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The Marketable Modalities

A Graphic listing some of the most popular bodywork modalities

Today I want to discuss some things I've noticed when applying to work at spas, clinics, gyms, etc. When you look up job listings in SF for a massage therapist position it would seem that the only modalities worth any salt are:

  • Deep Tissue

  • Sports Massage

  • Pregnancy Massage

  • Swedish Massage

Almost every job listing mentions only these four modalities, and one must be “competent with” all of these modalities to be considered for the job. My beef here is that from looking through over 20 job listings in SF, one would think that the four modalities listed above are the only ones that are marketable or useful to clients. According to ABMP, there are over 350 different modalities of massage and bodywork. So here is the line of questioning that follows when I consider what I found:

  • Why are these establishments only prioritizing these four modalities?

    • Because they are considered marketable

  • Why are they the only modalities considered marketable?

    • Because they are the modalities that the general public is familiar with and asks for

  • Why are they the modalities the general public is familiar with?

    • Because of a lack of education on the other hundreds of modalities available and the benefits they offer

What really bothers me about this is the effect this has on both new therapists and clients. By creating job listings like these, whether they mean to or not, these establishments are contributing to the lack of education/awareness around the vastness of our field and the range of approaches that can be used to help people as a CMT/LMT.

Now, I don’t mean to say that these four modalities are not good. They are great, BUT they are just one teeny tiny slice of the pie when it comes to bodywork, yet they take up the majority of the spotlight. Let us not forget the power of the other 350+ modalities like Craniosacral, Structural Integration, Feldenkrais, ALL of the eastern modalities from Thai to Shiatsu, and more!

So, my advice for anyone left thinking, “Well Marty, what should I learn to be a marketable massage therapist?” is that you should pursue what interests and inspires you. Not all therapists are going to be good at or even like doing all modalities. You will find yourself gravitating in different directions and something will click and feel right and exciting to do.

For example, Swedish massage is just not as inspiring to me. I see its value and its place in our field, but I wouldn’t choose to give multiple Swedish massages every day as my job if I had the option. Now, Structural Integration is a whole other story for me. I could just talk to you about that for hours because I LOVE it. I think my clients can feel this, and that’s a huge piece of what makes my work marketable, I love doing it.

We live in such a cool age where you can explore modalities with online instruction in cheaper and more accessible ways than ever before, so go out there and find the modality for you! Then you can show up to that interview and confidently demonstrate the powerful work you are able to do regardless of the label it has.


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