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NHI: Where Leaders Create Leaders!

By: Dr. Jeff Rockwell


Next month, NHI’s very own Jim O’Hara and Cynthia Ribiero will be presenting at the American Massage Therapy Association annual convention in Denver. Both Cynthia and Jim are “rock stars” in the field of massage therapy. Cynthia is a recent president of the AMTA and the developer of NHI’s Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy program. Jim not only has been at the forefront of developing educational programs for the profession for the past twenty years, but his book In The Land Of Shiva: A Memoir was recently released to rave reviews.

NHI is home to many of the best teachers in the field of massage therapy—by design. One of the most gratifying aspects of being part of this community is observing the number of students who go on to become leaders in their communities and in the profession. And two of the most prominent “leaders creating leaders” are Jim and Cynthia.

For this blog, Jim O’Hara was interviewed. I’m sure you’ll find his comments enlightening!




Jeff Rockwell: Jim, you and Cynthia Ribeiro are giving a (sold-out) workshop at the National AMTA convention this September on “Instructional Design” for massage teachers.

What’s the backstory on this?  Why is this topic so crucial and so in-demand?

Jim O’Hara: Teachers the world over really want to do a good job in the classroom, but are not always given the tools they need.  It’s unfortunate that in some massage schools, the eager teacher is simply handed a text book and told to teach from it.

While some publishers now offer lesson plans for teachers using their books, seldom do those lesson plans exactly fit the needs of the particular school.  Teachers are left wondering how to take a lengthy chapter and put the material into 4-hour classes.

JR:  So, why is NHI leading this training?

JOH: At NHI, we have a long, successful history of designing classes.  Part of the reason is that we have been in business for 30+ years, and have had to create effective classes long before the relatively recent explosion of textbooks geared to massage schools! It may surprise you, but many schools do not have a full-time Curriculum Coordinator, nor a full-time Teacher Trainer on their staff as NHI does, and has had for many years.  Put simply, I believe we really do know what we are doing in the area of curriculum and training.

JR: Why you and Cynthia?

JOH: My 20+ years at NHI both as instructor and the former Curriculum Coordinator are the background I bring to this, as well as my own graduate studies in education. Cynthia had run her own 1000-hour school for 20 years previous to coming to NHI, and has long taken a leadership role in the AMTA, so she knows well the needs of massage schools in the country. Also, both Cynthia and myself recently spent over 2 years on a nationally-selected panel of experts who created a blueprint for what the core pieces of massage education are.

JR: Can you give us some key ideas from the workshop you are presenting at the Denver convention?

JOH: Two of the most important concepts in designing a class are these: Scaffolding and Anchoring. “Scaffolding” means to structure each piece of information or skill-training in “bite-sized” pieces that build on each other.

A simple example of this would be how we teach our Swedish sequence. One Swedish massage class is just practice on learning moves like effleurage.  The next class applies those strokes to the back.  The following class reviews the back, and applies the strokes to the legs, and so on until we have a “full body” Swedish massage!  This is clear scaffolding, and is obvious for learning a sequence. Perhaps not so clear is the importance of scaffolding to learn physiology, or business practices, or customer service.

JR: Tell us about “anchoring.”

JOH: “Anchoring” is making sure there is an activity that solidifies the concept or skill in our minds and/or bodies. For example, the instructor may explain the characteristics that differentiate between muscle Origins and Insertions.  An anchoring activity could be to have students partner up and explain these distinctions to the other person – perhaps multiple times if that’s what it takes Jeff. Again, the instructor might talk about the importance of “weight transfer” for proper body mechanics, demonstrate it, and then have everyone stand and do it even though they are not actually doing massage at the moment.

JR: Aren’t these concepts pretty basic? Don’t all teachers automatically do them?

JOH: The “anchoring” activity is often forgotten, or left until the end of the class, because the teachers feel they must “cover” so much material. The most powerful anchoring activities, interactive exercises, are short, and done “in the moment.”

I like to think that NHI instructors do see these concepts as basic, because they are so often already built into our lesson plans and are part of our teaching culture. Come to the convention!


Thank you Jim!




Look for our next interview with Cynthia Ribiero. And remember: Be. Here. Wow!

jim book


August 29, 2014   1 Comment

A Peek Into The 2012 AMTA National Convention

NHI Graduate Frankie Menzel won the 2012 NHI/Biofreeze AMTA Convention Scholarship.  Read about his achievement here in Massage Magazine.  Below is Frankie’s take on what the award meant to him.

This is the second year that NHI and Biofreeze have teamed up to offer the Melissa Wheeler Scholarship, which sends a student or graduate from NHI to the AMTA National Convention. The scholarship was created last year when the AMTA was recognizing our very own Melissa Wheeler as Teacher of the Year! The scholarship is open to any student or grad from any of the seven NHI campuses, where only one is chosen.  I had to apply.

My name is Frankie, and I recently graduated from the Advanced Program in July from the Emeryville campus. My experience with attending NHI has been full, and I have loved every minute of it. I found myself in an atmosphere that was so conducive to learning, with an amazing support system. The campus, staff and students alike, radiated such positive energy, that it propelled me forward day after day, giving me a feeling of accomplishment. I craved more.

NHI has been so supportive  in and out of the classroom. I am very grateful that I have been given many opportunities, and I made sure that I was not going to limit myself. I took every one that was put in my path.

This was the second year that I applied for the scholarship. I obviously did not receive it last year, but the way I saw it, I had nothing to lose. I applied again this year, again throwing my chances up into the universe to see what would manifest. Little did I know the feelings and emotions that I would soon be experiencing.

I was in a parking lot when my cell phone rang. Melissa Wheeler was on the other end. “Frankie…..” she said. I could tell from the tone of her voice that the news was good. I was excited beyond belief, and in total shock. I have NO idea what the next 20 minutes of our conversation included, all I remember is that my face hurt from the smile that was smeared on my face from one ear to the next….I felt as though I had won the lottery. I was going to the AMTA National Convention!

Read On For Pictures and Frankie’s Diary of the Event! ☟

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December 20, 2012   1 Comment

National Holistic Institute Santa Ana Campus Prepares Students for Success

This Spring, National Holistic Institute opened its newest campus in Santa Ana, CA (Orange County). Eager massage students began classes in May with a Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting celebration following shortly after on June 21. NHI offers a comprehensive program that covers a variety of modalities within Western and Eastern styles of massage, combined with business and science classes.

Today, those students that began in Group 80 have completed their Western segment – They have become Seniors and welcomed new Juniors to their Group as they move into the Eastern massage modalities. This two-segment structure allows the Seniors to hone their skills by passing what they have already learned to their Juniors. As Particle Physicist Frank Oppenheimer said, “The best way to learn is to teach”. We are excited to see them progress in their journey to having work they love!

NHI Group 80 Students in Santa Ana

As of today, four classes are already in session with one more class scheduled to start later in September! NHI Santa Ana is located minutes from South Coast Plaza and John Wayne Airport. In addition to classrooms and offices, the 10,000 square foot campus features a clinic providing low-cost massages to the public while giving students practical training opportunities.

NHI Santa Ana is one of many examples of the growing importance of the massage therapy industry in Southern California in general and Orange County in particular. NHI Studio City, the school’s other Southern California location opened in August 2006, has experienced a 50% enrollment increase over the last two years. Founded in 1979, NHI was California’s first accredited massage school. The World Massage Festival named NHI as the 2012 Massage Therapy School of the Year.

NHI Santa Ana graduates will have a wide choice of employment options. Currently, there are hundreds of successful massage therapy businesses in Orange County ranging from independent massage therapists, medical offices with massage therapists on staff, spas, and national chains such as Massage Envy which currently has 20 outlets in Orange County and more are in the planning stages.

Cynthia Ribeiro, president of the American Massage Therapy Association and developer of NHI’s Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program, said “The attitude towards massage therapy as an important therapeutic option has evolved so much over the past two decades and many more massage therapists are working in clinical settings which is fueling demand for NHI graduates.”

NHI Santa Ana offers a core 900 hour massage therapy program as well as a 450 hour Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program for those who have had prior training in massage therapy and seek to boost their knowledge of injury rehabilitation, pain management, and special needs clients in a variety of clinical settings.

Prospective students interested in NHI Santa Ana should visit the school’s website or contact 714-668-9263.

September 12, 2012   1 Comment

Cynthia Ribeiro Helps Spread the Message of Massage to the Masses | The AMTA Massage Therapy Tour

This week, we spoke with Cynthia Ribeiro, American Massage Therapy Association President, WIN Therapy founder, and curriculum developer for NHI’s Advanced Neuromuscular Program.

L-R President-Elect Winona Bontrager, President Cynthia Ribeiro and Executive Director Shelly Johnson stopped by the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour.

Leading AMTA and the massage therapy profession, Cynthia has noticed a disconnect between the massage therapy profession and the public’s perception of our field. Many people are unaware of the benefits of massage and of the availability of certified and licensed therapists throughout the country. AMTA members have volunteered to join Cynthia in the “AMTA Massage Therapy Tour

AMTA Tour volunteers working on the public at the Lowell Folk Festival 2012

“Our mission here at NHI is to ‘help people have work they love.’ Similarly in my role as President of the American Massage Therapy Association, my job is to help our member massage therapists succeed in their careers. In doing so, I’m proud to announce a new initiative by the AMTA – our Consumer Awareness Program. This program will run advertising campaigns nationally to drive more business to AMTA massage therapists. One really neat aspect of the campaign will be a tour around the country with the AMTA van. I had fun riding in (note: they wouldn’t let me drive!) the van back in Chicago. Check out the photos and video here and look for the AMTA Awareness Campaign coming soon!” ~Cynthia Ribeiro

AMTA volunteers educating consumers on the benefits of massage at Times Square Summer Fest.

September 4, 2012   No Comments

National Holistic Institute Named Massage School of the Year

National Holistic Institute was named Massage School of the Year last night during the Industry Awards Ceremony at the 2012 World Massage Festival in Las Vegas.  Joe Bob Smith, NHI’s Strategic Development Manager, accepted on behalf of the numerous staff, students, and graduates who have worked for 33 years to make NHI what it is today.  The award was presented by noted international massage teacher James Waslaski.

Massage School of the Year Award

Brian Halterman, NHI alumnus, holds the Association of the Year award on behalf of ABMP while Joe Bob Smith displays NHI’s Massage School of the Year award.

Other industry awards handed out included the Association of the Year which went to ABMP.  Brian Halterman, a graduate of NHI and ABMP’s Education Program Coordinator, accepted.  Longtime friend and supporter of NHI, Lynda Solien-Wolfe of Biofreeze received the first Bonnie Prudden Meritorious Award for her volunteering and service to the massage profession.

Lynda told Joe Bob that it was actually an encounter with James Charlesworth, NHI graduate and former staff member, in the mid-90’s that led her on a path of volunteering.  Coincidentally, James Charlesworth was posthumously inducted into the Massage Hall of Fame at a World Massage Festival ceremony held Sunday night.  Jim was most known for creating the Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT).  During the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Jim desperately wanted to help.  So, he did what he knew best – massage.  Jim and many of the students and staff of NHI worked tirelessly to massage relief workers and victims of the earthquake.  Jim’s legacy has lived on at NHI where, for over 20 years, students and staff continue to offer help in times of need.

But Jim had an even bigger vision and took MERT to the American Massage Therapy Association where it became a national program.  Cynthia Ribeiro, NHI’s curriculum supervisor and AMTA President, became teary-eyed when recalling Jim’s sense of giving.  Cynthia volunteered with Jim at the AMTA several years before she joined NHI.  She’s proud that both AMTA and NHI have continued to fulfill Jim’s dream.

James Charlesworth Hall of Fame Award

James Charlesworth’s posthumous induction into the Massage Hall of Fame is received by Joe Bob Smith on behalf of NHI from Judi Calvert, massage historian and founder of Massage Magazine.

While at the World Massage Festival, Joe Bob was honored to participate in an industry panel for aspiring massage therapists.  Panelist shared personal stories of how they came to be where they are in the profession and included Angie Patrick of Massage Warehouse, AMTA-Nevada President David Otto, WMF Educator of the Year Michael McGillicuddy, massage blogger Laura Allen, Lynda Solien-Wolfe, James Waslaski,’s Ryam Hoyme, author Cherie Sohnen-Moe, nationally known instructor David Kent, and American Massage Conference founder Scott Dartnall.

Massage Industry Panel

Massage Industry Panel participants Angie Patrick, David Otto, Michael McGillicuddy, NHI Strategic Development Manager Joe Bob Smith, Laura Allen, Lynda Solien-Wolfe, James Waslaski, Ryan Hoyme, Cherie Sohnen-Moe, David Kent and Scott Dartnall.


August 21, 2012   11 Comments

Interview with Nicole Vandehurst, NHI Instructor and President of the Redwood Empire AMTA Unit:

Nicole Vandehurst has been a member of the AMTA since 2004 and was recently elected President of the Redwood Empire Unit. She brings a rich background of experience as a massage therapist along with a dedication to education and advancement of the field.  In addition to her new role as President of the Redwood Empire AMTA Chapter, Nicole continues to provide her skill and passion for massage to our students as instructor at National Holistic Institute.

During the interview, Nicole candidly shared her views on professional massage therapy organizations, her hopes for her chapter in the coming year and her excitement about the legislative changes happening in the field of massage therapy.

Why did you become an AMTA member?
I want to be a member of an organization that stands for professionalism in this field. I believe it enhances my standing as a massage therapist. 

What benefits are there to joining a professional organization?
AMTA membership offers many benefits to massage therapists: It provides a sense of community and support, networking opportunities, continuing education, insurance, and up to date information on what is happening in the field – from current research to updates on legislative changes, both locally and nationally. I particularly like that it is a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of the entire field of Massage Therapy. I love the newsletters and magazines and always find inspiration in the articles for my practice and my teaching.

Why choose AMTA?
There are a couple of good choices for Massage Therapists wanting to be part of a professional organization and some therapists like to join more then one. I chose AMTA  because of the local chapters. It is so valuable to have that community support and dialogue. Also, AMTA has the ability to bring nationally recognized leaders in the field to the local chapters. I am a life long student of Massage Therapy and I appreciate all the education opportunities AMTA offers. I hope I never stop learning!

There are many changes happening in the field right now, especially in California. AMTA helps me stay current with what the newest trends are and with what is happening in our local legislation. It is an exciting time to be a massage therapist, but the rapid changes can sometimes be confusing too. AMTA helps us know what is going on without feeling overwhelmed. Their website gives information on how to get involved . As a massage therapist with a busy practice and a teaching career, I find the website one of the easiest ways to stay informed.

Another great thing about the website is that you can see a national calendar of events as well as your local calendar. So if I am traveling and want to find out what is happening in the area I am visiting, or if I want to locate a particular teacher, I have all the information I need in one place.

What goals do you hope to accomplish as chapter president?
I hope to increase local membership and chapter involvement. I want to be a thriving and connected community. I see us all working together to increase public awareness of the value of massage therapy. Education and networking will support successful Massage Therapists and they in turn will be supporting community wellness and health.

How do your roles of AMTA chapter president and instructor at NHI intertwine?
NHI has always stood for the highest standards of professionalism and education, and so does AMTA. They fit together like hand and glove.

April 19, 2012   1 Comment

California Massage Therapy Awareness Day

Love massages?  Love holidays?  How awesome would a massage holiday be?

The State Assembly has declared January 12, 2012, “California Massage Therapy Awareness Day!”

Just over two years ago, state-recognized certification began through the California Massage Therapy Council.  With over 27,000 CAMTC-certified massage professionals to date, the California State Assembly is recognizing the strength of the massage therapy profession by naming a whole day in our honor.

California Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, Vice Chairman of the Assembly Business & Professions Committee, is arranging the resolution (Assemblymembers Hayashi, Ma and Butler signed/co-authored). He will present a framed copy of the resolution to Melissa Colburn, California Chapter President of the American Massage Therapy Association, and Patricia Rusert Gillette, AMTA-CA Greater Sacramento Area Unit President, on the Floor of the Assembly on Thursday, January 12th, during Assembly Session.

Professional members of the AMTA-CA chapter from the area who are CAMTC-certified will be providing complimentary chair massages to the public.  John Lambert, an NHI teacher and graduate, will be among them.


National Holistic Institute is proud to take part and see our profession officially honored by the State of California!


January 12, 2012   No Comments

Experiencing the 2011 AMTA National Convention | Guest Post: NHI/Biofreeze Scholarship Winner Lya Daggett

This year, National Holistic Institute and Biofreeze awarded their very first AMTA Convention Scholarship to Lya Daggett, a senior student at the NHI Sacramento campus. This scholarship honors Melissa Wheeler, the 2010 AMTA/Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year and NHI faculty member, and pays all registration and travel expenses for an NHI senior or graduate to attend the American Massage Therapy Association National Convention. Read on as Lya shares some amazing insights into the knowledge shared at the convention.  Her summaries will make you feel like you were there getting some free CE massage classes!

L-R: Author Whitney Lower, Massage Therapy Foundation President Ruth Werner, 2010 AMTA Teacher of the Year and NHI faculty Melissa Wheeler, NHI/Biofreeze Scholarship Winner Lya Daggett, Trail Guide to the Body Author Andrew Biel, 2012 AMTA President and NHI faculty Cynthia Ribeiro, and NHI Strategic Development Manager Joe Bob Smith.

Day 1: Wednesday Night, Oct 18th
Upon my arrival, I rode the MAX light rail from the airport through Portland. Entering the Double Tree, there was a large light up sign on the high wall that greeted the AMTA convention attendees. There was a definite buzz in the lobby with all the small scattered groups of people with matching event lanyards and backpacks. I wanted to be an identifiable part of this group, so I checked into my room, grabbed my jacket and headed out towards the Convention Center.  The convention goers were everywhere as I made my way down the streets. Just in time, I got my lanyard, backpack, and bright pink ribbon identifying me as a newbie.
When I got back to the hotel, up to the 14th floor, there was a party going on next door to my room. I was certain that it was an AMTA gathering of some sort. Curiosity got the best of me and so I walked slowly down the hall and casually glanced at the open double doors of the room. The gathering was filled with well dressed MTs who were carrying on like they were at a holiday party/family reunion. As I went back to my room and prepared for bed, I enjoyed the laughter coming through the wall.

Day 2: Thursday, Oct 19th
First thing in the morning I could already hear chatting and laughter in the hallway. Breakfast was at a local café hosted by the California Chapter AMTA. I met up with NHI grad and TA Cheri Keene and walked over to the café. We were greeted into the warm and cozy space by Melissa Colburn, the California Chapter President. NHI teacher Patrick Keehan joined us in line. Here is also where I met Melissa Wheeler and Joe Bob Smith for the first time. I knew instantly that I was in good hands. We huddled around a small table and took a couple photos while we waited for our breakfast. There were at least three NHI Alumni from years past seated around the room who would eventually come say hello to Melissa W. As I sat back in my chair trying to take it all in, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in an exclusive club, sitting at the cool kids table. After a lovely speech by Melissa C., we walked to the Convention Center.
The Opening Session & Awards Presentations were about to begin. The room was filled with many different kinds of people from all over the United States. At that moment I knew that I was a part of something fabulous. The diversity was remarkable. Some MTs had grouped themselves together by State Chapter and many were wearing matching t-shirts. The AMTA President spoke with a genuine smile as though she was greeting all her favorite friends from college. The Keynote Speaker, Kevin Carroll, was incredibly inspiring. Hearing his story gave me the feeling that if I worked hard, I could truly accomplish anything that I put my heart into. The awards were fun to watch. People were getting awards for many different things including how long they had been a part of the AMTA. I can’t imagine what some of the people who have been massaging for thirty-plus years must have had to endure without the current support we now have for Massage Therapy.
Following the Opening Session, Massage Envy sponsored a beautiful lunch for “First-timers.” It was fun sitting at the large round table hearing where the other therapists travelled from. I made quick work of my delicious red quinoa so that I could excuse myself from the table and head to the exhibits.
I began moving through the isles of exhibits a little overwhelmed by all there was to look at. The first place that I stopped at was the Trail Guide to the Body booth. Here I met Andrew Biel who dressed just like someone who would have rock climbed skeletons in his text book. He was very approachable and easygoing. At the booth I learned about some online study resources for students and gained even more of an appreciation for the text that NHI had chosen to use in its program. It was in the Exhibit Hall that I met NHI ANMT creator and incoming 2012 AMTA President Cynthia Ribeiro and received the best hug I’ve had in a long time. I felt her genuine warmth as she urged me to call her if I needed anything. Next, Melissa W. introduced me to Lynda Solien-Wolfe and the other fabulous people of Biofreeze. It is doubtful that they realize how much I appreciate their generosity in funding the scholarship and what an incredible difference they have made in the start of my professional life. After pictures, I wandered around taking in all the excitement and then realized that it was class time.

L-R: NHI Strategic Development Manager Joe Bob Smith, Performance Health CEO Marshall Dahneke, NHI/Biofreeze Scholarship Winner Lya Daggett, 2010 AMTA Teacher of the Year and NHI faculty Melissa Wheeler, Biofreeze Director of Clinical Education and Research Lynda Solien-Wolfe, and 2012 AMTA President and NHI faculty Cynthia Ribeiro.

The classes that I took were led by people who were all very motivational. Some of the classes were very organic without much of an outline, using group discussion to propel it through to different topics.

Transition from Clients to Patients
Elizabeth McIntyre presented this class on different aspects of clinical settings. She starts by suggesting that new MTs spend two to three years working before pursuing work in Health Care settings. Also suggested is to get HIPAA certification. She explained that the Clinical environment is a conservative one. No shorts, cover tattoos, no visible body piercings, hair pulled back, no perfume/aftershave lotion, closed shoes, no sandals and wear security badge at all times. Some of the things that she suggests one going into a healthcare facility to work, be aware of are the special precautions when working with certain groups of people. Also, know about and protect yourself from the different infections that you would be exposed to.
After my first class I met a couple of women from New Hampshire. When they found out that I was a first-timer, they insisted that I join them for a quick trip to the House of Delegates Meeting. During the short time that we were observing, the delegates were expressing opinions on the issue of Fibromyalgia. It was interesting to see how many people were involved in the decision making process of the AMTA.

Smart Marketing with Social Media
This fun and dynamic speaker, Felicia Brown, defined marketing as anything that touches the client and makes them want to (or not to) do business with you or your company. Social media marketing was described as marketing on the web. She suggests using social media to build a relationship with people who want to feel connected. Because it is easy for many of us to lose track of time when online, have a plan before getting on the computer. Set a boundary for time and social media, for example 20 minutes a night. Find out what social media sites your potential clients use. Felicia states her top social media sites as being Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Make each of your sites a little unique and exciting. Facebook is a great way to increase communication with clients. You can thank them for “liking” your page. Always remember HIPAA rules and never write any persons personal information. Felicia also warns against ever putting anything out on the internet that you don’t want the world to see. On Yelp you can create a company profile and ask clients to post on it. Monitor it regularly to make sure that you are aware of any issues that may arise. Use YouTube to link videos to your website or Facebook. Twitter can be used for microblogging, announcing specials and events. She outlines tasks that could help business. Create content by: regular updates, sharing quotes and links, posting videos and pictures. Create and encourage conversations by: writing a blog, participating in groups, asking and answering questions. Create an expert image and persona by: sharing resources about industry, highlighting the services offered, explaining benefits of various modalities. Create connections by: inviting people to connect/become friends, making recommendations, commenting on others’ status or links. Create opportunities for people to take action: links to your website and blog, information about upcoming specials, request reviews. Increase professional knowledge and confidence: watch YouTube videos (, like or fellow industry experts (, reading and commenting on blogs.

Day 3: Friday, Oct 20th
Five Fast Tracks to Filling Your Practice
In this class taught by Mr. Stephenson, we learned about five things to consider when wanting to better your practice. At the beginning of the class the presenter shared some striking statistics. A Massage Therapists’ career expectancy is 6.3 years. There are 60,000 people a year in MT school. 50,000 people a year exit the massage profession.
1] Make your clients highly satisfied as opposed to simply satisfied. Highly satisfied clients are two times likely to return and three times likely to recommend to a friend.
2] Communication, 80% is non-verbal. Have good intent and an open heart when speaking to a client. Know if you are talking to a feeler or thinker and adjust your language to match them. When getting feedback during a session, don’t ask “How’s the pressure?” Do ask “would you like more pressure?” or “would you like less pressure?” Mirror back what you heard the client say. Pay attention to what the client wants when beginning a session and repeat it back to them. Communicate very clearly what the agreement is so that the expectations of the client are met.
3] The Sacred Three: Give a warm welcome. Find out why they are there, and then deliver. Invite them to return.
4] Media research. Research so that you can educate your client at timely stages off the interaction.
5] Treatment Planning. Make an educated guess on how many sessions it would take to improve a problem area, and then give the client the opportunity to agree to the timeline and pay for the sessions.
The final point that I took away from the class was to make a BHAG – Big Harry Audacious Goal.

Setting and Managing Boundaries
Kirk Nelson begins by listing some different types of boundaries for Massage Therapy. Physical, emotional, professional, sexual, and social. Some common boundary myths include that if I set boundaries, I’m being selfish. Boundaries are a sign of disobedience. If I begin setting boundaries, I will be hurt by others. If I set boundaries, I will hurt others. Boundaries mean that I am angry. Boundaries cause feelings of guilt. Boundaries are permanent and I’m afraid of burning my bridges. Nelson describes Ten Laws of Boundaries.
1] Law of Sowing and Reaping: Understanding cause and effect.
2] Law of Responsibility: Being responsible “to” others, and not “for” others.
3] Law of Power: Honoring the power of change vs. the power of acceptance.
4] Law of Respect: Respecting the boundaries of others earns respect for our own.
5] Law of Motivation: Acting from a place of love instead of fear.
6] Law of Evaluation: Recognizing the difference between “hurt” and “harm”.
7] Law of Proactivity: Moving from showing what you hate to what you love.
8] Law of Envy: Focusing on the boundaries of others.
9] Law of Activity: Creating positive boundaries requires us to be active.
10] Law of Exposure: Communicating your boundaries openly.
After my classes for the day, I was invited to a Massage Envy gathering back at the hotel. There was food presented in the middle of the room and tables of people arranged around it. Here is where I met authors Ruth Werner and Whitney Lowe and the CEO of Biofreeze, Marshall Dahneke, all very inspiring people. As I looked around, Joe Bob identified the other massage professionals in the room. After Massage Envy VP GC Funk gave a speech, as tradition, Joe Bob was invited to the microphone to sing a couple songs. This was an extremely entertaining experience as the crowd cheered and the backup singers gave it their all. I had the opportunity to speak with a few Massage Envy employees who raved about how much they enjoyed working for the company. I took this as a sign to look into possible Massage Envy employment.

Day 4: Saturday, Oct 21st
Navigating the Complex World of Health Care Integration
This was a panel discussion lead by a Massage Therapist, Naturopathic Doctor, Physical Therapist and Medical Doctor. The Power Point presentation is available on the AMTA website under the 2011 National Convention Speaker Handouts, and is definitely worth taking the time to go through and think about. The panel discussed a lot of different ways that MTs are and aren’t a part of integrated health care. The advice that stuck with me was to reframe our professional image as Massage Therapists and “claim what’s ours”. To me, I took it as an invitation to push in creating the kind of work environment I want. If I want to be a respected member of a health care team, then I have to create in myself a respectable, knowledgeable Massage Therapist.
Massage Therapists like to dance. I had heard this a few times in Portland, but didn’t truly understand until the Dinner Dance. I took my sister, Amber, who lives in Portland as my date. A huge conference room beautifully decorated for a semi formal dinner was filled with the people that I had seen throughout the last few days. In the middle of the elegantly arranged dining tables laid a stack of Styrofoam airplanes in honor of next year’s convention to be held North Carolina, birthplace of manned flight. As soon as the band began to play, the tables emptied and the dance floor was overflowing with people dancing like they didn’t have a care in the world. As they danced, a constant flow of fifteen or so Styrofoam airplanes soared over the dance floor. In the back of the room a line began to form at the photo booth. People were decorating themselves with big hats, wigs, giant sunglasses, and boas for their turn in front of the camera. As Lynda and Joe Bob were cuttin’ it up on the dance floor, and Melissa was giving relationship advice to my sister, I again acknowledged the appreciation I had for the whole experience. Not only had I learned things in classes that would help me build a strong career, but I also realized that I am part of an incredible group of individuals and have a choice as to what extent I can be involved in growing and moving the Massage Therapy profession forward. I look forward to my experiences at the 2012 AMTA National Convention.

~Lya Daggett,
NHI Senior Student, Sacramento Campus

Congratulations to Lya and a huge thank you to Biofreeze and AMTA, as well as everyone else involved for making this opportunity possible!

December 8, 2011   10 Comments

Extending Thankfulness Through the Year With Massage Therapy

Through the past month and the Thanksgiving holiday, most people take the time to reflect on what they are thankful for. Usually the common answers to the question are family, friends, and health. As for me, I am thankful for Massage Therapy – and for many reasons.

The demand for Massage Therapists has increased – giving more and more people a chance for employment in this economy. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Massage Therapy employment is expected to raise 19% by 2018 which is faster than the average percentage for all occupations.

Slowly, yet surely, the benefits of Massage Therapy are touching the lives of all Americans. As of right now, 18% of adult Americans have had a massage at least once in the last year. There is a rise in massage students who have expressed interest with low income families as their target market once they graduate. This interest will help the benefits of massage therapy be more accessible to the entire population.

As time passes, more studies with massage therapy used as complimentary medicine emerge with factual and reliable evidence. There are many doctors that will recommend massage for their patients to help with a variety of symptoms. Especially as a way to manage stress and pain. This has led to an average of 1.5 direct referrals from health care professionals per therapist per month.

Massage Therapy is bringing joy into the world one session at a time and one job at a time. Whether you receive massage or give massage, there is a high calling to this field. And for this, I am thankful.

For more massage therapy statistics:

To learn about NHI’s Massage Therapy Program:

~Amy Atkins
NHI Sacramento Instructor

December 7, 2011   No Comments

Cynthia Ribeiro and NHI’s Advanced Program on Shoulder Rehabilitation and Massage

Over the weekend of August 20th, National Holistic Institute’s own Julie Porter and Esko Homsi assisted new AMTA President Elect Cynthia Ribeiro with a class on shoulder rehabilitation and massage at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center in Prescott Arizona.

The event was an AMTA sponsored, 10 hour, continuing education class offered to the AMTA’s Arizona chapter members. The class consisted of trigger point work, several muscles involved with shoulder anatomy, assessment, and ample bodywork time.

Cynthia shined, as usual, commanding instant respect upon a room of 80 or so members. She was very animated going over a broad range of information in a matter of hours. Julie and Esko were there assisting with both body mechanics and clearing up questions on the comprehensive knowledge for students needing some more clarity on the information.

“A lot of the students had a plethora of knowledge reflected in their work this weekend, but at the same time it made me realize how advantageous our program is to most programs around the country. The overall quality of work from body mechanics, to understanding the anatomy, to application of techniques is really put into a complete picture for the students here at NHI. It’s clear that they receive a more complete puzzle than some throughout the country.” ~Esko

“Cynthia, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your expert teaching this weekend in Prescott. You are the most fun and well versed instructor I have ever had. Even though you had to go quickly to cover the information you had two excellent assistants to help answer my questions and to help the two day class go smoothly.” ~AMTA member

Though the workshop was an AMTA event, the Advanced Program and NHI was well represented, by both Cynthia and her assistants. Overall, it was a huge success and will lead to more opportunities for NHI to appear at national massage therapy events for NHI in the years to come.

September 8, 2011   No Comments

National Holistic Institute and Biofreeze Announce Winner of the 2011 AMTA Convention Scholarship

National Holistic Institute and Biofreeze proudly announce that Lya Daggett, a senior student at the NHI Sacramento campus, has won the 2011 NHI/Biofreeze AMTA Convention Scholarship, honoring 2010 AMTA/Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year and NHI staffer Melissa Wheeler.


Lya will receive complimentary registration, airfare, and hotel for the 2011 American Massage Therapy Association National Convention in Portland, Oregon, this October compliments of NHI and generous underwriting from Biofreeze. While at the convention, Lya will attend numerous continuing education classes as well as special events as a representative and honoree of NHI and Biofreeze.

Many inspirational and compelling applicants submitted essays and letters of recommendation. The scholarship committee expressed desire to send them all. However, with above 95% attendance, over 3.8 GPA, a creatively written essay, and two glowing letters of recommendation, Lya demonstrated herself as a standout student and massage therapist.

In her scholarship essay she writes, “The dream of Massage Therapist has been with me since I was a child.” Lya is especially excited about attending the AMTA National Convention for the first time. “Attending the AMTA National Convention will enrich my massage career in many ways that I know, and many more that I won’t realize until I’m back in Sacramento sharing what I learned with my NHI student family.”

Lya plans to bring as much of the convention experience back with her for those who cannot make the trip by “providing written and verbal information/discussion to my classmates as well as some hands on demonstration. I would also be delighted to lead a discussion group for any interested students.” Lya graduates as a professional Massage Therapist and Health Educator with 720 hours of training from NHI this November. Her training has also enabled her to become certified by the California Massage Therapy Council.

The NHI/Biofreeze AMTA Convention Scholarship is open to seniors and graduates of all 6 NHI campuses and was the brainchild of NHI veteran teacher Melissa Wheeler. After being named the 2010 AMTA/Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year, Melissa envisioned a way others could experience the same sort of inspiration provided to her by attending massage conventions throughout her career. She knew many students and graduates beginning their careers did not have the means to attend and, thus, the idea of a scholarship was born. With a multi-year financial commitment from Biofreeze, NHI and Melissa Wheeler hope this annual scholarship will help Lya Dagget and other future massage therapists have work they love!

August 24, 2011   No Comments

Sacramento Bee Features New National Holistic Institute Campus as Part of Largest California Massage School

Photo by Manny Crisostomo of the Sacramento Bee

As a positive energy fills the air surrounding NHI’s brand new campus in Sacramento, CA, the Sacramento Bee and the Press Democrat both put the massage therapy profession into a new perspective.  The Bee article covers the growing demand for massage in the state’s capitol even through a rough economy.  Steve Pierce of Massage Envy Spas told the Bee,

“I’ll tell you how things are. If  NHI Sacramento had 20 or 30 massage therapists ready to graduate, I’d hire them all right now,”

Check out the article here:  

The Press Democrat featured a similar story:

“The industry’s growth has been prompted by several factors, she said, including a greater acceptance by medical professionals of the value of massage therapy and new state certification standards.”

Check out the article here:  

Despite a growing industry, we feel it is more important than ever for every massage therapist to be interconnected and get the best education possible.  With a focus on community and personal development, NHI staff and mentors strive to give each individual student the tools that they need to succeed.

March 2, 2011   No Comments

NHI Leads the Conversation on Career Placement, Massage Certification and Best Practices for Massage Therapy Education at the AMTA Schools Summit

What makes a massage school successful?  National Holistic Institute panelists shared many secrets for success at last week’s American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) School Summit.  San Jose Campus Manager Beth McNeil moderated a spirited discussion among audience members and Vice-President of Education Linda Rikli, Petaluma Campus Manager Tiahna Skye, Vice-President of Admissions Jennifer Jhanda, Admissions Manager Raquel Rodriguez, and Dean of Students Ron Peat.  NHI President Tim Veitzer cheered on from the audience.  Hot topics included student retention methods, admissions policies for special circumstances, faculty training, and maintaining consistency across multiple campuses.

Left to Right: Beth McNeill, Linda Rikli, Tiahna Skye, Jen Jhanda, Raquel Rodriguez and Ron Peat. AMTA Schools Summit NHI Panel

Several audience members expressed difficulties trying to place graduates while dealing with often slow state licensing processes.  NHI representative and California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) Board Member Joe Bob Smith explained how this wasn’t a problem in California since [Read more →]

February 24, 2011   2 Comments

Getting Involved! Take Advantage of These Massage Therapy Opportunities: Professional Massage Associations, Continuing Massage Therapy Education, and Local Massage Events

Being a massage therapist can look like a solitary profession at first glance – one therapist, often her own boss, working with one client at a time.  But look again and you see vast networks linking therapist to therapist, creating the rich tapestry we call our profession.

Nathan Luczynski, Ahmos Netanel and Lynda Solien-Wolfe at the NHI Studio City Expert Panel

Nathan Luczynski, Ahmos Netanel and Lynda Solien-Wolfe at the NHI Studio City Expert Panel

What’s wrong with simply working alone?  Isn’t that what being your own boss means?  [Read more →]

January 19, 2011   No Comments

Melissa Wheeler Named AMTA Teacher of the Year: Article Featured in Massage Magazine

Massage Mag Logo

Wrapping up 2010 with a streak of good news, we are excited to share the success story of NHI’s long-time teacher and Training Coordinator, Melissa Wheeler. Melissa was just featured in Massage Magazine for being named the American Massage Therapy Association 2010 Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year.  In addition to congratulating Melissa for her dedication to massage therapy education, we would like to thank her for her continued support of all of the teachers, so many graduates and the current students at the National Holistic Institute.

wheeler “I will never forget walking into the doors of the National Holistic Institute and feeling the professional, fun buzz” says Melissa remembering her first experiences as a perspective NHI student . ”I knew instinctively that NHI was the place for me.  I loved every minute of my education at NHI and had so much respect for the teachers who gave their all to us students.  It is hard to believe that I became one of those teachers that people looked up to – truly, this award is as much for all the teachers and students from NHI as it is for me.  I did not get here alone.”

Here’s to Melissa and anybody else that thought they’d never make it to where they are today!  Individuals like her are making a positive change in the field of massage therapy, and we look forward to our graduates following her example. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy the coming holidays and that we all continue to support each other in everything that we do.

You can read more about Melissa’s achievement in Massage Magazine’s article here.

December 22, 2010   No Comments

Cynthia Ribeiro Voted President-Elect of AMTA!

We are pleased to announce that NHI‘s very own Cynthia Ribeiro has been voted President-Elect of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).


“I am very excited and honored to have been elected as President-Elect of AMTA! Thanks to everyone who participated in our election process, including everyone who voted and all of the candidates. It’s a very important commitment. I appreciate your kind wishes and hope to serve you well.”

Cynthia Ribeiro Headshot

As she moves ahead in this new role, we want to thank her for her dedication to the massage therapy industry. Her extensive [Read more →]

December 17, 2010   2 Comments

NHI Faculty Cynthia Ribeiro Running for AMTA President-Elect

National Holistic Institute Advanced Program Developer and Instructor Cynthia Ribeiro is currently running for President-Elect of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).  We encourage all NHI family, friends, and supporters who are AMTA professional members to vote for her.

Cynthia Ribeiro Headshot

In her candidate statement, Cynthia writes, “The immediate needs of AMTA, our growth and success, relate directly to the immediate needs of our members. It is important for us to help our members succeed by opening doors to a variety of opportunities as the economy, technology and profession change.”  She believes this can be done by looking “at different ways of supporting those needs through services such as social networking and internet-based business practices.”

Before joining NHI about a year ago, [

November 10, 2010   No Comments

Defining the Future of Massage

Two documents currently underway will alter the massage industry forever.  Does this change mean improvement?  Advantages and disadvantages will appear concurrently.  Personal perspective will determine the answer for you.  The two documents to which I refer are the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) and the Model Practice Act (MPA).


Work on the MTBOK began a couple of years ago by a consortium of industry voices.  These entities include the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF), the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).  The stated purpose of this document is “to develop and adopt across the massage therapy profession [Read more →]

October 12, 2010   No Comments

AMTA Names NHI Staffer Teacher of the Year

Melissa Wheeler addresses her peers at All-Staff Day.

Melissa Wheeler addresses her peers at All-Staff Day.

The American Massage Therapy Association has awarded the 2010 Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award to Melissa Wheeler, a longtime National Holistic Institute teacher and current teacher trainer.

To the many teachers, staff, and students Melissa has touched in her 19 years at NHI, no one deserves it more.  One of the highlights of this year’s NHI All-Staff Day was Melissa’s address to her peers and receiving of a scrapbook created by co-worker Sharlene Philip, containing numerous memories, congratulations, and accolades.  While Melissa remains as humble as always about this rare honor, here are words of praise from others:

“It has been my pleasure to work with Melissa, whose input always puts the teacher first [Read more →]

April 30, 2010   No Comments

2009 California AMTA Convention Enjoys NHI Volunteers

With the help of National Holistic Institute staff, students, and graduates alike, we were able to make a big contribution to the 2009 California Massage & Bodywork Convention sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association California chapter.  We provided a total of 27 volunteer massage therapists from all 4 Northern California NHI campuses, over both convention days.


Volunteers had the opportunity to network with other massage therapists, hand out business cards, receive tips, audit classes for free, and experience the exciting atmosphere of a CMTA event!  Our Student Life & Career Coordinator, Aviana Lynn, did a great job coordinating this effort.

March 27, 2009   No Comments