Experienced Practitioners’ Beliefs Utilized to Create a Successful Massage Therapist Conceptual Model: a Qualitative Investigation

Keywords: massage therapy profession, Super’s theory, career development, career longevity, analytic induction


Background: The massage therapy profession in the United States has grown exponentially, with 35% of the profession’s practitioners in practice for three years or less. Investigating personal and social factors with regard to the massage therapy profession could help to identify constructs needed to be successful in the field.

Purpose: This data-gathering exercise explores massage therapists’ perceptions on what makes a successful massage therapist that will provide guidance for future research. Success is defined as supporting oneself and practice solely through massage therapy and related, revenue-generating field activity.

Participants and Setting: Ten successful massage therapy practitioners from around the United States who have a minimum of five years of experience.

Research Design: Semistructured qualitative interviews were used in an analytic induction framework; index cards with preidentified concepts printed on them were utilized to enhance conversation. An iterative process of interview coding and analysis was used to determine themes and subthemes.

Results: Based on the participants input, the categories in which therapists needed to be successful were organized into four main themes: effectively establish therapeutic relationships, develop massage therapy business acumen, seek valuable learning environments and opportunities, and cultivate strong social ties and networks. The four themes operate within specific contexts (e.g., regulation and licensing requirements in the therapists’ state), which may also influence the success of the massage therapist.

Conclusions: The model needs to be tested to explore which constructs explain variability in success and attrition rate. Limitations and future research implications are discussed.

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How to Cite
Kennedy, LMT, BCTMB, DrPH, A. B., & Munk, LMT, PhD, N. (2017). Experienced Practitioners’ Beliefs Utilized to Create a Successful Massage Therapist Conceptual Model: a Qualitative Investigation. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork Research Education &Amp; Practice, 10(2), 9–19. https://doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v10i2.367