We're putting into place some exciting changes that we've been working on for a very long time here at the school, with an eye to teaching Clinical Thai Bodywork from the ground up. I have always found it somewhat challenging to integrate two separate aspects of what I teach: the techniques of traditional Thai massage, and the therapeutic framework that we've developed over the years that applies Travell & Simons style trigger point therapy as an organizing principle. Our new changes have gone a long way to accomplish this and will make for an exciting year ahead for us and our students.

demo-pec-minorI call the approach that I've developed Clinical Thai Bodywork, and taught the first course in 2005 based on how my own practice had evolved. It has been a challenge to implement the teaching of this artful application of the theory to traditional techniques and sequences -- sequences historically taught without any reference to muscles, anatomy, western physiology or medicine.

Historically, we have taught techniques in traditional flow classes, and have certified practitioners as well-informed but largely traditional therapists in our Certified Thai Bodywork Practitioner (TBP) program. Our CTB classes and certification have been relatively separate from the TBP program, a situation we've realized is not optimal. CTB is our unique offering to the world of bodywork, is incredibly effective, and our students want to learn to be effective therapeutically as early in their education as they can.

So we have developed a new approach that prepares you with clinical knowledge from the start of your education at Thai Bodywork.

Creating a More Integrated Curriculum

I've been conferring with our certified instructors for some time now regarding how to integrate these concepts into a curriculum that feels more seamless. We're excited to be rolling out these ideas in our 2016 curriculum, which we have just announced. We have several goals with these changes:

  • To introduce the clinical concepts earlier in the student's experience.
  • To eliminate the large, monolithic trainings (5 and 7 days) and provide more granularity with smaller incremental trainings in keeping with our philosophy of making it easy for adult learners to integrate study with busy lives, children, jobs, and so on.
  • While we want to make things more granular, we don't want to heavily penalize out of town students by making them take several more trips.
  • We want to use our precious time with students in the required TBP classes to teach more practical, clinically effective ideas that translate directly into practice, and being less concerned about teaching traditional techniques just because they exist.
  • To teach fundamental protocols during TBP certification that will serve as a foundation for the various CTB body areas.

Program Changes for 2016

  • The training formerly known as Level 2 has been transformed from a single 4.5 day training into two 2.5 day trainings, entitled Therapeutic Thai Bodywork for the Lower Body and Therapeutic Thai Bodywork for the Upper Body. These two may be taken consecutively as in the past, but may also be broken up. (Lower Body must be taken first).
    • The intent of the Lower and Upper Body trainings is to establish the foundational protocols that we use in our CTB body area trainings, such as CTB Hip/Knee and CTB Shoulder. The student learns the basic sequence of traversal through areas of the body and is comfortable with most of the techniques and their order before going into deep detail in the body area classes.
    • We teach the meaning and use of intelligently designed protocols which incorporate decision points -- as opposed to blind flows or sequences that are practiced without change or discrimination as a memorized routine.
    • The Lower and Upper Body classes also teach clinical skills in terms of palpation, assessing muscle and joint motion, finding taut fibers and tender areas, using Contract/Relax and many other core skills that set the student up to have more success with specific pain conditions, even during their TBP certification phase.
  • We have also divided the former 7-day Level 3 training into three 2.5 day workshops: Northern Style A: Supine and Side Position, Northern Style B: Prone and Seated Position, and Integrating the Thai Bodywork Practice.
    • The Northern Style A and B classes teach the traditional sequence from the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai, which serves as a canonical form in the Thai massage world. These classes may be taken separately but must be taken in order. We will make the classes available consecutively for the convenience of out of town students.
    • Integrating the Thai Bodywork Practice is a new course that allows us to work with TBP certification candidates at the end of their basic studies, and help them refine and integrate their knowledge into a skilled and effective bodywork practice. Topics include treatment design, interacting with clients, business issues and specific feedback and interaction from instructors. This is a key step that has been missing, and we are very excited to add this to our program.
  • We've added another new course, Neuromuscular Yoga Anatomy, which brings our deep knowledge of muscular function and dysfunction to the yoga world. This class has been very well received so far and we are looking forward to offering it as an option for new teacher trainees and experienced teachers looking for more knowledge. Our instructors are all passionate about yoga, and we're excited to bring this enlightening offering to yoga teachers -- who often come to us looking for way to apply this bodywork knowledge to their field. We're actively seeking studios who wish to add this offering to their teacher training curriculum.

We're excited about these changes and have gotten great feedback on them. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how these changes impact your certification, or if you are a new student looking to get started.