Recall any pictures or images you’ve seen of Indian ascetics lying on a bed of nails without any signs of pain or discomfort? Of course, these are stereotypes created to describe eastern or Oriental cultures and people, typically from India, China or other country in the Asian continent, but that does not mean that these images have no basis in fact.
The classic pose of an ascetic lying comfortably on a bed of nails is in fact, a reference to an Asian practice for healing – acupuncture – where needles are inserted in select points in the body to relieve pain or stress in another part of the body. Acupressure differs slightly from acupuncture, in that fingers are used instead of needles, which must definitely be a relief to most people! Acupressure first originated in China and is today one of several popular and effective alternative methods of healing, preferred over conventional medicine by a lot of people within the US. This article explores information on how you can become an acupressurist.
Acupuncture and acupressure are disciplines which can be easily learned over a period of time and can be self-administered as well. Acupressure is commonly applied during massage therapy sessions, as a solo technique or in combination with other massage methods such as shiatsu or reflexology, etc.
The basic principles which guide acupressure therapy are as follows:
- Good health and wellbeing are not based on physical factors alone; the patient’s mental and emotional state also plays an important part and any treatment must consider the mind, body or soul together, in order to be effective.
- To be healthy and free of pain and/or stress, Chinese medicine lays emphasis on the concepts of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, which need to be present in the body in equal measures, and ‘chi’ which is the life-force which runs throughout the universe and within human beings as well.
- The human body has twelve channels called ‘meridians’ through which ‘chi’ flows to the twelve main organs of the body. Acupressure treatment focuses on these ‘meridians’ along which specific pressure points are identified. Pressure applied on these points helps to unblock the meridians and allow ‘chi’ to flow through the entire body.
Becoming an acupressurist
You can train to become an acupressurist by two methods: (a) train as a specialist in acupressure along with general Chinese medicine; or (b) train and become certified as a ‘masseur’ or ‘massage therapist’, where acupressure is one of the techniques included in the curriculum.
The basic process in becoming an acupressurist involves the following:
- Find an accredited school which offers courses in acupressure/Chinese medicine and/or massage therapy.
- Successfully complete the course and prescribed examinations.
- Apply for a certificate/license to practice as an acupressurist. Minimum certification requirements include passing the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, followed by fulfilling state-specific licensing requirements and periodic re-certification as prescribed.
The following organizations provide training and/or certification in acupressure therapy:
- American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)
- National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).
- The Acupressure Institute.
- The American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association (AOBTA)
- Jin Shin Do Foundation for Body/Mind Acupressure – international organization for acupressure therapists
Explore the resources and information provided in this article to become an acupressurist.