May 21, 2024

Zenith Tranquil

Information treatments and health conditions

Pediatric Massage Therapy

7 min read
An image of a child in a hospital bed, holding up two fingers in the "V" sign for victory, is used to illustrate the concept of giving kids a voice in their health care choices.

Parents are always looking for the best ways to care for their children, and that includes seeking out noninvasive therapies that can help promote their little ones’ physical and emotional well-being. One such therapy that’s rapidly gaining in popularity is pediatric massage therapy.

Pediatric massage therapy is an approach that can empower children and promote their autonomy while also providing them with a sense of relaxation and calm.

In particular, many parents are turning to private practice settings for pediatric massage therapy. With this approach, children can benefit from one-on-one attention and a more personalized experience, as the pediatric massage therapist takes the time to understand their unique needs and concerns.

This tailored approach can be especially helpful for children with sensory sensitivities, difficulty with transitions, or anxiety, as a private practice setting can provide a calming environment for their massage therapy sessions.

Overall, the trend toward private pediatric massage therapy practices is driven by a growing recognition of the many benefits this innovative therapy can offer to children. As a massage therapist looking to establish a successful private practice, exploring the world of pediatric massage therapy can be an exciting and rewarding journey.

Pediatric Massage Therapy Gives Children a Voice in their Health Care

Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists (CPMT®) work to build trust with children and make them feel comfortable. They use developmentally appropriate language and allow the child to participate in the process, such as choosing the oils used in the massage or selecting music to play during the session.

Additionally, children are welcome to express their feelings and experiences, free from judgment or criticism, helping them develop a sense of self-awareness and increase their emotional intelligence.

Having the opportunity to communicate their needs easily helps children feel more comfortable and confident. Moreover, children are empowered to make decisions about their health care and massage therapy, such as choosing the pressure of the massage and deciding when to stop the session. When children feel more in control, it increases their autonomy.

Pediatric massage therapy can also help children develop an understanding of self-care and body awareness. Increased awareness stays with them for their lifetime and enables the child to recognize when they may need to seek health care interventions or practice self-care.

Steps for Setting Up a Private Practice for Pediatric Massage Therapy

To establish a successful private practice for pediatric massage therapy, certain steps must be taken. First, it’s crucial to obtain the necessary certifications and licenses to practice massage therapy. Requirements will vary depending on your geographic location, but it typically involves obtaining a massage therapy license and completing any required continuing education courses.

It’s essential to have specialized training and experience in this field when setting up a private practice focused on pediatric massage therapy. Consider taking additional courses and workshops to build your knowledge and skills, and seek continuing education opportunities to stay current with the latest advancements in pediatric massage therapy.

Having the ability to add the credentials of CPMT next to your name gives parents, and referring health care professionals, confidence in your knowledge and educational background.

Building a network of referrals is necessary for growing a successful private practice. Consider reaching out to local pediatricians, chiropractors, and other pediatric health care providers to establish relationships and build referral networks. You may also wish to contact local parenting organizations to educate them about your services and the benefits of pediatric massage therapy.

When setting up your private practice, it’s essential to create a welcoming and child-friendly environment. Consider decorating your therapeutic space with fun colors, toys, and child-sized furniture to make it more appealing to children. Ensure you have the ability to adjust lighting, sounds, and temperature to best support children with various sensory needs.

When starting a private practice for pediatric massage therapy, having a clear mission and philosophy will help guide your therapeutic decisions.

 Consider writing a mission statement that outlines your approach to treatment, your goals for your pediatric clients, and the values that guide your practice.

Establishing clear policies and procedures is imperative.

Consider developing policies for scheduling appointments, payment and billing, and client privacy, as well as methods for documenting client treatments and maintaining client records. Ensure parents are aware of your policies and will adhere to the guidelines established, including staying with their children during appointments and understanding that their child may refuse massage therapy or stop a session at any time.

Revise Your Intake Form

One consideration often overlooked is the necessity of a pediatric-specific health history or intake form. It’s crucial to request the information needed to make an informed treatment plan. Here are a few tips for revising health intake forms for pediatric clients:

Simplify language: Children may have a limited understanding of medical terminology, simplify the language used in your intake forms. Consider using clear, concise language that is easy for children and their parents to understand. Remember, the child should be able to participate in as much of this process as they feel comfortable doing.

Focus on specific pediatric concerns: Children have unique health concerns, so it’s essential to focus on these in your health intake forms. Consider adding questions about conditions such as ADHD, autism, and sensory processing disorder, as well as any physical or emotional challenges that may impact their massage therapy treatment.

Update your request for personal details: Children have unique personalities and identities that must be respected at all times. Ask for their pronouns, along with any “nicknames” they may prefer. Many people have specific pronouns that identify them and should be used and respected.

Additionally, some children do not like to be called their legal name. Ask what name they prefer during the session, and always be aware this may change anytime. Your flexibility in recognizing and honoring the person they are is of the utmost importance to establish respect and develop rapport.

Ask information about the child’s caregiver: When working with pediatric clients, we require information about their caregiver, such as their name, relationship to the child, and contact details to help you keep them informed about their child’s treatment.

Request feedback from parents: Before implementing any permanent changes to your health history intake forms, consider asking for input from parents and caregivers whom you know personally or professionally. Having this feedback from your intended audience will help ensure that your documents are comprehensive, user-friendly, and tailored to the specific needs of your pediatric clients.

Parents or Guardians Must Be Present

When it comes to pediatric massage therapy, it is necessary to keep the parents or guardians of the child in the room during the massage for several reasons. First, the presence of a parent or guardian provides an extra layer of security for the child and can be especially beneficial for younger children who may not have a strong sense of personal boundaries.

Furthermore, children can feel more secure and relaxed when their parent or guardian is nearby, helping the child feel more comfortable during the massage and more likely to fully relax and benefit from the therapy.

Parents or guardians can provide important information to the massage therapist, such as the child’s medical history and any areas of concern. The massage therapist can also communicate with the parent or guardian about the child’s progress and any changes to their treatment plan.

Allowing the parent or guardian to be present during the massage can create a bonding experience for the child and the caregiver, strengthening their relationship. The parent can also observe and learn to provide additional support and care for the child at home. Often when parents understand how massage therapy benefits their children, it can encourage them to continue with ongoing treatment.

Establish a Private Pediatric Massage Practice

As a pediatric massage therapist, you have several options for establishing your private practice. One option is to create a home-based private practice, where you see clients in a dedicated massage room in your home. There can be advantages when you have a convenient dedicated therapy space. However, please consider the privacy and safety concerns of clients coming to your home.

Another option is to rent office space for your private practice. Many therapists consider this a good choice if you need more space for your massage table, physio balls, tactile toys and sensory items. Research office spaces available in your area and choose one that meets your needs and budget.

You could also consider establishing a joint venture with another therapist specializing in another complementary pediatric therapy, such as physical or occupational therapy. With this multi-disciplinary practice option, a pediatric massage therapist has opportunities to collaborate with others and provide clients with a broader range of services.

Co-working spaces have become increasingly popular in recent years, and many of these spaces offer private rooms that can be utilized for therapy sessions. Some therapists prefer this cost-effective option when they don’t require a full-time office and want to take advantage of the shared amenities.

No matter which option you choose, research and consider factors such as cost, accessibility, privacy and safety when establishing your private pediatric massage therapy practice.

Support Children’s Growth

Pediatric massage therapists can make a monumental difference in the lives of children and their families, while supporting a child’s optimal growth and development.

With a thorough plan and specialized training you can establish a successful private practice that caters to the unique needs of the youngest clients, providing high-quality, personalized health care that all children deserve.

Tina Allen

About the Author

Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT, is the founder and director of the Liddle Kidz Foundation ( Allen began her journey in the field of pediatric touch therapy over 20 years ago. More than 100 medical institutions worldwide have chosen the Liddle Kidz framework to shape and develop strategies for their pediatric touch therapy initiatives.


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