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Graduate Stories....Sarah Jane Heath

Cotswold Academy Graduate Story

Sarah Jane Heath, ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Massage

What was your reason for studying/ changing careers?

I am fascinated by the body, particularly how our bodies accumulate stress and trauma and how this can lead to chronic conditions and mental health challenges.

For the past two decades, I have been on a personal journey of growth and discovery, listening and learning from my body and finding some of the keys to integrating traumatic experiences and letting go of judgements, painful beliefs and limiting conditioning. Massage has been a big part of this for me; feeling safe and supported through touch is, I believe, essential to being human.

In these times of pandemic, global disruption and climate crisis, it feels more important now than ever that we trust the wisdom of our bodies, support our nervous systems and connect through touch. I have a professional background in Social Work and training in Gestalt Psychotherapy, so it felt like a natural step for me to train as a Holistic Massage Therapist to become more familiar with the science of anatomy and physiology and skilfully offer touch to my clients.


What did you enjoy most about learning with us?

I particularly enjoyed the sense of community I felt whilst training at the Cotswold Academy; the warmth and helpfulness of Olivia and the other office staff, Annette's knowledge, skill, and wisdom and the clear vision and business advice from Chris.

I completed the taught part of my course just before we entered the first lockdown, so it was an interesting time to start something new. Still, the Academy felt like a beacon in the dark, offering sage advice and encouragement when I needed it. It’s great to have all the online resources and the Thursday evening drop-in sessions to continue my professional development.

How have you used your training since?

I qualified in July 2021 and started two small practices at the Lotus Retreat in Faringdon Oxfordshire and in a private space in East Oxford. My client base is growing slowly, and I’m enjoying the learning that comes with each new client.

I offer trauma-sensitive Holistic Massage, which means I pay particular attention to the assessment process and cues of the client's trauma history and how this shows up in their body. My slow, sensitive, attentive approach allows clients to feel safe and connected so that their bodies can discover deep rest during sessions.

I also offer a ‘Deeper Listening Programme’ over a series of sessions, where massage and a therapeutic relationship allow clients to share more about their lived experience, discover new ways to understand strong emotions and physiological reactions to stress and open to new possibilities for connection and wellbeing. The Deeper Listening Programme is suited to clients who have worked with a psychotherapist around trauma and want to experience safe, consensual touch within a professional relationship.

I also work wiih clients who are just beginning to learn about their trauma and may refer them to a trauma specialist if necessary to support their recovery.

What are your plans and aspirations going forwards?

I intend to continue building both practices with a mixture of Holistic Massage and Deeper Listening Programmes.

I am passionate about vocal expression and singing and offer one-to-one and group sessions to support natural expression. I am excited to see how my massage training will continue to inform this work, building a solid foundation of the ease with my clients and the potential for massage to support the voice.

I am also keen to develop a package of support for other Holistic Therapists who might be working with clients who’ve experienced trauma. I’m working on an Introductory Training Course for Holistic Therapists and developing mentoring/support for those wishing to embed trauma sensitivity in their bodywork.

What’s your biggest challenge for the year ahead?

My biggest challenge is making sure I can give each area of my work the necessary time and attention for it to flourish.

Finding the resolve to promote work sometimes feels like a challenge. I have been fortunate to benefit from word-of-mouth recommendations so far. Still, I would also like to develop a social media strategy that reaches further and wider. Attending the Business Evening at the Academy really helped when I was starting out, but I intend to review things and join the team for another session in the new year.

What are you looking forward to most?

I’m most looking forward to continuing my practice, having a steady flow of income through massage and meeting new clients. In particular, witnessing the journeys of those who embark on a Deeper Listening Programme, hearing about their reduced symptoms and improved sense of self - as one client recently put it ‘it is real progress for me, and I think a result of me being more comfortable in my own skin’.

I’m also looking forward to connecting with other Holistic Therapists at the Academy’s CPD events and learning from each other through exchanges with my peers.

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to follow Sarah Jane's progress and learn more about Deeper Listening at: