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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

A Therapeutic Experience: Potomac Massage Training Institute

Nov 26, 2013 02:40AM
Why would one choose to become a massage therapist? To promote health? To inspire well-being? For a rewarding work environment? How about to make someone feel better, which makes you feel better? Executive Director of Potomac Massage Training Institute (PMTI), Tam Gelman, LMT, NCTMB says massage practitioners benefit in all of these ways and more. “There is nothing more rewarding than watching someone come in, in pain, and being able to alleviate their pain and painful frame of mind,” Gelman says.                            

PMTI is a non-profit organization, established in 1976, to provide career training in the art and science of massage therapy. Gelman made the transition to a career in massage from years in commercial mortgage banking and brokerage. For over 12 years, she championed entrepreneurship, running a high-volume diversified mortgage banking and brokerage company. Gelman expresses, “I was working so hard. A friend thought that Reiki would be a great self-healing process and suggested I try.” She started out using Reiki on herself when she was tired and traveling and eventually became a Reiki practitioner. When her interest was piqued in massage, she chose PMTI because their program offered a body-mind-spirit experience, not just technical skills.

“I believe that we are a school that is striving diligently, and have in the last decade, to maintain a real sense of traditional values in a market that has turned into a fast food environment i.e. six to nine month training programs,” says Gelman. During their 18 month program, the school places emphasis on helping students become massage therapists rather than just “doing” massage. PMTI has cultivated a successful reputation by maintaining a philosophy of education, emphasizing professionalism and integrating mind, body and spirit. Among their core values are abundance, community, creativity, effectiveness, integrity, proactiveness and purpose. “One of the really beautiful things about our school is the fact that we teach really good boundaries and ethics. We’re very active listeners and great at body dynamics. We don’t take on a lot of junk from our clients,” says Gelman. The school’s professional training program teaches a client centered approach to massage therapy. Students learn how to tailor each session to the client’s needs, rather than providing a generic service to everyone.

The principles of proper body dynamics and additional self-care techniques are of high priority for PMTI. Gelman states, “The average life of a massage practitioner is about eight years. A lot of the people from our program have been practicing for 20 years. We enjoy a long-term practice and avoid injury by using good body dynamics.” The program also teaches the major systems of the body and how they interact, including how to identify and work with the musculoskeletal system. In addition to learning how to perform Swedish and deep-tissue massage, emphasis is placed on developing active listening skills to encourage a supportive environment for clients.

There is important work to be done in the realm of massage therapy, and PMTI has actively participated in the progression of massage through research and study abroad opportunities. Most recently, the school took a group of students to Cusco, Peru. There, they worked on indigenous shaman and others who would otherwise not have access to massage therapy. Remaining steadfast in providing health alternatives to underserved communities, PMTI participates in a round table with GW and Bread for the City. The students have the opportunity to sit with doctors at GW, and discuss ongoing treatment programs for the clients of Bread for the City participating in this unique program. Gelman states that here, “The students get a sense of how to provide true holistic care.”

PMTI features a massage clinic, open to the public by appointment only. This allows students to develop their skills as clinic practitioners. A wide variety of workshops are also offered for those that would like to take an introductory massage course, expand their scope of practice and more.

Potomac Massage Training Institute is located at 5028 Wisconsin Ave., NW, D.C., the lower level. For more information, call 202-686-7046 or visit 

Sharon Hadden, writer, editor and public relations consultant helps businesses manage and understand their digital footprint. 



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