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Frequently Asked Questions

GCMT represents the professional associations (PA's) rather than individual therapists; please see the PowerPoints on the home page. PAs represent the individual therapist's needs more specifically, GCMT has more of an overview of the industry.

We suggest you research the council representatives and see which suits your therapy best.

Below are the details of the PA’s that represent each modality. We suggest you investigate each one to research which best fits your requirements.

All complementary therapies - Complementary Health Professionals (CHP)
- Scottish Massage Therapists Organisation
- Complementary Therapy Association (
- Massage Training Institute (
- National Association of Massage & Manipulative Therapists (
Sports massage - Sports Massage Association (SMA)
- Sports Therapy Organisation (
- Complementary Health Professionals (
- Complementary Therapy Association (
Sports therapy - Sports Therapy Organisation (STO)
Sports rehabilitation - British Association of Sports Rehabilitators and
Trainers (
BASRaT) - degree level qualifications
- Sports Therapy Organisation (
Specialist PA's
Amatsu soft tissue therapy - Amatsu Therapy International (UK)
Biodynamic massage - Association of Biodynamic Massage Therapists (ABMT)
Remedial & manipulative therapy - London & Counties Society of Physiologists (LCSP)
- National Association of Massage & Manipulative Therapists (

Scope of practice is the limit of a therapist's knowledge, skills and experience, and is made up of the activities included in their training. Therapists must keep within scope of practice by only practising in the areas they have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience of. A therapist must refer to another practitioner if the care, treatment or other services the client needs are beyond their scope of practice.  Failure to do so, invalidates their insurance.

The GCMT has developed a Code of Practice, Ethics and Proficiency for the membership Professional Associations which they and their membership must abide by. They include, amongst other things, rules for good practice regarding; professional conduct, the practice environment, records and Data Protection, marketing, and informed consent.  The GCMT will also investigate any complaints made about a member PA should an issue arise that the PA fails to address satisfactorily for a therapist or member of the public.

It's important to consider what you want to gain from doing the continued professional development.  

Do you want to be able to practise the new skill within your treatments, or is it fine tuning or mastery of skills you already have?  If you plan to practise something new, make sure the course is assessed, i.e. at the end of the learning you are assessed for competency both of your knowledge of the subject and your practical skills.  Make sure the qualification will allow you to gain insurance to practise once completed.

Otherwise, some CPD courses just provide an attendance certificate, meaning you have observed demonstrations, may have been taught theory, perhaps practised the skill but you have not been assessed as competent and so in this case, you may not be covered by your insurance.

It is suggested you contact the professional association which closest represents your interests, and they will advise you of reputable courses.

Considerations when choosing a course:

  • • Is the qualification and the awarding organisation that developed the course regulated by OFQUAL?
  • • How much face-to-face teaching is there, after all, massage is a practical skill which cannot be learned online. We would anticipate at least 50% of the hours are face-to-face.
  • • Is the course taught over a reasonable period of time which allows for you to gain experience, practise your skills and consolidate your learning? We would suggest, a minimum of 12 weeks, which does not include an extended time period until the practical exam.
  • • Can you gain insurance based upon the course on offer?
  • • Is the course you are considering recognised and accepted by the professional association you would like to join upon graduation?

  • Many professional associations have student membership which may bring benefits whilst you are training.

GCMT defines massage therapies as the systematic manipulation of soft tissue, (this includes, muscles, fascia, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments) as well as some adjustment to hard tissue such as bone and joint specific anatomical structures.

Most massage treatments are based on Swedish massage techniques, termed; effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibrations and compressions. A basic body massage will comprise these techniques and may also include some stretching in the treatment.

The techniques can be applied at different speeds and depths of pressure to make the outcome more relaxing/stimulating, or to treat injured tissue. Sometimes a therapist will use essential oils, which is known as an aromatherapy massage or perhaps hot stones can be included.

A sports massage therapist uses the techniques mentioned in the basic massage techniques in the previous FAQ and will often work with athletes (but not exclusively). They will carry out assessment of injuries and will also include more complex muscle energy methods, trigger points or specialist stretching movements.

A sports therapist or rehabilitator carries out a similar treatment to a sports massage therapist but has further skills following treatment to offer rehabilitation exercises and they will perhaps use other modalities such as taping, heat, ice, and electrical equipment to further enhance the treatment.

Sports Event Massage uses a specific massage to prepare or recover an athlete before, between or following their sport.It can also involve "Pitch-side" which might include; First Aid skills, taping & strapping, or the use of heat & ice.

Remedial & Sports Massage manipulation of the body's deep tissue to reduce muscle tension, increase muscle flexibility, and generally improve recovery.

Advanced Remedial Massage involves more specific techniques and examination procedures used with Swedish, Remedial and Sports massage to treat lesions of joints e.g. frozen shoulder.

On-Site Chair Massage using a specially designed chair to support the fully clothed client.  Relaxation first, then re-energised by working over acupressure points on the back, neck, shoulders, head, arms and hands.

Indian Head Massage a traditional method of easing tightness in the scalp and upper body, in a non-intrusive manner.

Swedish Massage the gentle manipulation of the body’s soft tissues, to stimulate circulation and relieve muscle spasm. Swedish massage consists of various movements which form the basis for all massage work. 

Aromatherapy the use of essential oils, which work with the body's natural processes, to create spiritual, emotional, mental and/or physical effects. Sometimes a therapist will have had extensive aromatherapy training and be able to use essential oils in a massage that are blended specifically for the individual’s needs. Sometimes a massage therapist will use pre-blended essential oil blends for general relaxation or use them alongside postgraduate training in hot stone or Indian Head Massage.

Reflexology relieving pain and improving pathological symptoms by stimulating predefined reflex points on the feet and hands

Amatsu soft tissue therapy uses various assessment tools to understand the whole body effect that a linear pattern has created.  Using a soft gentle approach utilising natural movement to create tiny changes within the structure of the body (soft tissue, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia), the lesion pattern is gently removed.   

Biodynamic Massage Biodynamic massage is a psychotherapeutic form of massage concerned with the integration of all aspects of an individual - physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual within the context of an individual's life and relationships at home, at work and at leisure

Some schools require you to have a uniform and perhaps you will need your own towels, possibly a massage couch, and massage products. There may be books to buy to supplement the course material.

It may be useful to join a professional association as a student member which could include insurance whilst you are training, if not you may need to get student insurance to practise your skills, (some schools include insurance as part of the package).

Also consider the travel costs and perhaps accommodation if required.

Currently there is no reciprocal recognition of massage qualifications between countries and this recognition is unlikely in the foreseeable future. The reasons include significant variation in training standards between individual countries and perhaps lack of a national standard, e.g, in the USA where each state sets its own standard.

It is suggested you identify the professional association most closely aligned to your qualification by looking at the council members and then contact them for advice about joining.

To get an idea of your qualification level, you could make an application to the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) for comparison of a qualification and advice on a close equivalent UK qualification. NARIC only compare national qualifications so, as referred to in the above example, they do not compare USA state qualifications against UK qualifications.

Consent to treatment means the client must give permission before they receive any type of treatment, assessment or change from the original agreement. Before the client can give permission, the therapist must explain what they are about to do, i.e., what the treatment involves, which clothes need to be removed, where the client might be touched, if there are any adverse effects to the intervention etc. If the client is happy to proceed, permission is granted. The evidence of gaining informed consent can be written; the client signs and dates a statement listing what they agree to, or verbal. This might be necessary during the treatment and the client can give written consent afterwards.

For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed, and the persons consenting must have the capacity to make the decision. The meaning of these terms is:

  • Voluntary - the decision to either consent or not to treatment must be made by the person, and must not be influenced by pressure from others, i.e., the practitioner, family, or friends.
  • Informed - as above, the person must be given all of the information about what the treatment involved, including the benefits and risks, whether there are alternative treatments and possible consequences.
  • Capacity - the person must be capable of giving consent, which means they understand the information given to them and can use it to make their choice.

If an adult has the capacity to make a voluntary and informed decision, then the decision must be respected. Children under 16 may require an adult to make that choice on their behalf but this isn't always the case if the minor can make the decision for themselves if they have a clear understanding of the situation.

If you would like further detail regarding legislation about informed consent please see the government document "Reference guide to consent for examination or treatment".



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