Continuing Education Archives - Florida School of Massage

Engaging Work

By Frank Merillat LMT

FSM Instructor

As I sit here writing this I am reminded of how lucky we are at FSM to have access to such wonderful continuing education opportunities at our school. Benny Vaughn, a leading figure in sports and athletic massage was just here at the end of October. Giorgia Milne will be here in November, another leading figure in the Biodynamic Craniosacral world. Deane Juhan, a noted figure in the Trager community and author of Job’s Body, a guide to anatomy, physiology and how touch affects the body will be here in January. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to study with these three in my educational process along with other noted names in our profession and find it is always worth my time, energy and finances to do so. There is something about working with folks who have been doing this work for so long and who themselves studied with the pioneers in bodywork.

Finding Acorns

By Frank Merillat, LMT


There is a saying I learned when I lived in the Virginia Mountains that goes like this:
“Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while”. 


I think this applies well to the practice of massage and the concept of therapy. I even use it these days in class when I talk about problems we encounter with the body while doing massage therapy.

When I work with a client they often present a problem with their body that they would like addressed. It is usually presented in the form of a sensation or feeling. Think of what clients tell you. “My shoulder hurts”, “I am not able to bend or squat easily”, “I’m feeling tingling or numbness in my hand”, “I’m just feeling stressed”, these are the types of things I often hear followed by “What is it?” or “Can you fix this?” It is at this point that I can feel like the proverbial “blind hog”. There are just so many possibilities involved in any one of those feeling statements.

The Only Way to Make Change in the World

“Nothing stops me. I keep working hard at what I do; it’s the only way to make change in the world”


Ariela Grodner did not plan to attend FSM. However, in 2002 Ariela convinced a good friend that she had to check out “this cool massage school” in Gainesville (with the ulterior motive of getting said friend to move to Florida). She did such a thorough job that Ariela “sold” the school to herself as well.

At the time, Ariela was a new mom looking to find herself again. From teaching Shivananda Yoga in India, to owning a punk rock store in Ybor City, to living on a farm in the Berkshire Mountains, she had always lived life on her terms. In her application, Ariela wrote of wanting to heal people and needing a livelihood that would increase her ability to grow in compassion and love for her fellow humanity.

How is ‘Oncology Massage’ Different from ‘Normal Massage?’

by Tracy Walton


She called me about getting massage for her brother. He was in treatment for advanced cancer, and he felt too sick to arrange massage for himself. “What is different about massage for people with cancer?” she asked me. And “How is it different from ‘normal’ massage?”

I hear this question often. It always deserves a thoughtful answer.

Beyond the Veil of Stillness

by Giorgia Milne


The ground substance of our connective tissues is the matrix within which life originates.  It is composed of a liquid substrate that bathes, and is within all cells, and provides the means for global, body-wide, communication. It behaves as a liquid crystal that communicates all quantum vibratory information throughout the whole body simultaneously at various speeds – light, sound, pressure, tension, wave, temperature, and so on.

After fertilization embryological forces inside the embryo’s protoplasmic ground substance ignite intentional whirls and eddies from which WE develop. Fourteen days after conception, a core of stillness emerges as the central organizing principle that will become known as “midline”. Bodily, this becomes the germ layers of ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm – leading to the formation of the heart, central nervous system, and the rest of the body’s organs and structures. However, midline actually defies description, because it is nonlinear and multidimensional.


After embryogenesis is complete, the midlines resonant signals convey the coherent instructions for the maintenance, defense, healing, immunity, and perceptual development of the bodymind.

Charles Ridley, author of STILLNESS – Biodynamic Cranial Practice and the Evolution of Consciousness.


Embryological forces continue to guide our growth, development, and overall health maintenance throughout our lives.  These subtle emotive forces behind the motions of life are indeed perceptible, and this is what we are connecting with in Biodynamic Cranial Touch.  By resting in stillness at the center of your being, you become resonant with the organizing principles of creation, and the source of our health and sense of wholeness.

Happy Renewal Year

By Frank Merrilat
I recently received an email, it began “Happy Renewal Year”. It was an inquiry about an upcoming workshop that I will be presenting in March and a nice play with words. I have to say that it got me thinking about the meaning of renewal.
The base of the word is “new”. To me that means something different, maybe unique. It could also mean seeing something a little bit differently, a new take on a familiar subject. The prefix “re” to me means doing something again. So the word renewal could have several interpretations, referring to examining what came before and beginning again.
We are now in a renewal year for our massage licenses. Continuing Education is an opportunity to learn new skills and grow your practice. Is there a modality or area of interest that turns you on? Maybe you want to get clear on anatomy or go deeper into a particular technique. Maybe you are interested in some self-work to help you in meeting clients in your practice. There are so many options available. I have several offerings available including Getting Specific one-day workshops on the neck, shoulder and low back as well as a two-day offering focusing on the breath. Check out the FSM website to see what will be offered at the school.

NEW! Sports Massage Advanced Training

Is sports massage something you are ready to dive into? Do you love working with athletes? Do you have clients with challenging soft tissue injuries and chronic pain that you want to help? Do you want to have new doors open to you?  Our Sports Massage Advanced Certification course may be for you!
Come join us for this 100-hour comprehensive training. Completing this certification will give you the confident edge as a competent Sports Massage Therapist. By participating in this course, you will take away the skills you need to obtain employment in any sports environment. 
Our unique approach includes:
  • Visits to state of the art sports medicine facilities
  • Lectures from top sports medicine professionals
  • Application of specific massage techniques for injuries and musculoskeletal dysfunctions

Elevate your practice to the next level! Our course will provide you with the skills necessary to differentiate you from other therapists.

Through our small group centered lectures with athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, and personal trainers, you will have a first hand knowledge of how to collaborate with other sports medicine practitioners in the groundbreaking sports medicine field.

Focus On Maternity Massage

by Leslie Stager

Leslie Stager

My friend has a busy sports massage practice. She works with pregnant and non-pregnant clients often doing deep tissue work in hip adductors, hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. One day we were discussing pregnancy massage adaptations — sidelying and semi-reclining positions, altered body mechanics, and relevant bodywork precautions.

“What precautions?” she asked.

I mentioned the 5x increased risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy, and greater risk for six weeks after birth. I stated that massage therapists should do thorough intakes and adjust their bodywork for those with specific risk factors, such as recent airplane travel, obesity, a history of previous clots, carrying twins or more, being over 35 years old, or recent cesarean section. Seventy-five percent of pregnant and postnatal women who develop clots have one or more of these risk factors.

Who Will Teach Us To Give Birth To Our Souls?

by Mary Reis

“Who will teach us to give birth to our souls,

to be life-giving creative centers of energy

instead of death-dealing centers of inertia?”

—Camille Campbell in Meditations with Theresa of Avila 


mary reis staff photo

I came across this quote at the beginning of “Stillness: Biodynamic Cranial Touch and the Evolution of Consciousness” by Charles Ridley. Having recently finished the Biodynamic Cranial Touch Mentor Course, I was reflecting back on the long journey of my BCT training and picked up this book, which is the required reading. Reading this quote I was transported back to the beginning of my journey into bodywork and the rebirth of my own soul.  

Attract Grateful Clients Who Do Your Marketing For You

by Karen Ball, LMT

KarenI don’t know about you, but I don’t recall learning a lot about what causes debilitating foot pain when I first studied reflexology or massage therapy. I was forced to learn though as more and more people came to me with their painful conditions – often as a last ditch effort.

Initially, my approach was simply reflexology – very targeted reflexology sessions. Sometimes that worked beautifully, but sometimes it didn’t; and that left me more than a little frustrated and disappointed in myself.

As fate would have it, I developed plantar fasciosis (often referred to as plantar fasciitis). My compassion for those who had sought out my help soared, and my motivation to figure it out leapt into the stratosphere. I was so not willing to accept the prognosis of a one-year recovery time!

I dug around, studied more, talked to a lot of other people, and eventually developed an approach that worked – for me, at least. It took me three months to recover, not 12.

The Challenge
The real test came though, when a well-known massage therapist in town called and asked for my help with one of her clients who had been diagnosed two years earlier with plantar fasciosis (PF). This woman’s experience with PF was way beyond what I had undergone. I “experienced” plantar fasciosis; she was “enduring” it.

Failed Attempts
I asked a few questions and was told that this woman:

• religiously followed a stretching routine given to her by a physical therapist.
• tried heel lifts and custom-made orthotics.
• had consulted with and received regular treatments from a podiatrist.
• wore “sensible” shoes; in fact, she had gone so far as to have very expensive custom-made shoes created just for her feet.
• had received more than one corticosteroid injection in her heel.
• tried Ultrasound therapy on her heel.
• had received Prolotherapy treatments on her heel.
• underwent ESWT (Extracorporeal shockwave therapy) treatments on her foot.
• and finally had a Plantar Fasciotomy (the last resort – a surgical approach that “clips” the fascia).

Oh, yeah, and she was not overweight, nor was she sedentary, nor did she work at a job that required her to stand on her feet all day!

Yikes! This woman had done everything that the allopathic community prescribes. She reported that her pain was not as excruciating as it initially was, but was noticeably still there.

Frankly, I felt less than confident that my approach would make a difference – but I agreed to see her anyway.

The Approach
I started by asking this woman to show me the stretches she was doing. All were the same that I had performed daily, with the exception of one other that she was not doing.

So, I taught her that one stretch and then proceeded to give the hands-on session that I had developed – which I teach attendees in the How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshop.

The session begins with a focused, targeted foot reflexology session, followed by assisted passive and active leg and foot movements to clear nerve compression, erase muscle memory and re-educate the muscles to a balanced state. The release of nerve impingement along the S1 nerve root combined with a solid foot reflexology protocol and adherence to an individualized homework plan is what I found creates a successful treatment for stubborn plantar fasciosis cases.

At the end of that initial session, the woman went home with the invitation to call me the next day to let me know how her feet felt upon rising the next morning. I was probably more anxious than eager to hear from her!

She waited until the late afternoon to call, because as she explained, “I thought the results were too good to be true, and didn’t want to jinx anything by stating out loud how I felt.”

Turns out she slept through the night for the first time since having been diagnosed with PF! First night in two years not being awakened by foot pain! She said that the pain was not completely gone, but it was minimal; and for the first time in this lengthy journey of recovery she felt hopeful for a full recovery. Yay!

She returned the next day. We repeated the session and she set off the following week for a planned walking tour in Europe with her family, accompanied by a new stretching homework routine to prevent re-occurrence. I never saw this woman again.

Buoyed by the success with this client, I added in some additional protocols and techniques, learned how to really target my reflexology work and most importantly, how to identify better choices my clients could make pertaining to their own foot health.

Through trial and error and formal study, I have discovered that much of the suffering that people experience in not only their feet, but the knees, hips and low back, results from a number of irregularities within the lower extremity that can be influenced with the protocol that I practice.

Standing Out In The Crowd
Over time I became known in my community for being able to help people with chronic foot pain, especially peripheral neuropathy and plantar fasciosis (both of which are addressed by the same hands-on protocol).

What I do now with clients suffering from chronic foot pain is very different than what I once offered – and that is what I share in the How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshop, a two-day event that looks at how bodyworkers can impact 20 problematic foot complaints that people present with.

I hope you will join me on November 19 and 20 at FSM, for my last workshop of the year. Invest in your business, save yourself years of research, trial and error and create a reputation in your community as the “go-to” person for foot pain.

This training is designed for certified reflexologists and massage therapists who have had at least a basic 2-day training in reflexology and have been utilizing it in their practice. I will not be teaching basic reflexology skills in this workshop.

If you qualify, then I invite you to register now.  There are thousands of people out there that need our help!