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Shiatsu Certification Program

Our Shiatsu Certification Program prepares you to step into the role of a healer.  Over eighteen months of part-time study, you will move through a progressive series of practical courses and clinical practice, supplemented by the same Chinese Medicine seminars taught to acupuncturists and the same Anatomy & Physiology classes taught to massage therapists.

Zen Shiatsu is a study that is beneficial for both giver and receiver.  In shiatsu, we assume that every person has within themselves everything they need for their own healing.  There is nothing that you can do to "fix" another person.  Rather, a shiatsu therapist is there to simply be present and create a space for the intrinsic healing potential of another person to manifest.

Each treatment is an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness and compassion while strengthening your own energy.  Through guided meditation practices and personal energy cultivation techniques, you will learn how to be rooted in the present moment, how to move well and gracefully, and how to discover just where your client most needs support. For many students, shiatsu becomes part of their own meditative practice.



14-20 months
3-9 hours per week, evenings and weekends

Shiatsu Certification Program Breakdown (625 Hours)

Zen Shiatsu Technique : 162 hours
Chinese Medicine : 103 hours
Anatomy & Physiology : 104 hours
Clinical Reasoning: 12 hours
Student Clinic : 84 hours
Externship: 20 hours
Business/Ethics/CPR : 30 hours
Elective Coursework : 40 hours
Practice Classes: 60 hours
Private Sessions: 10 one hour sessions


Shiatsu Massage Therapy Diploma Program Breakdown (715 Hours)

All 625 Hours of the Shiatsu Certification Program, plus:
Massage Basics: 30 hours
Musculoskeletal Pathology for Shiatsu Therapists: 30 hours
Systems Pathology for Shiatsu Therapists: 30 hours


Example of Reduced Program for Massage Therapists with Transfer Credit

Zen Shiatsu Technique : 181 hours
Chinese Medicine : 103 hours
Clinical Reasoning: 12 hours
Student Clinic : 84 hours


Start Dates

Ongoing throughout the year


Credentials Earned

Graduates of the 625-hour Shiatsu Certification Program receive the following:

  • A Diploma indicating graduation from Zen Shiatsu Chicago.
  • Certified Practitioner status as an Asian Bodywork Therapist from the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia™ (AOBTA®).

National Certification as an Asian Bodyworker is required for professional practice in the state of Illinois.  Because we are a member of the AOBTA® Council of Schools and Programs, graduates of our complete program are immediately eligible for Certified Practitioner status. 

Graduates of the 715-Hour Shiatsu Massage Therapy Diploma Program will receive:

  • Eligibility to sit for the NCBTMB exam for National Certification as a Massage Therapist.
  • A diploma meeting the educational requirements for massage licensing in the State of Illinois.
  • Eligibility to apply for an IL Massage License upon successful completion of the NCBTMB exam.

Application for an IL Massage License requires a criminal background check.

Massage Therapists with Transfer Credit:

  • Your massage training may cover the Western Sciences and Professional Development classes, combining with the the remaining Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine coursework (potentially as little as 380 remaining hours) to qualify you as a graduate of our 625-hour program.
  • You will be eligible for AOBTA Certified Practitioner status (a 500-hour membership level indicating full competency in shiatsu).

The Program Educational Objectives

1.  Instill the Five Principles of Zen Shiatsu -  “Relax”, “Penetration, Not Pressure”, “Stationary, Perpendicular Penetration”, “Two Hand Connectedness”, “Meridian Continuity”.  These principles work on students from within, directing their intention towards reverence and catalyzing healing without manipulation.

2.  Guide students through their metamorphosis into professional practitioners - Through our case studies, student clinic, ethics and business courses, we are there with students as they begin the process of working with the public, as they step into their roles as healers, and as they begin to arrange their lives to make bodywork their livelihood.

3.  Provide students with the training and credentials necessary by law to practice professionally.
  In Illinois, Asian bodyworkers are exempt from the Massage Licensing Act if they are Certified Practitioner members of the AOBTA.  Zen Shiatsu Chicago is a member of the AOBTA Council of Schools and Programs (COSP), and completion of our Professional Asian Bodywork Program therefore earns students immediate eligibility for Certified Practitioner status.

4.  Provide students with an interdisciplinary vocabulary in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zen Shiatsu and Western Physiology, and the fluency to translate between the three.  Through the study of SOAP note writing format, specific East/West cross-disciplinary training, and differential explanations of TCM and Zen Shiatsu theory, students will gain the ability to explain their work and share notes with those trained in TCM styles and western physiological methods.

5.  Prepare students to deliver holistic benefits across a spectrum of clinical applications.  Shiatsu benefits pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction with a minimum of effort.  It also conveys all the benefits of acupuncture for internal organ issues, benefitting sleep, digestion/elimination, breathing, immune function and energy level.  Shiatsu therapists can also assist with a healthy emotional life, spiritual evolution and connection to authentic self.  Graduates are prepared to deliver benefits across this full spectrum of applications and perceive patterns of inter-relatedness of all these levels of human experience.


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