The accelerated 18 week program runs Monday through Friday, with a one week mid-term break. The part-time program starts every September and takes 9 months to complete. Classes run Monday through Wednesday evenings and every second weekend. It includes the courses outlined below, plus a 105 hour student clinic.
|Human Sciences||132 hours|
|Manual Skills||213 hours|
|Spa Modalities||140 hours|
|Personal and Professional Development||110 hours|
|Student Clinic||105 hours|
|Program Total||700 hours|
Anatomy is the study of the structure of the body – from cellular structure, to the organization of organs, tissues, and systems. Particular attention will be paid to the muscular and skeletal structures.
Physiology is the study of the systems of the body (muscular, skeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, pulmonary, respiratory, lymphatic, urinary, digestive, nervous, reproductive) and how they work together to sustain life.
Pathology is the study of disease and dysfunction. Particular attention will be paid to common disorders and conditions one might encountered in a massage practice.
Kinesiology is the study of human structure and function and their relationship to movement.
Swedish techniques are the basis of the contemporary Western approach to massage. This course includes draping, benefits and contraindications, body mechanics, palpation, and basic strokes (effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration). Students will learn to be precise and thorough in the application of soft tissue massage, while cultivating mindfulness to create a safe, nurturing environment for the client.
This course introduces the foundational knowledge and skills needed to identify and release tension patterns in connective tissue. Emphasis will be placed on the application of a slow, sensitive and at the same time decisive form of deep touch. Deep Tissue Massage is applied with an understanding of the structural relationships of the major body segments and helps the body’s structure to find an improved postural balance.
Topics include postural analysis, regional assessment, different types of strokes and strategies to release holding patterns, and the biomechanics of working deeply with minimal effort and safety.
Integrative Bodywork is the heart of the Spa Therapy Program. It is specifically designed to teach students how to integrate all of the different techniques covered during their time at VSBM. The objectives are to develop intuition around touch, explore creative and effective session design, refine a detail-oriented “spa touch”, and to create smooth transitions from one technique to another. Everything from draping and biomechanics to advanced techniques will be reviewed, fortified and embellished.
Students will begin to approach bodywork as an art form – developing their own unique style and creating both effective and beautiful treatments specific to the individual client’s needs.
Sports massage is used to increase circulation and flexibility in active individuals. It can be applied pre-event and post-event to decrease lactic acid build up, stiffness, and pain, and help prevent injury.
Joint Release is a gentle form of bodywork that facilitates the release of deep-seated physical and mental holding patterns. The method is characterized by gentle shaking, stretching and rhythmic rocking movements, which re-educate the body to experience the possibility of effortless movement.
Joint Release can be easily combined with other methods of bodywork, such as Deep Tissue work or Swedish massage.
The art and science of aromatherapy combines the healing properties of aromatic plant essences with massage, a complimentary use of the sense of smell with the healing art of touch. Aromatherapy can be used to assist in various ways during a massage to alleviate stress, uplift the mood and enhance emotional and physical well being. In this aromatherapy course students will learn to differentiate and apply 16 of the most common essential oils in the various therapeutic categories. Students learn to understand the healing properties and benefits of these oils, using case studies to examine how Aromatherapy can be used to address the needs of individual clients. Students will take a practical approach to blending aromatherapy products for multiple applications such as compresses, massage bars, aromatic steams and salts and massage oil blends.
Reflexology is the study of the reflexes. This course will provide students with general knowledge of Reflexology techniques and how to use these techniques to give a ‘reflexology style foot massage’. Reflexology is a natural, non-invasive healing art based on the principle of reflexes in the feet that correspond to every part of the body. Reflexology helps to balance the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the whole body. Reflexology does not diagnose or prescribe; the whole body is treated rather than a specific condition. Reflexology reflexes are found in the feet, hands and ears. Our focus will be on the feet. This is not a certification course. The techniques learned are founded in Reflexology teachings and intended to be a companion in relaxation massage sessions.
Hydrotherapy is the use of hot and cold water, ice, and steam to facilitate the healing process. Students will learn the theory and practice of hydrotherapy techniques including exfoliations and wraps.
Indian Head Massage
The Indian Head Massage (IHM) or shirobhyanga, is a modality that has its roots in the healing practice of Ayurveda. This massage technique, practiced with the client seated, has a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating effect through work on the “marma” or pressure points and various massage techniques on the head and face. The massage is a half hour practice which also includes the upper arms, neck, and shoulders and focuses on releasing tension in the body, as well as mental stress.
The Indian Head Massage is a practice which is beneficial in relieving headaches, stress, insomnia, “computer shoulders” and depression, Indian Head Massage works on an energetic, emotional and physical level. It is a simple and effective treatment that can be incorporated into any spa practice. The oils used on the scalp are optional and are wild-crafted organic Ayurvedic oils, used traditionally to relieve stress, nourish the scalp and address issues of hair loss and dry scalp.
Hot Stone Massage is of the most popular spa treatments today. Following this course, practitioners will surpass client’s expectations and have them returning again and again. This course uses the student’s current repertoire of massage techniques and teaches how to properly use heated stones into treatment designs that are either structured or spontaneous. The techniques taught allow students to provide either a relaxing, therapeutic or energetic treatment.
Shiatsu is a contemporary therapy with its roots in Oriental traditional medicine. Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure”. Natural body weight is used when pressure is applied on meridians (energy channels) and tsubo (pressure points). In addition to pressure itself, Shiatsu involves gentle stretch and manipulation techniques.
Body Mind Integration
Many of the bodywork and massage techniques explored in the Spa Therapy Program address the deep, subtle and chronic tensions held within the bodily structure. Freeing physical tension holds the possibility to in turn awaken, trigger or release contained emotions, traumas or memories stored in energy levels of the body. In the Body-Mind Integration component students will study and explore the psychosomatic relationship that exists between body, mind and spirit and learn to honor this connection within massage. The objective is to develop students’ ability to listen, support and respond to clients needs as they unfold while maintaining a grounded, integral and authentic presence.
During Professional Development students will examine the impulses, styles, preferences, passions and gifts that they naturally bring to their massage practice. Based on their unique characteristics and strengths, students will develop practical ways to hone their skills in the workplace and improve their effectiveness as professionals. Key focus areas include identifying personal vision and values, practicing effective communication, understanding the various roles and functions in the workplace, setting boundaries, developing strategies for dealing with conflict and cultivating an optimal balance between personal and professional life.
Spa Employment Preparation: This course will provide an overview of the spa industry locally, regionally and globally. Spa industry trends, opportunities and challenges for bodyworkers will be identified. Students will discuss ways to present personal & professional skills to a diverse industry. Individual preferences & thresholds for workload, pay, location and benefits will be determined.
Self-Employment: For wellness practitioners to create a successful self-employed career, in addition to being skilled at their craft, they must also have business skills. This course was created to provide the valuable tools and resources for a practitioner to start their own small business and to bridge the gap from being a skilled practitioner to being in practice.
A critical skill in sustaining a long and enjoyable practice as a bodyworker is the ability to take care of yourself. This seminar series will introduce students to the ancient principles of Ayurveda including nutrition, yoga, meditation and pranayama. Students are encouraged to commit to a self care regime for the duration of this demanding program and to develop habits for a long, healthy, happy life. You will learn the art of Ayurvedic Self Care in order to be successful in both your personal life and professional practice – increasing the longevity of your career and enjoying the work that you do.
This course provides a foundation of understanding the components of ethics. It will include an exploration of common ethical dilemmas which are relevant to bodywork and massage.
Students will receive a Level A certification in CPR.
This is the perfect opportunity for students to hone their professional skills, experiment with the different techniques they are learning and receive invaluable feedback from real clients.
During Student Clinic, students will gain practical experience including:
• Interacting with the general public
• Developing treatment plans based on client needs
• Working in a spa-like environment
• Developing professional skills
• Adhering to appointment times
• Working as a team
• Practicing spa modalities
• Receiving feedback from clients
• Receiving guidance from the Clinic Supervisors