Downeast School of Massage
PO Box 24 • 99 Moose Meadow Lane, Waldoboro, ME 04572
207-832-5531 • email


Science and Muscle Courses

Science is the foundation of your art. The development of your palpation skills and the technique utilized is based on the structure. Pehr Hendrik Ling (1776-1839), the founder of the Swedish system of medical gymnastics, believed that a thorough knowledge of the human body and nature's laws was a minimum for an intelligent understanding of physical education. Ling studied Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Lund and developed a practice from a scientific position that attempted to explain the cause-and-effect relationships of the healing process. His school was soon attended by allopaths of the era, curious about his success and his techniques. Pathology and Kinesiology were also taught in Ling's curriculum. The courses described here have been designed specifically for giving the DSM student knowledge in the sciences of the human body. The curriculum allows the student to build on that information by reinforcing structure and function in the technique classes.

a class group

“The Downeast School of Massage provides topnotch education from leaders in the industry, which equips graduates to be highly effective critical thinkers and therapists who mindfully treat per each client's individual needs. Just as valuable are the caring support, personal growth and transformation, and close bonds formed all with a healthy dose of Heart in a beautiful, relaxing setting. Thankfully, the learning, guidance, and friendship continue well beyond graduation, because it's a hard place to leave behind!”

Kate Gerencer
September 2013

Science and Muscle Courses

*Anatomy and Physiology Curricula Objective
To teach a comprehensive understanding of the structure and function of the human body, using experiential and traditional teaching methods.

Anatomy (57 Hours)
This course will present an introductory overview of the human body with an emphasis on the skeletal and muscular systems. All the major systems of the body will be described from a gross anatomy and a tissue level perspective. This course will include a lab component for experiential movement to bring anatomy “alive.” At the completion of this course, students will be able to visually identify, manually locate, and label the major components of each system. A 75% minimum grade average is required to pass Anatomy.

Physiology (57 Hours)
This course will present an overview of physiological processes in the human body. Special emphasis will be on the interrelationships between the musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory systems. Students will gain a basic understanding of the function of the human body pertinent to a massage therapy practice. A 75% grade average is needed to pass Physiology.

*Pathology Curriculum Objective
To teach basic concepts of disease and its relationship to Massage Therapy.

Pathology (40 Hours)
Pathology is the study of disease. In this course the student will gain a basic understanding of the concepts of disease, inflammatory response, client assessment, therapeutic evaluation, and when to refer. Special emphasis will be on the integumentary, musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory systems. Students will be able to recognize and locate reference material on the pathological processes most likely encountered in a massage therapy practice. A basic introduction to HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and other diseases involving public health will include definitions, precautions, contraindications, and disease awareness. A 75% grade average is needed to pass Pathology.

*Kinesiology and Maniken® Muscles Curricula Objectives
To facilitate learning the origins, insertions, and actions of muscles and lay a foundation for advanced technique.

Kinesiology (45 Hours)
Approximately 100 muscles are taught by lecture, slides, and supervised practice to encourage the student to know where the muscles attach and their actions. Introduction to advanced techniques of Dimensional Massage enables the student to palpate muscles and their attachments, giving a kinesthetic approach to gaining the information. Dimensional Massage incorporates and complements understanding the structure to develop treatment goals with the Swedish techniques taught in the Massage Course. A 75% grade average is required to pass Kinesiology.

Maniken® Muscles (12 Hours lab)
Developed by Jon Zahourek Systems, Maniken class gives the student the opportunity to build muscles of the extremities using clay on a maniken model. This provides the student with a three dimensional, kinesthetic learning process for understanding muscles. Besides giving a review of the skeletal structure, Maniken Muscles helps the student to perceive the relationship of one muscle to another in terms of depth, superficiality, and attachments. No one needs artistic talent, as this course is based on participation and completion of task. This is a Pass/Fail class.

Massage and Related Courses

Although DSM has a strong foundation in the sciences, the program goes well beyond science and teaches the student a wide variety of practical experiences. Massage courses begin with a comprehensive presentation of therapeutic massage theory and technique. Integration with other courses during the program enables the student to give a massage treatment designed for the individual, based on the structure, medical history, postural assessment, and problem at hand. Self-care classes teach the student lessons in stretching, boundaries, communication skills, and self-awareness for physical and emotional needs during school and in practice. Hydrotherapy provides specific applications to the body to add comfort, relaxation, and preparation for massage. Video Mechanics classes support the school's position on proper body mechanics to avoid injuries before and after graduation. Deep tissue and static & motion analysis advance the student to a greater understanding of technique and structure. Elder Massage, Pregnancy Massage, and Children's Clinic show how massage is valuable to specific populations. Reflexology adds to the student's knowledge base to give special emphasis to hands and feet. The clinic ties everything up in a tidy bundle, providing extremely valuable learning experience working on members of the general public who have a variety of conditions, illnesses, and discomforts. DSM students soothe and relax the community. No wonder so many people sign up for clinic participation!





“Downeast School of Massage is not just life-changing; it's life molding. I leave DSM realizing that today, I am a better person than I was yesterday, and that's because of the love and compassion given by the DSM staff and teachers.”

Heather Peaslee
September 2013

Massage and Related Courses

*Therapeutic Massage Curriculum Objectives
To nurture confidence and personal growth, inspiring more understanding and compassion in the individual. To teach a significant understanding of the value of touch and the psychological implications that accompany all massage work. To impart a holistic understanding of the benefits, effects, and limitations of massage therapy to appropriately refer clients to other health professionals when necessary. To teach a working competence in the practical use of Therapeutic Massage. To teach proper movement skills for each individual to prevent work-related injuries. To teach a significant introduction to pregnancy massage and to present an opportunity for students to massage children. To give students the opportunity to massage members of the elder population.

Therapeutic Massage (177 Hours)
This is the foundation of techniques taught at DSM. Holistically presented in theory and technique, Swedish is interwoven with other representations of manipulative, soft tissue therapies for the purpose of individualizing treatments. Students will become competent in techniques and learn theory, contraindications, therapeutic benefits, effects, and history of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork in relationship to manipulative therapies. Advanced techniques are practiced and supported by Kinesiology. Special classes on headaches and blindfold massage are a part of the massage course curriculum. Video mechanics classes are a support arm of all table technique classes. Students are videotaped so they can actually see themselves practice massage. DSM invites pregnant women to participate in the biannual Pregnancy Massage Clinic. Students learn contraindications and physical support mechanisms by lecture and technique, as well as by demonstration and practice, before the Pregnancy Massage Clinic. The clinic gives the student the opportunity to practice, under supervision, with women in various stages of pregnancy. In another supervised setting, students have the opportunity to practice massage techniques on children at the annual community-supported Children's Massage Clinic. Students learn just how much children love massage! For the elder population, students will learn basic information, contraindications, and techniques to work with the elderly. Out-of-class work includes log hours, a massage project, case studies, homework, and four treatments from professional, working therapists. Students must have a 75% grade average to pass Therapeutic Massage and complete all course requirements.

*Centering Curriculum Objectives
To introduce students to the Body/Mind perspective and its relationship to massage therapy. To teach and practice centering techniques that can be easily applied and integrated into the students personal and professional lives.

Centering Techniques for Body/Mind (6 Hours)
This course offers students a practical philosophy and set of techniques which help to bring the body/mind into balance, thus promoting physical and emotional healing, relaxation, and well-being. Students will learn concepts and techniques that can be easily applied and integrated into their personal and professional lives. Content includes a variety of breathing and centering techniques, basic movement techniques, mindfulness, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, visualization and imagery, and Concept of 100 Percent Responsibility. Attendance and participation make this course Pass/Fail.

*Introduction to Self-Care and Professional Development Course

To explore the emotional and physical challenges and responsibilities encountered while learning to become a professional massage therapist.

Introduction to Self-Care and Professional Development (9 Hours)
Facilitated small-group discussions explore such topics as boundaries, injury prevention, sexuality, emotional release, trauma issues, burnout, dual relationships, money, transference, countertransference, supervision, and communication. The experiences of participants and working professionals are used to gain insights into the complexity of client/therapist relationships. As a formal commitment to good physical health, the student is required to perform and log appropriate forms of exercise during the school year. Attendance, participation, and a paper written and presented are all necessary for completion. This is a Pass/Fail course.

Clinic (71 Hours)
Valuable in-class hours offer the student the opportunity to work with the public in a supervised setting. Each year DSM advertises to the community that student massage is available for a reasonable charge, and the response has made the clinic a success. Clinic supervisors work directly with the students, helping with technique, checking medical histories and SOAP notes, developing treatment goals, and monitoring student body mechanics. Clinic participants give feedback to students through evaluation forms. Participation and attendance make this course Pass/Fail.

*Deep Tissue Therapy and Static & Motion Analysis Curricula

To teach effective deep tissue techniques and postural assessment to enhance therapeutic practice.

Deep Tissue Therapy (36 Hours)
This course includes an introduction to rehabilitative techniques used to treat chronic pain produced by Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) and muscular dysfunction from injury. The foundation of this class is the research of Ida Rolf, Dr. Janet Travell, Thomas Myers, and Paul St. John, and the effective techniques they developed. Subsequent work done by other practitioners in the field of therapeutic bodywork is incorporated. The techniques used for Deep Tissue Therapy include energy work, exercises in tissue-listening, myofascial release, a variety of energizing movement techniques for personal centering, and client reeducation. Participation and attendance make Deep Tissue Therapy Pass/Fail.

Static & Motion Analysis (12 Hours)
This course will present a basic overview of the techniques and clinical reasoning behind the assessment of static and motion analysis. Students will learn how to use visual cues in assessing clients’ postural holding patterns. Students will participate in gait analysis, and differentiate holding patterns through active and passive range of motion testing. This is a practical participation class that links Swedish, Kinesiology, and Deep Tissue courses. It is Pass/Fail.

*Reflexology Curriculum Objective
To teach a significant introduction to Reflexology.

Reflexology (6 Hours)
Students will be able to incorporate Reflexology into a massage treatment. Specific techniques, zone areas, and sequence are taught in order to understand reflexology methods, history, and philosophy. Reflexology is Pass/Fail.

*Hydrotherapy Curriculum Objective
To teach a significant introduction to Hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy (12 Hours)
Hydrotherapy is the use of water in solid, liquid, or gaseous form. Students experience and learn functional applications of sauna, spa, steam, ice, paraffin, and hydrocollator as used in massage therapy. It includes principles of hydrotherapy and contraindications, as well as salt glows, fomentations, and cold packs. Hydrotherapy is a Pass/Fail course.

*Oncology Massage Curriculum Objective
To introduce students to the modality of Lymphatic Drainage

Introduction to Oncology Massage (9 Hours)
This introductory class will enhance the student's knowledge of massage therapy concepts that will be applied in the Oncology Massage setting through lecture, open discussion, and hands-on experience. Each student will have the opportunity to experience comfort touch and receive information on lymphedema, thrombosis, with additional discussions about the emerging field of Oncology Massage. Attendance and participation make this class Pass/Fail.

*Introduction to Shiatsu Curriculum Objective
To teach an introduction to Shiatsu.

Introduction to Shiatsu (6 Hours)
For philosophy and diversity, this mandatory course gives the student an introduction to an Eastern bodywork. Students will be introduced to the basic premise of Oriental medicine, the 5 principles of Shiatsu, meridian lines, Yin/Yang Theory, Chi or Ki, the hara, and tsubos. Attendance and participation make this course Pass/Fail.

*Sports Massage Curriculum Objective
To teach a working competence in event sports massage and to teach an introduction to the assessment and treatment of chronic injuries/conditions using sports massage techniques for recovery, and rehabilitative massage, for casual, recreational, competitive, and professional athletes; and to develop basic marketing strategies to promote massage therapy in a variety of practice settings.

Sports Massage (24 Hours)
This 24-hour course is taught over two weekends and introduces students to the exciting world of working with active people—the casual fitness enthusiast; adolescent, high school, and collegiate athletes; recreational and weekend competitors; masters and senior athletes; the disabled athlete, and of course, the elite and professional sportsperson. The course includes pre- and post-event massage, joint mobilization, thermal problems, proprioceptor neuromuscular facilitation, cryotherapy, and other techniques with supervised practical time. Attendance and participation make this course Pass/Fail.

*CranioSacral Therapy Curriculum Objective
To teach an introduction to the modality of CranioSacral Therapy.

CranioSacral Therapy (6 Hours)
This 6-hour course will introduce the healing modality of CranioSacral Therapy through lecture and hands-on experience. In the early 1900s, the CranioSacral system was discovered by William G. Sutherland, DO, who believed that there was movement in the cranial bones. Conventional anatomical knowledge and teaching believed that cranial bones were movable only in young infants, and that these bones were solidly fused in adulthood. In the early 1970s, the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University began a series of studies to prove or disprove cranial bone movement. The MSU team proved and measured the frequency and amplitude of cranial bone movement in adult living primates. Dr. John Upledger, a member of the MSU cranial team, has since been developing techniques for evaluation and treating the dural membranes. CranioSacral Therapy is a very gentle hands-on technique to detect and correct imbalances or restrictions in the CranioSacral system, thereby encouraging one's own natural healing to be augmented. Attendance and participation make this a Pass/Fail course.

*Introduction to Chronic Pain Curriculum Objective
To provide an introductory class in the broad topic of Chronic Pain

Introduction to Chronic Pain (3 Hours)
Lecture teaches a basic understanding of the definition of chronic pain and how to support clients who deal with it daily. Chronic pain is the category where we as massage therapists are the most successful, but have the most failure. Understanding chronic pain will be a life-long goal in your practice. Attendance and participation are required for a Pass/Fail grade.

Career Development

Ethics and business courses prepare students to maintain high standards and achieve success. DSM has a variety of courses to stimulate the business side of the career field. The reality is that after the student has combined art with science, he/she has to figure out how to market, promote, and run a business. The courses in career development are designed to walk the student through this process.

“My education at DSM gave me a foundation to start and I am thankful for that! The education also touched on different subjects that piqued my interest and has given me something to look forward to learning more about.”

Olivia LaChance
January 2014

Career Development

*Career Development Curricula Objective
To introduce information on business skills necessary to be either successfully self-employed or to work with another health professional or health facility.

Business Design (14 Hours)
This course will present basic business management skills including marketing, bookkeeping, insurance billing, and creative ideas for a successful massage practice. Students will learn about target markets and how to advertise and design a basic office layout. A 75% grade average is required to pass Business Design.

Business Panel and Integrating Business (3 Hours)
The business panel is composed of visiting massage therapists and guest speakers who represent their experiences to the students. A moderator keeps the discussion rolling and prepares a set of possible questions and scenarios for the group to discuss. This class gives the student the opportunity to listen to and question experienced massage therapists who have different target markets and a variety of practices in the field of massage therapy and bodywork. Discussion will include information on how massage therapy can be integrated with other health care modalities. Attendance and participation make this class Pass/Fail.

The Art of Public Presentations (3 Hours)
This class centers on how to present information on massage therapy to a group. Students will receive a variety of marketing presentation outlines to help promote their massage therapy practices. All participants will be guided through a seated massage exchange. Public speaking and techniques utilized to help dispel the fear of presenting to a group will be explored. Attendance and participation make this class Pass/Fail.

*Ethics Curriculum Objective
To instill ethics as an integrated philosophy with massage therapy to properly prepare the individual for the professional aspects of the career.

Ethics (9 Hours)
“Ethics is the process by which we sort out what best creates inner and outer harmony in our lives.” Kylea Taylor, The Ethics of Caring. Classes include lecture on the philosophy and science of ethics and its relationship to massage therapy, clients, and other health professionals. Group participation includes solving ethical dilemmas and presenting “answers” to the entire class for further discussion. Students will be able to define ethics and will explore a variety of codes of ethics from the field of Massage Therapy. Attendance and participation make Ethics Pass/Fail.


Introduction (6 hours) is mandatory for all students. Orientation is an important time to introduce the program to students and discuss the curriculum, schedules, and policies of the school. Books are distributed, and it is a time to get to know your new classmates, as well as teachers and administration.

Continuing Education and Electives

DSM offers continuing educationin order to present a holistic approach to learning. Any of our core courses can be taken separately as continuing education. Courses are individually priced according to length, design, and purpose. Special guest workshops, certification programs, and other continuing education options are also open to graduates and professional massage therapists.

Guest speakers from all over the world have presented on a wide variety of subjects at DSM. Curriculum, continuing education, programs, and dates are subject to change, In the event that school is closed due to weather conditions, students and workshop participants will be informed.

The Downeast School of Massage is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education Approved Provider.

Go to the Continuing Education page and its links for a full calendar and descriptions of workshops.

*Shiatsu Curriculum Objectives
To teach a working competence in Shiatsu.

Shiatsu (90 Hours)

Shiatsu, derived from the ancient system of Chinese Medicine which gave us acupuncture, has been called “acupuncture without needles.” Shiatsu treats the common complaints of clients, as well as headaches, digestive, heart and circulatory disorders, asthma and other breathing problems. It goes beyond treating the muscles to address underlying energetic imbalances that may cause chronic muscle tension and postural distortion. Shiatsu treatments are effective for many symptoms, from physical pain to emotional stress and fatigue. Shiatsu enhances vitality.