massage therapists in Alberta,” explains Jessica Villeneuve, chair of the MTAA’s School Approval Committee. “It’s important for students to be trained to the national standard because it ensures safe and effective care for Albertans. This new approval program will allow us to maintain the high standards that we hold our members to in regard to scope of practice, ethics, and other important areas of practice.”

The MTAA School Approval Program is a rigorous evaluation process that assesses a school’s curriculum content, delivery, and student experience. The curriculum standards are based on the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice Competencies and Performance Indicators for Massage Therapists at Entry-to-Practice created by the Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FOMTRAC). If that long complicated name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same standard used by the regulatory bodies in provinces where massage therapy is a regulated health care profession.

When this national standard was introduced in 2012, we jumped at the opportunity to improve our curriculum and immediately began to transition our program to align with the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice standards. We did another big round of program upgrades when the document was revised in 2016.

We review and improve our curriculum every year to stay up to date with the latest research, resources, and teaching methods, and always use the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice standards as our guide.

But in a non-regulated province like Alberta, massage therapy schools don’t have to teach the FOMTRAC curriculum if they don’t want to. That’s why the MTAA’s new and improved School Approval Program is so important.

“Having a respected independent third party like the MTAA reviewing what massage schools teach and their delivery standards is vital for our profession.”

“Having a respected independent third party like the MTAA reviewing what massage schools teach and their delivery standards is vital for our profession,” explains Collum. “It allows students to choose a massage school based on how well it will prepare them for a career, instead of having to rely on marketing claims.

“We’re grateful that the MTAA has committed to promoting and upholding the national standards in this way. We recognize that managing an approval program like this is not simple, easy, or cheap. And by raising their entry standards, they’re risking decreasing their membership numbers. But like us, the MTAA believes that the national curriculum standard and third-party program evaluation are the future of massage therapy in Alberta and will benefit therapists and clients alike. It’s a huge undertaking, and we admire them for doing it.”

Going through the school approval program is a rigorous, months-long process.

A school first prepares a written application package full of information about the program. The MTAA wants to know about the school’s history and structure, its academic and non-academic policies and procedures, faculty qualifications, curriculum details, and more. Everything needs to be backed up with clear evidence.

If a school passes the written review, then it’s time for an on-site evaluation. An MTAA reviewer inspects the campus and facilities, and interviews staff, students, and faculty. This multi-step process ensures that the reviewers can get a thorough understanding of the school and how it operates, and make sure that the school is actually delivering a massage education that will prepare its graduates to be skilled, effective, and successful therapists.

The MTAA approval program is still accepting applications from Alberta massage schools, and we hope that it continues to grow.

We’re excited for the brand new school year, but September will be a little bittersweet this year as two well-loved faces will be missing from campus. Please join us in saying “goodbye, thank you, and good luck” to Robert Haviar and Christina Wahlers. After many wonderful years as Vicars instructors, Christina and Robert are retiring from teaching and moving on to the next stages of their lives and careers.

Retiring Edmonton instructor Robert Haviar

Retiring Calgary instructor Christina Wahlers

Robert has been teaching at Vicars in Edmonton since 2004 and has been a part of countless students’ journeys over the last 16 years. Christina has been an invaluable member of our Calgary teaching staff for almost a decade, and has helped us along our path to accreditation in addition to sharing her skill in the classroom.

I chatted with both Christina and Robert this summer to hear about what’s next each of them, and to reflect on their time at Vicars. And it was obvious in our conversations that while both of them are excited about their next chapters, a part of them was already starting to miss their students.

“I just loved being with the students, and I loved sharing with them,” said Robert. “What I’ve enjoyed most about teaching is seeing the ‘aha!’ moments students had, when the lightbulb lit up above their head and you could see that they got something at a deeper level. That was amazingly satisfying, and it still is.”

“A lot of my favourite memories of my classes are from when we’re doing the review at the end of the year, before exams. That’s when I could see the students start to relax a little bit, and all their personalities come out as they realize they’re getting close to the finish line,” said Christina. “I absolutely loved watching our students become these competent, confident therapists that I’m proud to now call my colleagues.”

After years of being the ones standing at the front of the classroom, both Robert and Christina are putting their ‘student’ hats back on and continuing their educations beyond massage therapy – though neither is leaving the career behind. Christina is returning to university to complete an undergraduate degree, and hopes to continue to advocate for massage therapy in Canada. Robert plans to study Somatics, in order to have another way to help his clients heal.

It’s been a pleasure to work with Robert and Christina all these years, and we wish them well.

This school year will be unlike any other that we’ve experienced, and we know that there will be challenges and surprises ahead. We have been working hard all summer to make sure that when our students and faculty return to campus in August and September, they’ll be able to learn and work in a safe and comfortable environment.

To give you an idea of what campus will be like on your next visit, here’s an overview of our COVID-19 safety protocols.

These health and safety measures comply with the Government of Alberta COVID-19 Risk Mitigation requirements for post-secondary institutions, and municipal bylaws. We have also taken guidance from the rules created by Alberta’s main massage therapy professional associations for their individual members, and consulted with our colleagues at other massage schools across the country.

  • Our campus will remain closed to the general public. Only students, faculty, staff, and essential visitors will be allowed on site. We are not yet accepting clinic clients.
  • Masks will be mandatory for students, faculty, and staff when on campus, with a few exceptions when people are physically distanced or have other PPE.
  • Everyone will complete a screening questionnaire online every day before they enter the building. Anyone who is deemed to be at risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus (as identified by the screening questionnaire or public health authorities) will not be permitted on campus until the risk has passed.
  • All campus areas are professionally cleaned regularly. Students will also be responsible for disinfecting their massage station and desk at the end of the day. Cleaning supplies will be provided.
  • Classrooms will be preassigned, so students will only be share spaces with your own instructors and classmates.
  • Students will have one massage partner each day for all of the hands-on work.
  • Some common areas and campus amenities will be off-limits.

More detailed instructions are being shared with students. If you have any questions about how we’re protecting the Vicars community, please be in touch!

In response to the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close our campuses.

Both the Edmonton and Calgary campuses will be closed from Monday, March 16 until further notice. All on-campus activities including classes, clinics, and study halls will be cancelled.

We are making this decision as a precautionary measure. Post-secondary schools in Alberta have not yet been required to shut down operations. However, the best way for people to slow the spread of this virus is to reduce the risk of exposure. So we are choosing to pause our in-person interactions for a few weeks.

And because our program is delivered through blended learning, we are better prepared for this type of situation than some other schools.

We are communicating directly with students with updates on how this will impact their studies.

Upcoming events and in-person appointments for prospective students will be rescheduled or switched to a virtual platform. If you have an appointment booked with any of us, we’ll contact you to confirm the details.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

There’s nothing like a road trip to see old friends!

On October 7, our Executive Director Sarah Ward-Bakken and our Curriculum Director Linda McGeachy joined massage therapists from across the province for the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta’s annual general meeting.

The MTAA is one of Alberta’s three major professional associations for massage therapists, and represents many Vicars graduates, students, and faculty. (Vicars instructors and supervisors are all practicing therapists, and our faculty includes members of the MTAA, NHPC, and RMTA). Sarah and Linda were joined at this year’s AGM by instructors Kerri Wagensveld, Janine Borger, Dan Hvingelby, and Tamara Goodrich – as well as many successful Vicars grads!

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Kerri, Sarah, Dan, Linda, and Tamara at the 2019 MTAA AGM

Connecting with colleagues is only one reason we headed to Red Deer, though. These annual meetings are an important way for members to learn about what their association is doing on their behalf, and to have a say in what it does in the future.

The most interesting information at this year’s meeting was, of course, updates on the future of regulation and school accreditation in Alberta. The MTAA has been at the forefront of the campaign for both of these projects, and everyone at the meeting was keen to hear the latest news.

This past year has been very eventful on both fronts. Some of it has been very positive, such as PEI becoming regulated and the College of Massage Therapists of BC signing a multi-year accreditation contract with the Canadian Massage Therapy Council for Accreditation.

But unfortunately for those of us who are committed to meeting a Canada-wide standard of training and client care in Alberta, there have also been setbacks to both the accreditation and regulation processes.

The MTAA have been one of the strongest advocates for the advancement of our profession in Alberta, and we were glad to be at the meeting to be able to hear their perspective on the issues.

We will be writing more about both regulation and accreditation – what they mean, why they matter, and how we can achieve them – in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Flag of PEI

There’s big news for massage in Canada’s smallest province! Prince Edward Island has added massage therapy to its list of Regulated Health Professions.Flag of PEI

Please join us in congratulating the Prince Edward Island Massage Therapy Association (PEIMTA) for this achievement. Those of us working toward regulation in Alberta know just how much work it has taken for PEI’s massage therapists to meet this goal. PEI is now the fifth regulated province in Canada, after BC, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. A Regulatory College is currently being formed.

Regulation is good for both clients and therapists. It ensures that all therapists practicing in a province must meet a high standard of knowledge and skill. This means that no matter where a client goes for a massage in PEI, they can trust that their registered massage therapist will be able to treat them safely and effectively.

MH Vicars School has been advocating for regulation in Alberta since we opened. We look forward to continuing to work with the provincial associations and other reputable schools in the province toward that goal so that all therapists and clients in Alberta can enjoy the same benefits as our friends in PEI.

Move over, Oscars. Take a seat, Golden Globes. This awards season, we’re only interested in the Best of YEG Fitness awards – because three of the nominees for “Best Massage Therapist” are Vicars graduates!

Kory Ring, Andrea Yacyshyn, and Dustin Ring (no relation to Kory) are among the top five finalists for the award, which is determined entirely by public votes.

The awards are presented by YEG Fitness magazine, a local publication that highlights all areas of the local fitness and wellness community.

“We view fitness as healthy living, and it’s all about balance. It’s about taking care of your body: nutrition, different kinds of activity and training, and having physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists working with you to both prevent and treat injury if you need it,” explained TJ Sadler, the magazine’s editor. “The awards are a way for us to showcase those people who are doing great things.”

Discovering that so many of their clients considered them among the city’s massage elite was a great feeling for the three Vicars grads.

“I’m so grateful to all of my clients and everyone who voted for me for this,” said Dustin, who graduated in 2017. “I never thought that I would make a list like this so close to coming out of school.”

“I was so honoured that enough people typed my name – and I have a hard-to-spell last name! It was incredibly validating as I love this work so much,” said Andrea.

Being included on lists does more than just boost a therapist’s confidence. It can have a significant impact on future business. So what can fellow Vicars graduates learn from Andrea, Dustin, and Kory’s success?

A good massage begins before the client is on the table

I asked all three of the nominees to try to identify what it was about their treatments that made clients so excited that they’d go online and vote. I expected to hear about their hands-on expertise and specialized techniques – and I did – but the first thing that each therapist highlighted about themselves was how they try to listen to and relate to their clients off the table.

“The thing my clients have consistently said to me is that they feel like I listen to them, I care, and I don’t rush them,” Andrea said.

“I’ve been told by a lot of clients that they like that I actually take the time to listen and do a proper assessment and address their concerns – just like we were taught to do in school,” Kory agreed. “And they get the results that they’re looking for, a lot of the time.”

And once your clients love your practice, they’ll keep coming back. And they’ll tell their friends.

Word-of-mouth marketing works. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!

“I actually don’t accept tips at my practice at all, and when people do try to tip me I tell them that if they want to pay me a compliment they can just tell their friends and family about me, or leave a Google review,” said Kory. “Ninety-nine per cent of my clients come from referrals, I’d say.”

No one knows how amazing you are – or is as excited to talk about why – like the clients who keep coming back to you. By encouraging your current clients to recommend you to others, you’re getting your name out there in a more authentic and efficient way than any ad could ever deliver. And, you’ll attract the kind of client who is most likely to fit in well at your practice, which means they’ll keep coming back (and refer friends of their own).

It doesn’t hurt to offer a small thank-you in return.

“I offer a $10 referral [gift] when someone sends me a new client,” explained Andrea. “A client I had from school referred another client, who then referred her sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and multiple friends. And then those clients referred people to me. It was a huge domino effect that really paid off and landed me with 10 new regular clients rather quickly.”

Don’t just tell clients about your practice – tell everyone!

One of the ways that Dustin was able to become so successful so quickly after graduating was by tapping into the professional connections that he already had as a yoga teacher. These clients and colleagues became his first cheerleaders.

“By being in the yoga community and immersing myself in different aspects of the fitness industry I’ve developed an ongoing clientele that I never thought that I would have this early in my career,” he said. “I also did a lot of volunteer events. If you’re good, people are going to tell other people.”

Some of your most important connections as a therapist aren’t with clients, but with other health care professionals. Being a source of trustworthy referrals for your clients adds value to your services at the same time as it helps clients get the care they need.

Kory’s clinic is located within Evolve Strength, a downtown gym. This mixed clinical environment has helped him make connections with other professionals.

“There’s a good referral network within the gym,” he explained. “The athletic world, I’ve come to realize, is a pretty tight-knit community in this city.”

Andrea’s practice is in her home, but that hasn’t stopped her from developing an extensive referral list of her own.

“I have a chiropractor, 3 massage therapists, an acupuncturist, a physiotherapist, a Pilates studio, a [naturopathic doctor], a medical clinic, and a pelvic floor specialist that I refer to,” said Andrea. “I have their cards in my treatment room and some of their profiles on my website. By working with them and sending them my clients, they up sending me theirs and we create a collaborative health network for our clients.”

The winners of this year’s Best of YEG Fitness awards will be announced at a ceremony on February 6, 2019.

“Looking back now, I’m definitely glad I went the Newfoundland route. It’s been a long process, but I’m finally there!”

That’s Jenna Kluthe, who graduated from MH Vicars School’s Edmonton campus in 2017. She was one of nearly a dozen Vicars grads who travelled to Newfoundland to write that province’s entry-to-practice exam with the final goal of becoming RMTs in BC. Jenna now practices in Nanaimo.

Tyler Shortridge, Karen Goforth, Jenna Kluthe, and their classmates celebrate together after writing the CMTNL exams. Photo courtesy Karen Goforth.

Jenna and her classmates chose Newfoundland because the process to apply for the exam was simpler, faster, and less expensive than going directly to BC. The College of Massage Therapists of Newfoundland and Labrador officially recognizes the Vicars program, while the BC College requires applicants to pay for a “prior learning assessment” before they can take their test. (Read more about why Vicars grads are choosing Newfoundland and New Brunswick here).

The journey to become RMTs in BC began in the spring of 2017.

“I was going to go the BC route, because I didn’t know anything about Newfoundland, but about a month before we graduated someone mentioned it and we were all curious,” said Tyler Shortridge, who lives in Cranbrook and attended the Calgary campus. “[CMTNL] were really good. They answered emails fast, they answered phone calls. It was easy to get the answers I needed, and the paperwork was simple. I think I waited two weeks to hear whether we were accepted to write the exam. They had no issues with our program.”

The Newfoundland entry-to-practice exam has two parts. The multiple-choice exam covers massage theory, ethics, and law, including regulations specific to Newfoundland. The practical exam, which consists of seven separate stations, evaluates the therapist’s academic knowledge, hands-on techniques, and problem-solving skills.

“It was a little bit intimidating,” said Jenna. “You walk into the room and there were two examiners, just sitting off to the side, and there’s the body. The examiners don’t say anything, they don’t acknowledge you, they don’t smile, they don’t do anything. You just walk in and do your thing.”

The College publishes a detailed outline of the exam structure and contents to help therapists prepare, and the Vicars grad felt that the exams were well-organized and fair.

“It was fairly straightforward. You just have to make sure that you’re confident in your answers,” said Karen Goforth, who lives and works in Creston, BC.

Nonetheless, they all felt very prepared.

“The hardest part was waiting for the results,” said Tyler. “I took the exam in August, and by the end of October I was registered in Newfoundland. The end of January is when I was able to work in BC as an RMT.”

All the time and effort was worth it.

“Being a massage therapist is awesome, I love it. I have the freedom to do whatever I want with my schedule, and I like helping people,” said Tyler. “You see a lot of different people, and it’s really nice to connect with them.”

If you’re a Vicars student or grad interested in more information about moving to a regulated province, please contact the school and we’d be happy to help.