Mentoring Massage

Sharing Experiences for Success

By Karrie Osborn
[ABMP Member Profile]

Rania Ismail takes great pride in helping new massage students navigate their journey. She counsels them on the realities of practice management and gives them pep talks when doubt impedes their success. She shares her own struggles as a former student. And she tells them that being blind is not a hindrance to her work, or theirs.

“I mentor blind massage students from all across the country,” says this 28-year-old MT from Hackettstown, New Jersey. Some students need a study buddy, some need a mentor, and some just need a friend who understands their struggles. Blind since birth, Ismail is able to be all that and more.

It was because of her own experience as a blind massage student that Ismail knew she wanted to give back to her profession. When she enrolled in massage school in 2007, things didn’t work out very well, she says. Disillusioned, but not ready to give up, Ismail searched for another, more accommodating program to complete her training. One of her first questions this time was how many blind students the school had trained. She knew she had found the right program when she interviewed the Institute for Therapeutic Massage. Today, Ismail tries to show other blind students how to battle through similar roadblocks.

“Sometimes the students just need someone in their corner; someone to be their cheerleader. It feels good to help someone else achieve the same goal I was after.” Ismail tells blind massage students to explore their options and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask if the school has had blind students, ask to speak to blind alumni, and let your instructors know what you need.

Some of her best advice for blind massage students is derived from her own real-world experience. “Have instructors email all your handouts and PowerPoints ahead of time. Ask to be the demo model so you can feel what the instructor is trying to teach. And have good and patient practice partners.”

Ismail, who knew she wanted to help people since she was a young teenager, volunteers her chair massage for local fundraisers, health fairs, and nonprofits. She calls her mentoring work “very gratifying” and is proud each time another one of her students graduates.

But she’s not ready to stop there. With a thriving practice at a local full-service day spa, Ismail still dreams of one day taking her expertise and opening a practice that employs other blind therapists. “It will be my way to give back.”