Ever play with the idea of becoming a massage therapist? Now is the time! Job opportunities abound in this rapidly growing field. Massage professionals are finding themselves highly valued as team players in both mainstream and alternative health care. Massage of the 21st century is a whole different ball game than that of the stereotypical 80’s version. Ashland Institute of Massage, right here in our own backyard, offers the opportunity to enter this industry at the top of the field. With massage job growth rate projected at 23% through 2022, now is the moment to dive in. We headed over to the Ashland Institute of Massage to speak with Laureen Sutton and Bryn McCamley, owner/directors, to learn more about what this could mean for you.
Hi Laureen and Bryn, how are things since the last time we talked?
Stellar! We love what we do, and we are continually excited about being a source for producing such talented, happy therapists. In the past four years, since we became owners, we have helped 120 people achieve their dream of ‘right livelihood’ this work.
Tell us about what’s new in the field of massage therapy these days.
Well, the biggest change is the integration of massage into the world of mainstream medicine. Massage has played a role historically in alternative health care. Now we are seeing it prescribed by allopathic physicians as well and reimbursed by health insurance agencies. This is likely to increase as prescribing physicians turn toward treating the sources of soft tissue pain rather than medicating it. The vast majority of pain that people suffer is soft tissue pain and massage therapists are specialists in this area!
Wow… this is really exciting to hear. What does this mean for your graduates?
It means a significant change in the way the public approaches the value of massage therapy, giving our graduates many more options now than those of a generation ago. Recent grads have found work in hospitals, hospice, chiropractic clinics, medical clinics, therapeutic clinics, acupuncture offices, as well as in wellness centers, retirement communities, fitness centers, spas, at sporting events, with athletic teams, and in private practice settings. Some even set up shop at truck stops, rodeos, and festivals. You name it, you can work it.
With so many therapists working in so many areas, are there really still jobs available?
That’s the crazy thing we keep wanting to shout! YES! We get calls every week from employers across Southern Oregon looking to hire AIM graduates. The demand is there and our grads stand out to employers for their extensive knowledge base, therapeutic skills, and presence of being.
Can you give us a little history of AIM?
In brief, AIM has been around since 1988, making it the second oldest massage school in Oregon. That’s nearly three decades now, and in all that time, AIM has produced students scoring in the top ranks of state testing. Massage education has changed considerably in that time, and AIM has done a good job of staying at the forefront of the field. The success of our graduates is testament to that.
Could you share with us some of your success stories?
It is hard to know where to start! Each of our graduates represents an incredible success in their own way. We have single mothers who have graduated to achieve financial independence for the first time in their life, young people using their massage license to work their way through a college education, a woman in her 60s re-entering the workforce, a janitor getting to finally pursue his amazing talent for bodywork, and graduates right and left earning a good living doing what they love! The largest successes, however, are personal; the growth that people experience in a program like this is phenomenal. Read some of our testimonials!
Who might consider enrolling? When does enrollment actually begin?
There is no stereotypical AIM student. People from all walks of life and all ages are attracted to this line of interpersonal work. Folks have been drawn to us from trucking to law practice, Romania to Central Point, ages 18 – 64. We receive the most diverse groups of people here, yet they all share the desire to find personal fulfillment and a direct way to serve their community. If you are someone who is looking for authentic connection to your work and the people in it, this is a good choice to consider.
We have a rolling admissions process, and are currently receiving applications for our next programs – the six month program beginning in January, and the 10 month program which starts next September.
How long does training typically take?
We have two choices, a six month daytime program and a 10 month night and weekend program.
I’ve heard the training can be difficult. How do you accommodate differing learning needs?
While our courses are considered college level academically, we are not your typical school! Our small size allows us to know and respond to the individual learning needs of each of our students. Our learning goals are clear, and our staff is dedicated to helping everyone succeed. We have fun employing totally diverse teaching strategies such as drawing muscles on bodies, lots of movement, and silly humor in a relaxed classroom. We find pretty much everyone can learn with the right support if they are having a good time. And we like to have a good time!
Tell us about your instructing staff.
All of our instructors are active practitioners in the fields they teach. This means that the information and stories they bring to the classroom are real and current. We have physicians and nurses teaching Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology, for example, and our Professional Development instructor is a massage therapist with expert experience in insurance billing. All of our bodywork instructors have thriving practices outside of the classroom. But the thing we look for above all else in our staff is that they love to teach. Learning from someone who is passionate about what they do is inspiring, regardless of the material.
What would my life look like when I become a student?
We have two programs available – a ten month evening and weekend program and our six month full-time day program. The ten month program is ideal for people who choose to work part-time while attending school or who would like to integrate their learning at a slightly slower pace. The day program is a true immersion experience, like going to the foreign country of massage! Both programs are what we call cohort programs, which means you travel through the entire experience with the same group of people. This creates a tight bond within each group, a very family-like atmosphere with a lot of support built into the group dynamic.
You have had many students travel great distances to attend AIM. Why is this?
You can tell we are a school of a different sort! We often say we are a school with heart, and while this may sound trite, the reality of our commitment to our students is evident at every turn. We believe fully that the “job” of massage therapy is best effective when the whole being is considered, and that awareness has to start with the whole being of the trainee. Remaining small is what allows us to know each of our students as if they were family, so we can support them as best we can in this process. We have very high standards of competence for our graduates, and that reputation precedes us nationally. Our high standards plus full commitment for individual support is a rare combination.
What if I don’t know if I want to stay in Oregon as a practitioner?
That’s a good question. Though every state sets its own requirements for licensure, the training received at AIM transfers to 78% of states in the nation, including all of the western states.
What opportunities do we have for finding out if enrolling in AIM is right for us?
We have an Open House coming up in December! See the ad to the right for details. Folks interested in finding out about massage and AIM are also welcome to tour the school, sit in on classes, talk with students and staff, or meet with our Admissions Officer. Check out our website aimashland.com, and the ‘AshlandInstituteofMassage’ Facebook page.
What else is happening at AIM?
A lot, actually. We’re pretty busy over here! Our professional clinic, Chrysalis Massage Clinic, boasts top notch professional therapists trained at AIM. Chrysalis is open seven days a week, offering community-friendly prices and online or phone booking. We also offer treatment and meeting room rentals for therapists and community groups. The continuing education sector of our school is thriving, drawing instructors from across the country. And our retail store is growing leaps and bounds, being the only massage-related store in this region. Come see us!
Ashland Institute of Massage & Chrysalis Massage Clinic
I just wanted to thank the both of you and your school for everything you do. The knowledge I’ve gained from you and the school is absolutely invaluable, and moving here for it was the single best decision I’ve ever made for myself. From the bottom of my heart, I’m forever in debt to you! Thank you sooo much. Christa Czajka (from Alaska) Day Class 2015
My experience at AIM taught me that anything is possible. It was a mind expanding, confidence building, family creating journey. A truly multi-faceted learning adventure in which I will be forever grateful. We knew we were there to learn the art of professional massage, but I’m not sure if we realized how much we would be learning from each other. As individuals we all had a different touch… our own awareness of the body and the energy that it holds… and a unique focus customized to our specific interests. My education at AIM created a structure… a solid foundation that I will build on during my evolution as a massage therapist, and my evolution as a being. AIM for the stars… success is within reach. Sara Glass Night Class 2014-15
Invisible. That is how I felt every day walking through life before I encountered AIM. I was a small vessel carrying a substantial amount of energy and light only to keep it hidden and undiscovered. Upon entering AIM I truly emerged. My mind, body, and spirit became immersed in the idea of creating and giving more of my own light then I could have ever imagined. AIM not only taught me how to heal through massage, but more importantly I learned how to heal myself. My entire being was reshaped and by the time I left, my light was no longer hidden. I went from invisible to luminous. Thank you to all the staff for your love, encouragement, and your desire to share passion in its many forms. Amber England Night Class 2013-14
I came, I changed, I cried a lot, I transformed, I rose up, and now I fly. Thank you so so much from the bottom of my heart! Jamie Harris Day Class 2014
Just wanted to thank you so much. I finished my very first massage as a licensed massage therapist and I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Thank you for all your help and inspiration you have given me to help get here. Moksha Robinson Day Class 2015
For the past 30 years, I have traveled around the country teaching a specialized type of body therapy. I have taught at many of the finest schools in our profession. I am honored to be connected to the Ashland Institute of Massage. Their students, staff, and directors are some of the finest people I know- both professionally and personally. I highly recommend checking out this school for their detailed trainings and continued education programs. Jim Berns, Registered Ortho-Bionomy Advanced Instructor
Having taught CEU classes throughout the country over the last 9 years, I have found the Ashland Institute of Massage graduates to be among the most well educated and skilled massage practitioners I have encountered anywhere. Particularly in the area of “touch skills,” their expertise in contacting the tissues are what I would expect to find of someone with many years experience. George D Sullivan, Certified Advanced Rolfer and Senior Instructor, Advanced-Trainings.com