Massage therapy program looks to the future

March 11, 2010

Greenfield Community College’s Massage Therapy Certificate (MTC) Program is beginning a transition from a credit-based certificate program to a Center for Advanced Continuing Education in Massage Therapy and Bodywork.

The College is responding to anticipated trends in the massage therapy profession. GCC’s current massage therapy students will complete their certification program with the 2011 graduating class being the 30th year of graduates from the program that began as the Stillpoint Center for the Healing Arts. Starting in 2011, the new Center for Advanced Continuing Education will provide advanced education for professional massage therapists and other health care professionals. Patricia Wachter, GCC’s current MTC Program Coordinator will also be the coordinator of the new Center and will be staffed by the current Massage Therapy faculty.

Describing the transition to the new Center, the Massage Therapy faculty said, “In celebration of our 30th year, Stillpoint is focusing on the future by changing direction. Stillpoint has always been ahead of the basic educational training in massage, exceeding the national norms and standards. With an abundance of schools teaching a basic massage education, there is an increasing need for advanced training. We are transitioning from being a mid-level massage therapy training program to an advanced training center. Our mission has always been to increase the professionalization of our field. We will help set the standard in Massachusetts for advanced massage and bodywork education.”

GCC’s Massage Therapy Certificate Program was the first college-based massage certificate program on the east coast and one of the first college-based massage education programs in the state to become nationally accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). In 30 years, Stillpoint and the GCC MTC Program have educated a combined total of over 800 graduates who practice throughout the United States and Australia.

Wachter said, “We are continuing the Stillpoint mission started 30 years ago by promoting excellence in massage education. With seasoned faculty (15-32 years of massage education and practice experience), we intend to take advanced study of massage therapy beyond the weekend workshop model. We will provide in-depth training and follow-up coursework to help massage therapists and other health care professionals integrate their advanced learning into their daily work. The new Center will serve GCC alumni, alumni from our five sister community college massage therapy programs – Berkshire, Mt. Wachusett, Springfield Technical, Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Community Colleges – and other health care professionals from throughout the region. Licensed massage therapists are required by their professional organizations to complete continuing education courses. Across the nation, massage therapists are meeting to determine the essential body of knowledge for basic, intermediate and advanced practitioners. Our new Center will contribute to and be informed by that national conversation.”

Associate Dean of Professional Studies, Judi Singley, commented, “GCC has a strong commitment to our students, and our students become our alumni. As the profession of massage therapy continues to evolve, GCC will support the professional development of our students and alumni. The new Center opens up many possibilities for the continuing education of a wide range of health care professionals, including GCC alumni and others who work as nurses, physical therapists, massage therapists, and bodyworkers.”

While GCC will no longer accept admissions to the MTC Program, current students will continue with the same faculty, courses and requirements toward their massage therapy certificates. Over the next year, Singley, Wachter, the Massage Therapy faculty, and the Program Advisory Committee will conduct assessments of the continuing education needs of current massage, bodywork, and health care professionals as well as the needs of their employers. The Center’s program will be designed to meet those needs.

President Bob Pura said, “Patricia Wachter is a visionary massage therapy educator; her leadership in transitioning the program in this direction is a clear statement of her responsiveness to our community’s needs. I’m excited about the potential of the new Center to further Patricia’s vision to elevate the quality and accountability of massage therapy as a profession.”