What is an east/west massage school like?

The East/West Massage School Pillars:

East Asian Medical Theory
Western Anatomy & Physiology

East/West Massage School Video Transcript:

Hello, my name is Steve Rogne, I’m the school director at Zen Shiatsu Chicago. I’m here to give you a sense of what an east/west massage school is like.

Many of our students have always had an interest in Asian Healing Arts and Philosophies. This might include an interest in meditation, Tai Chi, Reiki, acupuncture, and other related methods. At Zen Shiatsu Chicago, you can fully dive into these methods in a way that also earns you the legal credential you need to practice.

In Illinois, all bodywork is regulated under the Massage Licensing Act. This means that to do any kind of touch for compensation, you need a massage license. The requirement is to complete a program that is at least 600 hours in length, and pass the national massage and bodywork exam.

Our program meets those requirements. By graduating, you’ll be eligible for a massage license. You will also be eligible for a certificate as a Shiatsu Therapist from the AOBTA (American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia). The massage license gives you the legal right to practice. The Shiatsu certificate indicates that you’ve mastered the holistic health care and energetic practices that are central to Asian healing arts.

Our graduates have a 100% pass rate on the national massage and bodywork exam. This means that our program does a great job teaching you the knowledge base needed to be an effective therapist. However, if your main interest is in the energetic, holistic healing arts, this program lets you focus on those methods as your primary course of study.

There are three pillars of content that you’ll cover. The first is East Asian Medical Theory. In East Asian Medical Theory courses, you’ll learn how to conduct a complete health history. You’ll learn how to help effectively with internal health problems, like issues with sleep, digestion or frequently getting sick, in the same way that an acupuncturist would. You’ll learn how to help with emotional health. You’ll learn how to use acupoint and meridian treatment to directly give relief to people suffering from internal health symptoms.

Along with this, you’ll also learn holistic lifestyle support, meaning that you can help people understand things they can do to support their own wellbeing. You’ll learn dietary factors, emotional factors, environmental and seasonal factors that affect health, and the steps that your clients can take to help themselves.

So that’s the first pillar: East Asian Medical Theory.

The second pillar is Western Anatomy & Physiology. In Anatomy class, you’ll learn the same knowledge base that is part of western massage therapy. You’ll learn the muscles, their actions, their origins and insertions. If someone has a pain when they do a certain movement, you’ll know which tissues might be injured and what you can do to help.

You’ll also learn the physiology of internal organ health from a western perspective.

Importantly, you’ll learn how to put these two disciplines together. This is what makes Zen Shiatsu therapists so knowledgable and effective. When you look at commonly encountered injuries and posture distortions, you’ll also learn: what acupoints are near those commonly injured structures? What meridians are involved in those posture issues? You’ll also be able to recognize when internal health or emotional health issues might actually be impeding healing, and you’ll have the skill to be able to help then as well.

You’ll also learn how to look at the western diseases that someone might be diagnosed with, and like an acupuncturist you’ll be able to apply the lens of East Asian medical theory to help them understand how to regain balance in the rhythm of their internal organs. You’ll be able to help through direct hands-on relief, and through holistic lifestyle consultation.

At the end of the training, you’ll be eligible for both a massage license as well as a shiatsu certificate. This gives you the legal right to practice, and the extra certification that shows you are ready to provide holistic health care in every sense of the word.

So for those of you who are exploring massage schools, but you know you are more aligned with East Asian healing approaches, our program is probably a perfect fit for you. It earns you the credentials you need while letting you explore the approach that is in the best alignment with your values and understandings.

Please reach out to us, we’re happy to help explore the possibilities.