Children are Not Just Small Adults

December 17, 2022

Massage Therapists graduate from their core educational program with various experiences, from understanding the difference between multiple techniques to completing an intake form for an adult client. However, it is rare, if ever discussed, how to adapt massage and touch therapy to be specific to the needs of a pediatric client or patient.

Many massage schools answer their student’s questions about pediatric massage very simply with, “Ask their parents” and “Just use less pressure.”

While some therapists may believe their educator has just provided the best response to their question, they should evaluate what they need to know to work with pediatric clients safely.

When working with children, there are many specific healthcare-related considerations. You might consider focusing on a particular population, typically developing clients, children with autism, or hospitalized patients, as an example. Additional education in pediatric massage therapy is paramount in setting a professional foundation to practice with this population.

Something that might be easy for practitioners to forget is that children are very different from adult clients and have specific, unique physical, emotional, and developmental needs. Pediatric massage is designed to meet these individual considerations. It is easy to see that children are growing rapidly, and you must consider a specific approach to protect their skin, soft tissues, and bones.

With appropriate background, a Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist (CPMT®) can be a tremendous asset to the child and their family and even in the confines of the medical system. Numerous pediatric massage therapists collaborate with pediatric hospitals and medical institutions by performing in-patient and outpatient care, participating in research studies, and educating families on how to use pediatric touch therapy with their children.

However, pediatric massage is not only practiced in hospitals or healthcare settings. Many CPMT®s find that they develop a thriving private practice as touch therapy benefits children who are typically developing, have anxiety, sleeping difficulties, or might even be little athletes.

As in all specialties practiced in massage therapy, advanced training matters, and you should choose your education pathway wisely. These are some factors to consider when making your decision.

Do your research to ensure you choose the best direction to give you professional certification and education that will help you add pediatric massage to your practice.

Contacting the instructor and asking questions about their background, education, and courses is perfectly acceptable.

First, consider the presenter of the courses.

  • What is their background?
  • How much experience do they have?
  • How long have they been practicing and teaching this modality/specialty?
  • Are they published in respected industry magazines and journals?
  • Do they use current literature and research as part of the presented curriculum and course materials?

You may also want to ask colleagues and others in the field about their background and course of educational training.

  • How did they get into the field of pediatric massage therapy?
  • What route did they take to achieve their goals?
  • How did they decide to specialize in this area or add pediatric massage to their practice?

A properly educated pediatric massage therapist should ask permission appropriately from the pediatric massage client, their parents/guardians, and the healthcare team as necessary. Their sessions should include adjusting the pace, pressure, and client positioning required to provide safe and effective treatment for a pediatric client. Pediatric massage therapists have completed comprehensive training in massage therapy and specialized training that addresses developmental considerations, contraindications, and precautions specific to working with children.

Interested in pediatric massage therapy, do your research, become trained appropriately, and learn how you can change a child’s life through the power of touch!