Over the years, we have been witnessing the steady increase of so-called Thai Massage Teacher Training or Thai Massage Instructor programs.
As demand for Thai Bodywork increases in popularity globally, there is definitely need of more Thai Massage teachers. Nevertheless, students need to be cautious, or at least critical before choosing a program.
Most of the training programs will “make you a teacher” in about one to three months time—from scratch. Often you don’t even need any real experience as a Thai Massage practitioner. And often, if at all, you just hand in a rather small portfolio of logged massage sessions to prove your experience.
If you’d like to become a Thai Massage teacher you’d basically just pick a school, you learn a one or two week standard Thai Massage session sequence and you repeat the course say two, three, four times. Next you start assisting your teacher during regular courses and sometimes you even get the opportunity to teach one or more classes yourself (under supervision that is). And after that—you pay the bill.
But then, yeah well—you are “a teacher.” However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can automatically handout affiliated school certificates to your students. That might cost you a lot more—per certificate, that is (but then again, you can let your future students pay for that).
Certainly, you could always choose to write your own creatively designed certificates and just state that you became a teacher through this or that school. And sometimes there’s the opportunity to create an official franchise or branch. But the latter also—might cost you a certain “investment.”
Then there are programs which emphasize experience. This basically means handing in a certain amount of real-life (logged) sessions, being an active Thai Massage practitioner, and hand in proofs of a certain set of (recognized) course hours. Often you will also need to develop a study curriculum, that is, the Thai Massage course (or courses) you will offer your future students. Usually, continuous education is a requirement to stay registered as an instructor.
Another teacher training style is the so-called “organic way,” meaning—no specific timeline, but just studying, returning, studying, practicing, assistant teaching, and at some point in time you are “declared ready.” Afterwards you can start teaching courses, referring the lineage you trained with. An admirable concept indeed, but there’s a slight risk here of nepotism or endless training before being “declared teach-worthy.”
The real issue here is that there aren’t any official (state) programs. An exception is Thailand, where Thai Massage training is an official stately endeavor and quality-checked (sometimes practiced in a setting of studying Thai Traditional Medicine as a whole). But those programs are generally not accessible for foreigners. The governmental Thai Massage and Teacher Training programs are in the Thai language and besides that, the Thai have some sort of reluctance in sharing these programs with the rest of the world. This for many reasons, some valid, but that’s another subject.
There are however in the United Kingdom, in the USA, and in Europe hefty attempts to bring Thai Massage training on a stately recognized and accredited level. This is done mostly by incorporating Thai Massage training in existing (accredited) massage or bodywork programs, those which generally already focus on anatomy, physiology, business awareness, legislation, and so on. But even so, when it comes to Teacher Training programs it’s still somewhat a Wild West story and all highly arbitrary.
So basically, today still, anyone can label him or herself a Thai Massage teacher or instructor. No laws which forbid that. No regulation. No need to follow a program. But if you’d prefer some kind of “recognition” you just pay for speed-courses and affiliate programs, follow the experience-path, or study in the “organic” way.
Yet, I think an excellent teacher will be an excellent teacher anyhow, and this especially when it comes to Thai Bodywork—for you can teach, but you can not hide. Things will just simply show itself and gifted teachers will naturally popup high above the surface.