The last ten years has been rough for the massage therapy profession. Massage franchises taking advantage of a glut of vocational school graduates, and, hence, low wage rates, were able dropped their prices and draw millions of new customers into truly affordable massage therapy services. And then the bubble burst. Financially unsound schools started closing their doors across the nation. While most of the reputable schools, vocational or otherwise, survived, many of the fly-by-night operations perished - sometimes leaving students stranded with half an education. The Healing Arts Center took in many of the refugees from the vocational education implosion and helped them make their way to licensure - HAC style - which means mindfully and through personal transformation.
That was then, this now. Their are so few students entering the profession in 2015 that employers have become desperate for well-trained licensed massage therapists. Hospitals, high-end salons and other top-tier employers simply cannot find therapists to meet the demand. Wages are rising, slowly but surely. Companies that would only hire LMT's with two or three years of experience are now vying for the top students right out of school. At HAC recently, we had one salon owner crash our graduation to try to recruit our students.
The market place is in chaos. Finally, demand for the real-deal is leading to higher paying jobs for those with solid credentials and good people skills. As the owner of a number of St. Louis area spas put it recently, "HAC is almost the only school left standing that produces the quality and the numbers that mean anything to the profession." We are definitely feeling the pressure as more and more employers try to compete for our graduates.
HAC is a fully accredited school and yet, we have stuck to our guns and remained a bona fide source of holistic healing education. While students are eligible for a full array of federal student aid, we try to find ways for our students to fund their education with as little student debt as possible. Recently, a major massage therapy provider has started a scholarship program whereby they will pay for a full term of education for qualified students who are willing to take a guaranteed job for eighteen months after graduation. HAC is exploring other ways to pair reputable employers with students to provide tuition assistance while at the same time taking the hassle out of looking for a job after school.
And yet, despite this, we are not going to change our curriculum. We are not going to produce just any kind of massage therapists. We do not train technicians, we train healers. To do that we will always teach our students to meditate because we know that what comes out of a healer's hands starts in their mind - and it matters. We are the largest school in the region because we will not compromise on quality - ever. We are the oldest massage therapy program in the region because our graduates speak for us everywhere they go. We are never going to drop Reiki from our curriculum even if some people think that is too esoteric. We know that it makes a difference and so do our students. All of our students will be trained extensively in myofascial release and now sports massage because it provides powerful healing technique for those in need. We insist that our students put the "therapy" before, during and after "massage". If you want a back rub, you do not need anyone who has ever studied here.
We are not about to engage in the very behavior that nearly ruined the massage therapy profession. We are not going to take in students that have no interest in compassion as a professional work ethic. We will only train those are have the desire to create real wellness in human beings. This is why we are the oldest, biggest and strongest massage therapy program in the St. Louis region. It is about healing and wellness, not pampering.
From the first day that a student arrives at The Healing Arts Center, we make it clear to them that they have to put their own being on the line to make it through the program. They have to be open-minded and willing to learn the real healing potential of touch delivered with compassionate intention. It is no wonder that nearly everyone of our graduates love this school and would recommend it to their friends. They come in thinking they are going to learn a trade and come out having learned the true healing power of themselves. We go way past technique and delve into deep, personal transformation. That's what we do. That's what we are known for.
We intend to take back the nobility of this profession by doing what we have always done - by training wide-awake, compassionate beings - one healer at a time.
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