By Chris Cunningham
Toting a satchel filled with linens and oils, and carrying a portable table and chair, Tonia Johnson, an alumna of the massage therapy program at Lane Community College, travels to clients' homes
and office suites, and to social events, to provide therapeutic massage.
"With some clients, I meet with their physical therapists to coordinate a treatment plan" that includes regular massage sessions for rehabilitation, Johnson says. Other times, she's kneading away elderly clients' tightness and pain, or simply massaging tension from bodies that need to unwind.
Johnson, 33, owner of Divine Body & Mind Massage Therapy in Springfield, says she waited until her daughters were older before enrolling in Lane's massage therapy classes in 2007. Even then, she took just "one or two classes at a time."
Besides maintaining a fine balance between studying, raising a family, and working part-time in a chiropractor's office, Tonia also copes with dyslexia, a life-long learning disorder that makes it difficult to read, write or spell.
"Although I really wanted to try and do as much as I could by myself," Johnson says, she knew she would need help tackling the 629 hours of course requirements in anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology, and massage theory and practice, a curriculum that's been approved by the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists and the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development.
On campus, "teachers and teacher aides sometimes would help by reading the content of a quiz if I could not understand," she explains. Every week, she poured over lecture notes with study partners, and nightly, memorized audio recordings of textbook material that her husband produced. When it came time to study for the massage therapy licensure exam, she attended the college's Practical Exam Preparation Seminar.
"I am grateful for all the help I received," she says, naming more than a dozen LCC instructors and classroom aides who offered support.
In April 2012, Johnson earned both her Certification of Completion in massage therapy and her license to practice, hardly a small feat by anyone's standards.
"These classes taught me not just about massage and the human body, but how to learn and grow," she says.
For more information about Lane's Massage Therapy program, visit the web at lanecc.edu/ce/massage/
Published by Continuing Education September 2013