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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Are courses identical at all ISRM schools?

The ISRM qualification is built on a set of learning outcomes rather than a core curriculum that stipulates the number of hours per subject. To achieve the learning outcomes from their students, each school decides how much time they require, and has the flexibility to adapt a programme to meet the specific training needs of their students.


The training programme must run over a period of at least 9 months but can be divided up in a number of ways. Some schools run courses on one weekend per month (LSSM & PTS) and others do one day per fortnight (NLSSM). There is even scope to run courses with one week blocks spread over the same time period (none available yet).

Course programmes

These may vary between schools to fit in with the availability of their own tutors. Particularly with the more advanced remedial techniques, it is essential to have the best tutors with the right expertise, so each school has a degree of flexibility in writing its programme to accommodate this.

Extra subjects

Schools also have space within the programme to spend extra time on some subjects or to introduce other techniques and modalities which could stimulate further study and broaden awareness.

Our criteria

All schools must have their programme, structure and tutors approved by ISRM and must be capable of successfully achieving all the learning outcomes (or more).

All schools have to apply the same written coursework assignments, mid-course assessments and examinations (or more), and are all subject to the same Edexel/BTEC verification process.

The Institute works closely with the schools giving them support and assistance with tutor training.

Can the ISRM training lead to further qualifications?

Many ISRM trained therapists have gone on to train in osteopathy which is a very popular career development. The osteopathy colleges look favourably on applicants with our qualification. It also means that whilst doing this further training the student can supplement their income with massage work and greatly add to their clinical skills at the same time. Some also go on to train in physiotherapy and find the ISRM qualification to be equally beneficial.

Is the ISRM qualification internationally recognised?

International recognition for any massage course is impossible and it does not exist. How can there be when there are hundreds of foreign countries where the word ‘massage’ itself would not be recognised! Every country and every state is free to set its own regulation and there is no international standard that we could aim at. We know, for example, there are provinces in Canada where licensed massage practitioners need to have completed two years full time training, but in other parts of the world you can practice massage without any qualification at all.

Some organisations claim international recognition or include the word ‘international’ in their title, but all this actually means is that they run courses in other countries and is not an indication of the level or quality of the training.

The ISRM qualification is recognised in several countries where our practitioners have gone to work, but it would be wrong to claim anything more than that. We are happy to send information and assist you in your dealings with any country requiring information about our training. We will do everything we can on behalf of our members to help them gain recognition wherever they go.

Can I get a job with the ISRM qualification?

The majority of therapists are self-employed working in a variety of situations; health clubs, teams, or private clinics. Some also run clinics from their homes and provide home visiting services.

With the ever growing recognition of GCMT (The General Council for Massage Therapists) with whom we are working to standardize the high training levels that remedial massage requires, more employers are requesting therapists who are able to address clients who have a remedial requirement.

Does the ISRM qualification enable me to set up in private practice?

Yes, this is vocational training targeted toward the private practitioner. Our massage tutors are all successful working practitioners and it is their job to teach you how to do what they do.

It can take time to develop a private practice and most do this by developing a variety of markets. Getting involved with some local sports teams and working on a self-employed basis at a local health club is a good way of getting started. Having a few clients who you visit in their homes can be another means of practice, as well as treating clients in your own home.

The ISRM training gives you the skill and knowledge to do the job well and general advice and guidance on how to put this into practice. The rest is up to the individual practitioner to go out and establish a practice.

What is the difference between remedial massage and physiotherapy?

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) was initially formed by a group of remedial massage therapists, so about 100 years ago there was no difference. But remedial massage has many clinical limitations and, quite rightly, physiotherapy began to develop techniques, procedures and equipment to overcome some of those limitations. Along the way, however, massage became a smaller and smaller part of training and in many cases today hardly appears on their training curriculum.

Remedial massage, in one form or another, has been the most effective treatment for minor soft tissue conditions for thousands of years. Although it lost its popularity in the 20th century it did not die out altogether and has seen a great revival over the last 20 years. Of course the equipment used in massage, human hands and palpation skills, has not diminished over the years, nor has there been a change in the soft tissue conditions people suffer. So what was effective throughout history is no less effective today.

Physiotherapists today are being trained to deal with more and more serious conditions, and the minor soft tissue problems may not be given the importance they deserve. Remedial massage today is dealing quickly and effectively with many minor and chronic muscular problems which still seem to respond to good old-fashioned remedial massage better than anything else.

Physiotherapists, generally speaking, use very little massage, but remedial massage therapists use nothing but massage, so the two are clearly very different now. But the two do work very well together and we see great examples of remedial massage therapists working within physiotherapy clinics in the private sector, as well as working independently.