NHITA Home Page


The History of NHITA

NHITA was founded in 1983 by Robert Berube, MEd, DSc, DC and Patrick Ian Cowan, PhD. The institute has its roots in the Merrimack Valley Integral Health Center, in Hudson NH, where the founders recognized the need for thorough and professional training in massage therapy. The clinical experience of the health care facility figured prominently in the content and philosophy of the school's massage therapy training program, which emphasizes natural approaches to health care.

As an independently functioning educational facility the school was recognized by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) in 1983. In 1992 the school was recognized by American Massage Therapy Association Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (AMTA/COMTA), and in 1999 was fully accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). Please read more about accreditation on our accreditation page. In 2003 the school was recognized and approved for Department of Education Title IV funding, which allows the institute to offer financial aid to students who qualify.

The Hudson, NH facility has remained in continuous operation since 1983 and the Bridgton, Maine campus was opened in 1994. The Institute continued under the direction of Dr. Berube and Dr. Cowan until 1998 with the passing of Dr. Berube. In 1999 the school restructured its administration and educational directorship under the guidance of Dr. Cowan, Janet Alexis and Karen Schilling. Today the school functions under the Executive Directorship of Patrick Cowan and the Directorship of Carol Peterson.

NHITA's Mission Statement

The mission of New Hampshire Institute for Therapeutic Arts is to provide professional preparation in Massage Therapy. Our primary academic objective is to teach Massage Therapy within the overall context of Natural Therapeutics, thereby to produce graduates who are health professionals in every sense. Along with and beyond knowledge of anatomy and physiology, we provide training and education in applications of specific methods, indications and contraindications for various techniques, therapeutic sensitivity, client relations, recognition of adjunctive therapies, and basic business and ethical skills in managing a practice. Our training emphasizes Massage Therapy as an ideal preventive and curative method within the framework and experience of a health center and as such support with the wellness model of health care.

Administrative Bios

Patrick Ian Cowan, PhD
Executive Director

Dr. Cowan whole heartedly believes in an inclusive, compassionate and ethical approach to education for all. His background in administration, health care and education affords the school an individual able to oversee student affairs, faculty coordination and curriculum development to communication with the school's regulatory, accreditation and licensing agencies. He has over thirty years experience in disciplines related to natural therapeutics.

Carol Peterson, BA, MSA, LCMT

Before entering the field of massage therapy, Carol Peterson spent 21 years in the technology industry. As a graduate of the NHITA, she brings a blend of massage therapy with a business background to the daily operations of the school. Carol is a licensed massage therapist in the states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Carol has been part of the NHITA for community in an administrative and instructional capacity for numerous years. She participates in strategic planning for the institute as well as overseeing day-to-day operations of the Nashua campus, with an emphasis on student affairs and faculty coordination. Also see faculty page.

Karen D. Schilling, MS, RD, LMT
Associate Director

Karen Schilling has been the Associate Director of the school since 1999 and has since been instrumental in curriculum development, policy and procedure and strategic planning. Ms. Schilling brings a business perspective to the school from her past career as a CPA. She has a passion for natural therapeutics and strives to keep NHITA on the cutting edge of massage therapy education by continually observing new trends, networking, and involvement in the massage therapy community. Also see faculty page.

Gretchen Loeffler, BS, LMT
Administrative Assistant

Gretchen's administrative experience ranges from restaurant management to public relations director for a non-profit arts council to founding member and active leader in numerous outing clubs. As a graduate of NHITA herself, Gretchen understands the working of the school from a student perspective as well as an administrative point of view. In her welcoming and warm manner she functions as a student liaison along with taking care of many of the other grassroots functions of the school, such as communication and record keeping at the Bridgton campus. Also see faculty page.