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New noncredit course teaches acupressure, shiatsu techniques to health care practitioners

Aug. 31, 2012

Shiatsu massage

In ancient Chinese medicine it is thought that there are points on the body in which “qi,” or life energy, comes to the surface. Western medicine calls them pressure points and medical studies have shown that massage therapists can manipulate them to reduce stress and manage pain.

Caregivers can learn massage techniques to manipulate these points in a new noncredit course at the Community College of Rhode Island: Acupressure and Shiatsu for Health Care Practitioners.

Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage that means “finger pressure.” Practitioners use their fingers and palms to massage certain parts of the body, known as meridians, to reduce stress and soreness.

Acupressure is a related art in which practitioners use their fingers to stimulate pressure points – the same ones targeted in the more invasive therapy of acupuncture, which uses needles.

Acupressure and Shiatsu for Health Care Practitioners is designed primarily for occupational and massage therapists, nursing assistants and home health aides who wish to learn these ancient and gentle methods to enhance their caregiving. People with some prior experience in shiatsu or none at all are welcome.

“I’m very passionate about integrative medicine … and we wanted to put together a course that was all about trying to bring these techniques into any number of health care environments,” said Karlo Berger, a shiatsu therapist with 14 years of experience who will teach the course.

“It’s great for massage therapists but I would really love to see some home health aides take the course, too,” he added.

Berger said that people caring for the elderly or who work in hospice care spend a lot of time with their patients and may have a lot of opportunities to use shiatsu or acupressure techniques.

Berger has been interested in Eastern medicine since he began studying tai chi in the 1980s. He took his first course in shiatsu therapy a few years later and never looked back, opening a private practice on Providence’s East Side and working at Harvard’s University Health Services. In addition, he teaches a credit course in shiatsu massage at CCRI for students studying massage therapy in the college’s Department of Rehabilitative Health.

“I’ve been finding over these 14 years that the better you master [acupressure points] the more effective they can be,” Berger said. “They’re easy to learn but they still teach me.”

Acupressure and Shiatsu for Health Care Practitioners will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Oct. 2 to 23 at CCRI’s Downcity location in the Shepard Building, 80 Washington St., Providence. The cost of enrollment is $145 plus a $5 registration fee. Learn how to register



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Last Updated: 8/25/16