Continuing education for massage therapy should be viewed a mandatory consideration if you want to remain well-paid and recognized in the profession of Certified Massage Therapy and Bodywork.
This need arises from two reasons; the need to create an atmosphere of continuous best practice standards within each modality and to further your own career within the field.
The need for continuing education is discussed below in more detail with emphasis given on how this pursuit of continuous education can be obtained, its benefits as well as the detriments of not continuing your education in your profession.
The Need for Continuing Education
As in any profession the need to continually update your knowledge base is rooted in the old axiom that ‘knowledge is power’. Within the massage therapy profession there are several recognized modalities, i.e.: different types of massage.
Furthermore most States have formalized the need for continuing education as a requirement for licensing. It is not given that all therapists are aware of all these requirements, as they differ from state to state while some states don’t have such requirements. In addition, many practitioners are not certified and are simply licensed therapists. Read the difference here.
Nonetheless, learning various other massage types besides the traditional Swedish massage allows you to open many other doors in your career. It also helps increase your client base, maintaining a high repeat client ratio, raising your income level and combining your modalities for the ultimate benefit of your clients.
Reasons to Specialize
- Increased Knowledge – increased overall knowledge will enhance your community profile as an ‘expert’ in the modalities that you chose.
- Better Understanding – through learning more modalities you will understand the reasons behind client preferences for different types of massage and how and why each modality might benefit or harm your client.
- Increased Skill – by increasing your knowledge across multiple specialties you will increase your overall massaging skills allowing better performance and more satisfied clients.
- Increased Income – as different specialties are favored by clients over time, you will be better able to deliver on these desires to increase income and client retention.
- Enhanced Resume – whether you are a lone practitioner or an employee more specializations will help ensure your longevity in the profession.
How to Choose Your Continuing Education
How do you go about choosing your continuing education for massage therapy? Since there are over 80 modalities to choose from in your pursuit for diversification and continuous education, this can be an overwhelming task for any new massage practitioner.
Part of this process starts as soon as you start your formalized training in most massage therapy schools. You will start to learn about the modalities and at this point find your own passion and interest in these modalities.
Beyond the basic understanding you will receive from your program, you will need to complete some of your own research into the methods and specialization of your choice.
- A general Google search on the keyword of the massage type will give a good background, for example, Shiatsu.
- Refine the search for blogs or articles on the specific massage type for a better understanding of its benefits.
- Find out if there is a teacher of the massage technique within reach and check their qualifications.
- Watch YouTube videos on the modality to see how it is applied and if it would fit in with your own understanding of how you practice massage therapy.
- Talk to others that have specialized in the modality to find out its benefits and disadvantages.
- Make sure the modality is officially recognized by the American Massage Therapy Association.
- Consider its overall societal acceptance. A modality that no one has ever heard of before will likely not be requested by clients – you can always make your own up of course 🙂
Which Massage Modalities to Choose?
One of the hardest choices for you will be which massage type and how many should you pursue. Frankly this is an ongoing process, at least that’s the way you should treat it if you are committed to personal and professional growth in your industry.
As you are required to take education credits annually or biannually, you can focus on a new modality every year. However you will want to take a modality in the early part of your career that will most benefit the advancement and growth of your client base.
The most popular choices for modalities include:
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Myofascial release
- Reiki (my favorite)
- Cranio-Sacral body work
- Thai Massage
- Sports Massage
Although these maybe the most popular choices of specialization, you will need to assess your own practice, credit requirements and decide what will best suit your client base.
Another consideration will be whether your massage liability insurance will cover your chosen modalities, and their costs to insure you.
Costs of Continuing Education
The costs for continuing education credits vary greatly between state to state, and between the educational providers you choose. There are, however, certain aspects to consider:
- Ensure that the courses taken are in fact supported as part of your CE credit requirements.
- Compare costs between modalities as they can vary greatly, from school to school, and teacher to teacher.
- Compare the long-term insurance costs of each massage type.
It is very important to complete your CE credits as needed and report them to proper authorities. Generally, this is required at the state level. Your state’s requirements for CE credits, approved schools within that state; links to the state’s own governing body and deadline requirements can be easily found online.
Continuing education for massage therapy is a requirement in most states. However, even those states that do not require continuing education or are not regulated value continuing education to its benefits.
If you ever move to a different state that requires such a requirement you will be playing catch up and may find yourself unemployable. In any profession the need for continual education is obvious, even if it’s only to stay competitive and keep your own standards in line with those of your peers.
You can satisfy ongoing education requirements relatively easily as classes are offered by various massage therapy schools everywhere. There are also a very limited number of online classes you can look at, but the best are definitely the hands on classes.
In massage therapy, your choice of modalities within the continuing educational process can vary and have a dramatic effect on both your clients and your income. Thus, choose and apply them carefully.
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