Faculty Spotlight: Denise Radcliffe, Dean of Massage Therapy

Published on October 26, 2017 by arothstein




Denise Radcliffe’s fascination with human anatomy first led her to study physical education then, later, to holistic healing. Today, she brings nearly three decades of teaching experience and industry knowledge to her role as dean of massage therapy for Broadview University.

“I’ve always had a passion for teaching,” she said, adding that her first experience in front of the classroom was with students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“I was always adamant that I was not just a gym teacher; I wanted to up the game,” she said. Denise explained that physical education class, especially for the younger kids, is more than playing sports. Instead, P.E. is about developing motor skills, coordination, and muscular endurance; about choosing good foods to eat; and about looking down the road—not just at the current moment.

Denise adds she saw physical education as more of a lifestyle, and that her role as a teacher helped others feel better. Her views on what “gym class” should be perhaps also informed her broader perspective on massage therapy.

About 25 years ago, Denise was part of a bicycling group. One of her fellow members was a massage therapist, and his career path intrigued her.  She had always been interested in how the human body worked, but never wanted to go the “western medicine route.”

“[Massage therapy] is healing, it’s helping, and it’s really holistic,” she said, adding that since entering the field, she’s mostly practiced in the medical or sports rehabilitation settings. For example, she’s worked with patients recovering from accidents or receiving chemotherapy.

Over the past few decades, she’s seen the field of massage therapy gain more credibility among traditional medical professionals and society as a whole. She says it’s more widely accepted “as a positive, professional healing art.”

“People are looking for holistic and alternative ways to feel better, to take power over their own destiny with their health,” she said.

With this, career opportunities for massage therapists have grown, and now Denise is using her expertise to prepare new professionals. As dean, she works with Broadview faculty members on curriculum and instructional development.

Denise she wants her teaching to have a positive impact on students’ technique, adding that massage therapy education is more than learning rote skills. “It’s about knowing what tissue feels like; it’s about listening to clients and clients’ bodies.”

For example, a client may not be able to verbalize what’s bothering them, but a good massage therapist will be able to read their bodies to find out. Those are the hands-on skills she hopes students come away with.

Denise is also experienced in aromatherapy, a practice that complements massage well. Her favorite scent?

“Ooh, I’m really fond of rosewood and cedarwood,” she said. “I’m a natural, woodsy, outdoors person.”

It’s true. Outside of holistic healing and education, Denise loves remaining active in nature.  

“My happy place is in the woods, trail running with my dog,” she said.

That her pup is a rescued pit bull is perhaps no surprise for someone who chose to dedicate her life to a healing and helping profession.

“Part of my giving back is letting my light shine,” she said. “I want to enjoy life, enjoy what I’m doing.”


If you’re inspired by Denise Denise’s career in massage therapy, consider learning more about this healing profession. Broadview University offers several programs, including an associate’s in applied science in massage therapy.

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