The profound impact of David Slawson’s first massage still reverberates with him today. He was 28 and attending a prenatal workshop with his wife at the time. “It was a mind-body connecting experience,” he explains. “I became acutely aware of my whole beingness, from simply experiencing muscle and deep-tissue manipulation by the therapist. It was as if I had been only mentally living my life. The calm, restful state brought on by the massage relaxed my breathing, and I experienced a unity of consciousness. My life was forever changed.”
After receiving his own massage therapy license, Slawson quickly built a thriving massage business and opened one of the first natural wellness centers in the city, encompassing three connected Victorian homes in Northeast Portland, which is still in operation by other owners today. Their holistic approach encompassed massage therapy, counseling, Rolfing, rebirthing, hydrotherapy, naturopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, holistic dentistry, and other wellness services. There, he also founded East West College of the Healing Arts.
“Over 45 years later, East West College has gone from a single basement classroom to a 32,000-square-foot campus in downtown Portland, with 50 staff and faculty, graduating an average of around 200 students a year,” Slawson says. Students learn everything from human anatomy and physiology to kinesiology, as well as massage business and marketing for those who want to start their own practice.
The one-year program (15 months part-time) is as rigorous as it is comprehensive, but it ultimately unlocks the powerful healing capability of human touch—and a fulfilling career, on graduates’ own terms. Explains Slawson, “Our students take pride in the achievement of having done well in school, becoming a licensed massage therapist, and joining a community of other caregivers with a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.”
East West College of the Healing Arts
1515 SW Fifth Ave, Fourth Floor
Portland, OR 97201