Massage Therapy

Introduction to Massage Therapy Program

 Welcome to the online orientation. The following information will introduce you to our Program here at Riverland. You might have questions after going through the orientation, and, if so, please email Kris Graff, Program Director at


The massage lab is private and blinds and shades prevent passers-by from observing the lab activities. Students will both give and receive massages with their classmates. In our program you will be required to disrobe in order to receive massages from your classmates. At all times the draping with sheets, robes, etc. will promote modesty and professional behavior.

The courses you will be taking are listed on the side of these pages under Massage Therapy Program Information. You can click on the course number to hear about the course content. Below is additional information about each course.


Introduction to Massage Therapy: This course is taken as part of fall semester, but is actually completed before the full roster of fall classes begins. When applying to take this class, you must also enroll in all other fall massage courses. This class will introduce you to basic anatomy, including the human skeleton, superficial muscles and their primary actions, as well as body systems and their functions. Upon completion of this course, you will be able to perform a basic one-hour, full body massage while also knowing how to incorporate good body mechanics for you, the massage therapist. You will begin to learn and utilize common medical terms which will allow you to communicate appropriately with other health care professionals.

Kinesiology: In this course, you will review the skeletal system while progressing to deep-lying muscles of the body. When you successfully complete the class you will know the location of each muscle, where it originates and attaches, what motion it performs and the direction of the fibers. Classroom learning methods include drawing muscles on paper, and on each other, as well as creating clay muscles for skeletal attachment.

Intermediate Massage: In this course you will research an assortment of different massage modalities, as well as put into practice many additional strokes and techniques, building upon the basic, one-hour massage you learned previously. You will be learning specialized treatments for, among other conditions; headaches, tension, back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. The medically accepted S.O.A.P note format will be taught and implemented for all performed massages. You will create massage strokes of your own, study the ethics of massage therapy. You will also have the unique opportunity to work 1-on-1 with the instructor for individualized attention.

Chair Massage, Hot Stone Massage and Reflexology: Many techniques can be provided to clients receiving massage; even for those who are not able to comfortably lie on a massage table. In this class you will learn the techniques and routines of chair massage. On several occasions you will travel to perform chair massages to groups of clientele outside the safety of the classroom. You will learn the dynamics and safety measures necessary to give relaxing, therapeutic hot stone massage, and will end the course with in-depth training in the techniques of foot and hand reflexology.

Issues in Massage Therapy: Why do you want to be a massage therapist? Do you have the passion and the right "make-up" to excel in this profession? In this class you will focus on recognizing your strengths, communication skills, discuss the power of touch and recognize the body-mind connection. As a massage therapist, it is important to display professionalism, knowledge, and ethical behavior when dealing with others. Therefore communication with clients, client needs, and body/personality types will be addressed. Medical ethics are also explored. In addition, you will be taught the basics of who to contact, where to go and how to set up your own massage business. Licensing vs. certification (as it applies to massage therapy), joining national organizations, basic accounting for your massage business and more will be addressed.

Human Biology: This general studies course is taught by a faculty member from the biology department and may be taken in the classroom or on-line. Human Biology is scheduled to be taken during the first semester in conjunction with your massage classes.

Advanced Massage: Deep tissue massage, myofascial release and massage for clients with special needs is are all taught in this second semester course. You we will be introduced to  advanced deep tissue massage techniques. You will also learn techniques to be used in conjunction with precautions and special circumstances surrounding treatment of people with rheumatoid arthritis, MS, stroke, burns, whiplash, fibromyalgia, and many more pathological conditions. Basic techniques and contraindications involved with pregnancy massage, infant massage and geriatric massage will be covered as well.

Topics in Massage Therapy: In this  course we will explore current alternative treatment methods which may enhance or lessen the need for medical interventions exclusively. Meridian identification and application, aromatherapy, acupressure, ear candling, cupping, muscle testing & correction and spa treatments will be investigated and attempted with critical thinking applied to relative to effectiveness of each treatment. 

Special Populations: You will have previously learned about body systems and how they work in Intro. to Massage, as well as your Human Biology class. Now we will study common conditions and diseases that may affect each of these systems. Appropriateness, precautions and contraindications for massage are discussed for each condition. When massage is indicated, you will learn how your massage affects your clients' situations.

Clinicals and Internship: The primary purpose of Clinicals is to remove you from the comfort zone of the classroom and prepare you to enter the workforce. The focus of your knowledge and hands-on massage abilities now move from your fellow students to people from the community and the college. Students set up the clinic, schedule clients, balance the accounting books, maintain the lab and order supplies. You will discover what medical conditions and/or other stress factors have brought each client to you for a massage and it is here you will receive first hand experience, addressing such issues as age, gender, culture and medical histories. And it is here also where the medical terminology and S.O.A.P. note format you learned in Intermediate Massage will be implemented and utilized on a regular basis. An instructor will be available at all times to assist, if needed.

Workplace Human Relations: This general studies course is taught by a faculty member from the HR department and may be taken in the classroom or on-line. Workplace Human Relations is scheduled to be taken during the second semester in conjunction with your massage classes.


We want you to succeed as a student. The course information you will be assigned to read needs to be well comprehended and processed. Above average written communication skills are very important since you will be documenting your treatment and possibly communicating with other healthcare professionals.

*You are required to be CPR certified by the first day of the first class in July and to maintain current CPR status throughout the Massage Therapy Program. You will be providing massages to classmates, friends and family, as well as college and community members.  As a healthcare provider, you must be adequately prepared for any unexpected medical situation.

Books & Equipment

We work hard to keep the cost of books from being prohibitive. Many of your texts will be used in more than one massage class. Our courses build upon each other and skills learned in one area always transfer and link to all other program areas, thus making the books pertinent to several courses. In several of your courses, the homework includes performing a certain number of massages outside the classroom. Massage tables will be ordered for your purchase at the beginning of the year and these are then yours to keep after graduation.


Kristin Graff
Massage Therapy Instructor