ICT Northum­ber­land Col­lege

How Marie Chris­tian­son knew mas­sage ther­apy was right for her

The Coast - Career Minded - - NEWS -

When Marie Chris­tian­son was still in high school, ICT Northum­ber­land Col­lege had come to speak to her school about its mas­sage ther­apy pro­gram. Although she ended up pur­su­ing an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in small busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship at Saint Mary’s Univer­sity right af­ter high school, she never stopped think­ing about mas­sage ther­apy and the op­tion of this ca­reer. ICT kept in touch through­out her busi­ness de­gree, and soon enough it was clear to Chris­tian­son what she was meant to be do­ing with her life.

“It was an easy de­ci­sion when I en­rolled at ICT,” say Chris­tian­son. “They were very clear in what the pro­gram of­fered, be­tween clin­i­cal prac­tice and de­vel­op­ing prac­ti­cal skills. The staff was ex­tremely sup­port­ive in telling me how I could suc­ceed in the pro­gram and what they could of­fer me.” She had al­ways wanted to pro­mote health in her com­mu­nity, and she fi­nally knew what that would look like.

By us­ing case stud­ies from the work­ing world, the pro­gram at ICT pro­vided back­ground knowl­edge on spe­cific con­di­tions that the stu­dents would face through­out their ca­reers. The in­struc­tors are ther­a­pists who have prac­ti­cal knowl­edge on how to rec­og­nize symp­toms and con­di­tions, how to ap­ply the teach­ings and the red flags to rec­og­nize.

There are con­di­tions and dis­eases that Chris­tian­son was made more aware of in her patho­phys­i­ol­ogy class, and then how to treat those con­di­tions in her clin­i­cal as­sess­ment and treat­ment skills class. Her in­struc­tors were clear about when to re­fer the pa­tients to doc­tors and when they could be treated with mas­sage.

“There are cer­tain cases where I wouldn’t have thought to treat a pa­tient with mas­sage ther­apy, like con­sti­pa­tion,” Chris­tian­son says. “I learned all the dif­fer­ent ways that you can help peo­ple, and it’s in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing.”

The cour­ses are very spe­cific to the needs of mas­sage ther­a­pists through anatomy, con­di­tion as­sess­ments, mas­sage tech­niques and bi­ol­ogy. Chris­tian­son felt that the mul­ti­ple sclero­sis clinic run by the school made the big­gest dif­fer­ence for her. Every Mon­day a group of clients with MS would come into the stu­dent clinic for a dis­counted price, and the stu­dents were able to prac­tice treat­ing them. “It has made me com­fort­able now in my day-to-day work in how to treat pa­tients with MS. I still treat them every day, and I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been com­fort­able with­out the clin­i­cal,” Chris­tian­son says.

Chris­tian­son says the pro­gram at ICT is an in­tense two years, and though it is short in time, it can feel much longer – in a great way. “There are long days of be­ing in class and then clinic, and you’re study­ing a lot on the side. I worked hard and it wasn’t easy, but you get ev­ery­thing you put into it,” she says.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, Chris­tian­son ac­cepted a job at Brick­yard Health where she con­tin­ues to work to­day and ap­plies all of the knowl­edge she learned at ICT. “I tried to pull all of the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion out of the in­struc­tors that I could. They are so ex­pe­ri­enced and knowl­edge­able that it would have been a shame not to ab­sorb as much as I could. Their in­for­ma­tion is so valuable,” she adds.

Chris­tian­son loves that she has had the chance to pur­sue this pas­sion and has even de­cided to go back to school and is cur­rently in her sec­ond year of os­teopa­thy. This is a per­fect skill to add to her al­ready im­pres­sive back­ground, and she is ex­cited about be­ing able to bring this to her prac­tice and to her clients.

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