Holistic Massage

News from our Worcester team

Our new Worcester students are now into the second week of their professional Holistic Massage Diploma training. Cleo and Colette, our assistant tutors on the Worcester team, tell us how the group is progressing, developing and growing – appropriately enough for spring!

“Bubble and Squeak?” asked one of the students with a look of surprise. “No, Bubbling Spring” replied Sarah as she was explaining a meridian point on the sole of the foot whilst students were learning about foot massage on this second weekend into BCMB Worcester’s 2017 Professional Training Course. We can still hear the laughter this question brought ringing around the lovely space we teach in.

We can safely say we are in for a year full of fun and laughter with this lovely 2017 group of students. We have been really looking forward to this year as it is our second year of teaching together as a team. We have found our mojo of working together and have lots of fun which creates a great environment in which to learn and explore. Sarah, our lead tutor is so experienced; a fantastic mentor who we are lucky enough to assist on the teaching team.

Our first weekend in February is usually quite an anxious one for the students. We both remember this feeling when embarking on our own BCMB training courses. Everyone is feeling a bit unsure and have so many questions swirling around their heads, “Will I get on with other students? Will I be able to learn the anatomy and physiology? Will I have to tell everyone about myself?”  It isn’t long though before they discover that everyone has their individual apprehensions and concerns and they are usually relieved when told that they don’t need to know each other’s stories. By lunchtime of the first day in the cafe (yes, we even have a fabulous cafe at the Fold in Bransford where we run the Worcester course) there is so much chatter and laughter as these students of mixed ages and backgrounds come together and get to know one another through their communal interest in massage.

This weekend in March was our second weekend together and everyone was so much more relaxed and connected. The students really enjoyed our supervision sessions where they get the opportunity to split into small groups, each group facilitated by one of us as tutors. In these small groups they have the opportunity to explore and share their successes, concerns and learn from one another’s experiences. This is a model that as a school, BCMB take forward throughout the course year and beyond into professional life as a massage therapist. We as tutors and assistant tutors all go to supervision to continue in our professional development, to share our experiences with peers and to talk through any difficulties and successes we have.

We look forward to observing and sharing in this year’s journey with 2017 Worcester BCMB group.

Cleo and Colette
Assistant Tutors BCMB Worcester

Cleo, Colette and Sarah all run private supervision groups for qualified practitioners in the Worcester area.  To find out more, including when our Bristol tutors run sessions, visit our supervision group section on our CPD page.

Holistic Massage Intro with Pip Instone

Our single-weekend Introductory Workshops introduce massage as a creative process and teach effective techniques. Above all they are fun!

Completion of the Introductory Workshop may inspire you to explore massage further. Whatever your expectations we wish you a wonderful journey.

The programme is likely to include:

  • Working with a partner including shoulders, back, legs, arms and face
  • Varied and appropriate touch using different parts of our hands
  • Effective bodyuse for minimising strain
  • Participants will work on a massage table and may also work on the floor and in a chair
  • Self-massage


> Pip Instone


£130 or £110 concessionary rate for OAP’s, students, and unemployed

More information

Visit the Introductory Workshop page for more information

Book on an Introductory Workshop

Book online

Book by post

Course Code:  IW22017  –  Please quote this code when paying by BACS

Other courses and workshops you might like

Introductory Workshop in Thai Massage

Professional Training Course in Holistic Massage

Teaching the long and the short: and I’m not talking body types!

By Jeremy Dymond, Holistic Massage Diploma Tutor

I spend most of my time as a tutor at Bristol College of Massage & Bodywork (BCMB) teaching the Level 4 Diploma in Holistic Massage. And I love it.

You get to see people with little or no experience of massage start to dip a toe in; dive headlong; swim, sometimes flounder a little; gain support, knowledge & experience; grow confident; and sail on beyond with a professional skill for helping others under their belt.

This weekend though I’ve been teaching an ‘Introduction to Massage’ two-day workshop at BCMB. Which I also love.

Like the Diploma course you get to see people with little or no experience of massage start to dip a toe in; dive headlong; swim, sometimes flounder a little; gain support, knowledge & experience; grow confident; – you may have spotted some repetition here! – and sail on beyond to carry some of these basic skills in to their lives (and maybe on into the Diploma course).

So what’s my point – why the repetition?!63768_3526_1_H007

…well, the two courses are so different to teach… in the full Diploma course there’s so much juicy detail, intriguing anatomical learning, valuable physiology & pathology information, developing & refining of people skills, creation of clear a supportive connection with people, and interesting ways to effectively apply this knowledge to the hands-on work of the actual massage.

There’s no way you can cover even a tenth of this in a 2day Introduction to Massage workshop!..

… but one of the reasons I love the short Introductory workshop is because I’m unendingly in awe of how it captures the essence of the full Diploma course… in just two days!

It reflects the person centred, nurturing, accepting ethos of the Diploma course, and of the College as a whole.

It captures the main principles underpinning the Diploma course and offers a lot of the, oh-so-important, sensitive, connecting, hands-on work.

The two days may not give anything like the superb depth of knowledge and growth of skills people gain form the Diploma course but it really does capture the college’s essence, and it is this essence that drew me to BCMB and gives me the greatest pleasure to share it with others.

Jeremy Dymond

Jeremy Dymond

Jeremy Dymond was drawn to massage having experienced many benefits from it while suffering a back condition. He trained with BCMB in 2010 and now works in private practice in Bath where he also lives. He is an assistant on the BCMB Professional Training Course in Worcester. He uses influences from Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi to look after himself and further support his massage work. Always keen to be outdoors and active, be it on his bike or walking and camping, Jeremy forever looks to make better use of his body and to find effective ways to relax his mind. He finds great satisfaction in using massage to help others get the best from their bodies.

Teaches: Holistic Massage (Bristol)

What is Holistic Massage by Andy Fagg, Director of BCMB

What is holistic massage?

The term holistic massage can be woolly, vague, wet. At best, practitioners may talk of treating the “whole person” – body, mind and spirit. At worst they just burn incense, play whale music and charge you a stupid price.

Actually I like the word holistic although I agree with those who object to its “holiness” connotation. So just what is the “whole” that we refer to here?

At BCMB, massage is seen as a process of engagement, a dynamic communication of touch and response. There are three aspects to “wholeness”:

  1. the whole client, with physical, emotional and spiritual needs;
  2. the whole practitioner, present and focused, paying good attention;
  3. a whole range of techniques used as appropriate to the situation.

So how does massage work?


Holistic Massage - handsAs I touch your body, a whole range of physiological responses can occur, affecting the skin, sensory nerve receptors, muscle tissue, circulation of blood and lymph, ease of joint movement, breathing, digestion and so on. My skill as a therapist means I vary the depth, speed and intention to enable different responses to occur.

Yet there is much more than this.


Your emotions are body felt sensations. Anger, joy, fear, hope, shame, sadness – consider how each feels and you will evoke a physical sensation.


Also, your tissues display your conscious and unconscious belief systems. If you are confident and outgoing, you will present with very different postural and muscular patterning than if you feel insignificant and unimportant.

So when I touch you, I literally touch your view of yourself and how you feel. And that is the product not only of who you are now but also all your personal history up to that moment.

There is more.


holistic massage - AndyWhen I touch you, not only are your physical and emotional responses present, but so are mine. All my physical symptoms, feelings and personal history are also in the room. Of course, as a professional therapist, I take care of myself elsewhere, but I may also draw on my experience to support your personal process. So I may develop an expertise in working with clients whose experiences relate to mine. The range of outcomes from each therapeutic relationship is enormous, rich and constantly exciting.


As human beings, we are physical entities. Part of the deal of the human condition is that each of us has a body! Yet we have a culture that marginalizes the body, teaching us to be ashamed of its size, shape and functions. Many of us are not properly “embodied”. Our families, the media, partners and our own inner critics try to tell us that our bodies are not good enough.

The role of holistic massage is both radical and simple, namely enabling people to live fully in their bodies.   That’s it!

In future blogs I will define massage in one sentence and reveal the 4 principles that guide our work at BCMB with students and clients.

Andy Fagg

BCMB Founder and Director

12th May 2016

Reflection on the Holistic Massage Course by Annie Johansen

Annie Johansen started the Holistic Massage Diploma back in September 2015.  She has kindly shared her reflection on the course so far. This is an exercise all holistic massage students are asked to undertake half way through the course.

What were your expectations and anxieties at the start of the course? Which of these have been met? Is there anything you need to do about them now and if so, what?

I have wanted to study massage for so many years now (9 to be precise, 7 since I took the plunge and first got in touch with BCMB) and after many jobs, 2 babies and a whole lot of soul searching I am finally doing it! I spent a good few months gathering information about different massage courses in and around Bristol, looking at course content and trying to work out what would suit me and before I applied, I visited BCMB. The moment I stepped through the door I knew this was the course for me. My expectations (which have been met!) were that there would be far more hands on practise then other courses, that we would be learning how to massage without damaging our own bodies and we would be practically applying APP knowledge as we are massaging people. The course has surpassed my expectations with the self-reflection work, holistic approach, energy work, and so many more additions to massage and body work! My anxieties were that with two small children and a job I would find the course too much and not be able to cope. This hasn’t been the case at all, if anything the fact I am being regularly massaged, enjoying the meditation homework and the student practice sessions at BCMB working so well for me, I am actually feeling more calm than I have done in a long time!

Consider the 4 massage principles we have been working with, do they work for you and if so how? Is there anything you would like to change?

Self-Awareness: I love the self-awareness principles, the activities we have been doing from the anchors meditation to the energy work on ourselves, feels like not only am I helping others with massage, but this course is really helping me to slow down, calm down and notice myself. Which, as I imagine most mothers would agree, is something quite easily brushed to one side when you are trying to look after two other humans! I think this is hugely important in massage practise, as you need to look after yourself and be grounded before you can start working on helping others!

Quality of Touch: This is something that I think is hugely important – before the course I have had ‘alright’ or sometimes rubbish massage and not been able put my finger on why and after studying (and practicing the quality of touch exercises on myself) I can fully see why! 50/50 touch is incredibly important and the best feedback I have had are the massages I have felt were amazing, showing the 50/50 principle in reality.

63770_3528_1_M036Posture and Movement: Correct posture and movement during massage was one of my expectations before the course started and I was so pleased it was one of the first things we learnt. Before I had even got anyone onto my table I knew how to stand, how to use my body so that I didn’t get into any bad habits before hand and have to relearn! This is one of the most valuable lessons and something I still have to remind myself to do, sometimes I feel like I’m struggling with a massage and then I realise my shoulders are up, and my stance is all wrong. To have that as a starting point has made massage so much easier to do!

Rapport and Communication: I am quite a sociable person and verbal communication comes quite easily, so it has been really great to learn and work on my non-verbal communication – listening to and responding to people’s bodies, their breathing and body language. I am a fast talker, which in my current world of marketing works well, but this is something I have to work on and especially not filling silences in consultations with chatter, but simply allowing clients to talk, at their pace, about their bodies!

Which areas of the course do you find most enriching and /or challenging? How might these areas unfold? What are your needs for the remainder of the course?

I find the hands on practise the most enriching – I love to massage and to be massaged, so this goes without saying that I would like this part the most! I find the APP side fascinating – our bodies are so clever!! I do find this a challenge, but the more we do, the more it comes clearer. I also find that including bone names and muscles in our write ups means they are becoming easier to remember. I think as I have always massaged in an intuitive way, having to think of the body as bones and muscles and label it as we massage is my biggest challenge – I totally understand the importance of it, but I just struggle with this and then when we are working with specific muscles and / or deeper work on muscles I find my confidence takes a knock and I have to really concentrate so I’m probably not as grounded or 50/50 – I would imagine I am streaming!

How has your experience of the course to date affected the rest of your life? Are there possibilities or potentials from the rest of your life that might inform your massage and vice versa? How might you pursue these?

I would say it has rounded my life, I no longer feel the need to constantly think ‘what if’ I study massage as I am doing it! It has made me appreciate the life I have made for myself, my children and how far I have come. I think instead of trying to change myself into the calm, laid back person I am probably never going to be, the self-awareness exercises make me realise it is fine to be me most of the time if I can have my escape into calmness with massage, both giving and receiving. I think empathy and understanding from my own life informs the massage I give – I also think this will be ongoing and my massage will grow with me as I grow.

What massage means to me?

Massage is my calmness, my escape and my rest. It restores my energy and leaves me feeling whole again. I feel like I can fly or that I am floating on water, waves of relaxation wash over and inside me and leave me refreshed and restored. It is like someone presses reset and for that hour I am updating – so no one can reach me or use me or distract me. I don’t have to please anyone, or talk or crack a joke. I am simply me, lying quietly while someone else controls my body. I don’t have to worry or write lists or even think, I can just be still and appreciate that for this hour at least I am hidden from the world!

Escapism  –  Restoration  –  Contentment

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