It’s not always true, but you could say that the best soccer trainers were top players themselves and the best Kung-Fu teachers are absolute masters in the art. Just to give you two examples. My point is, that the same counts for a Thai Massage teacher — becoming an excellent teacher means you basically need to be an excellent therapist first.
1. Treatment Experience
Having said that, I think you get the picture. You will need to have a lot of experience as a Thai Massage therapist, having treated many kinds of clients, with different kinds of health problems, in many kinds of situations, before you will be able to teach responsibly. Moreover, all this should be taking place across a substantial amount of time — let’s say, during a period of minimum two years or so — to be able to digest the work and your personal growth as a professional.
Another aspect is that you really need to master the art, in-depth, preferably being proficient in a variety of Thai Massage styles and applications. That, of course, means quite some training. I’d say, and that’s not a rule at all, you should have had at least about 800 hours of training, which is about the same as the curriculum that the Thai Ministry of Public Health has developed for the therapeutic Thai Massage profession. Mind that this is just a guideline.
3. Didactic Skills
Nevertheless, being trained and experienced is just part of the requirements. Of course, you will also need to be able to share your knowledge. Are you a teacher? To give another example — being the best soccer player in the world doesn’t automatically make you a good trainer.
So, do you have didactic skills? And if not, are you able or willing to develop those? You will need to deal with all sorts of people, and you will need to be able to handle classroom management effectively.
You see, Thai Massage students come for many reasons and the dynamics of a varied group can be demanding. You will have people who come for fun, out of curiosity, out of loneliness, to make a career change, or engage in continuing education, and what not. Not to talk about differences in character and personality of the students, and so on. All that needs to be tackled smoothly.
4. Thai Massage Instructor Training
So, what about Thai Massage Teacher training programs? Of course, it would be wise to do one, if only for credibility and to learn to teach a certain program i.e. lineage well. And, you will most likely gain some didactic skills also.
Additionally, belonging to a lineage gives you the opportunity to sell your training courses better, most of the times also being allowed to hand out completion certificates from your specific lineage. Thus, following a teacher training program can come handy.
Mind though, that many programs are rather short and turn you into a teacher in a few weeks or a few months (sometimes with additional requirements of having done a certain number of real sessions). This doesn’t count for all instructor training programs; some are structured in the “organic way,” meaning you will be declared “ready” to teach at some point in time, which could take years.
5. Starting to Teach
I think it’s wise to start with teaching small groups, like for instance max four to six students. This will give you the experience you need without immediately being overwhelmed by too many questions and needing to have ten eyes and ten ears to keep things under control. In any case, I think it’s never wise to teach groups larger than about ten students, unless you have an assistant instructor helping you. This is just my experience.
Another way to start getting experience with teaching is to first help out as an assistant teacher. In that way, you don’t have the end-responsibility, and it gives you the chance to tackle the learning curve more easily.
6. Location and Materials
Of course, you will need to think about where you will or want to teach. Do you have your own space or will you rent space? Will you connect with existing providers, like Yoga schools or other Thai Massage schools? How will you supply materials, mats, cushions, and the like?
These kinds of questions will influence business, promotional and financial aspects, which, by the way, is not the topic of this article, but still good to mention briefly.
Before you can start teaching Thai Massage responsibly certain requirements need to be fulfilled. These are not to be taken lightly. It will take you years of (therapeutic) treatment experience, a substantial set of study/training hours, and competencies in didactics.
On top of that, you will most likely want to enroll for a Thai Massage Instructor training program. After that, it is good to start humbly, perhaps first as an assistant teacher or with small groups, to really get the necessary teaching experience.