Swedish Institute was founded in 1916 as the Swedish Institute of Physiotherapy and is the oldest continuously operating massage therapy institution in the country. The founder of the school, Theodore Melander, had a vision of massage therapy as an aspect of a holistic approach to wellness generally and he developed a unique curriculum that included medical gymnastics, dietetics, exercise techniques and physiotherapy. Graduates of the program received a diploma in Physiotherapy and practiced in hospitals, clinics and in private practice as Physiotherapists.
In 1954, Lillian Phillips, then director and owner, focused the curriculum exclusively on massage therapy, which was increasingly becoming a recognized profession. At that time the title “massage therapist” was unheard of and graduates were known as masseuse and masseur. The City of New York required the masseuse/masseur to register and they were granted a city license to practice. Ultimately, licensure and curriculum regulations were incorporated into the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions. In 1998, the Institute was awarded authorization to grant an Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) degree to graduates of the Massage Therapy program.
In 1996, the Institute moved deeper into the world of holistic and integrative medicine by opening an Acupuncture program with a focus on Classical Chinese Medicine. In 2003, the Institute received approval from the State Education Department to award the Master of Science Degree (MS) in this field. The Acupuncture Program has since been integrated into the curriculum of Swedish Institute’s sister school, the New York City campus of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.
The past 15 years have seen the Institute grow from a well-known school of Massage Therapy offering a 692 clock-hour certificate program into a multi-purpose institution with authority from the New York State Education Department to grant degrees at the associate, baccalaureate and master’s levels. The college continues to offer its long-standing program in Massage Therapy and has since added degree programs in Advanced Personal Training, Clinical and Administrative Medical Assistant, Surgical Technologist, and Nursing. In addition, the college now offers certificate programs in Personal Training and Medical Billing and Coding.