For most fields of study, it is obvious that continuing education is not only important, but is a necessity.
Techniques are constantly evolving to become more effective and efficient and ideologies are always changing and progressing. Not to mention the constant influx of new information, facts, problems, and solutions we gain from ongoing research that changes the way we see our jobs and the requirements asked of us, and the technological breakthroughs that change the ways we carry out our jobs all together.
If this is true, and expected, for professions such as accounting, nursing, or teaching, then why would it not be true for massage therapy?
The importance of continuing education for massage therapists is often under-credited.
Those who aren’t trained in massage therapy often view massages simply as a feel-good way to relax at the end of a stressful week, or something to indulge in while on a beach vacation – but there is more to the discipline than that. Those who are part of the profession * should * understand that, and subsequently, the importance of not only being open to continuous learning but striving for it.
To answer your question of how important continuing education is for massage therapists – it is very important. Keep reading below to find out why.
Why Continuing Education is Important For Massage Therapists
Massage therapy may not be a perfectly established or understood practice, but it is a complex one. It involves spirituality and science working together in a blend of knowledge and creative understanding that requires carefully executed techniques and processes. Of course one of the most important aspects of evolving and improving your practice, as a massage therapist, is experience – but experience will not teach you everything.
Experience is imperative to your practice – being able to find your style, hone in on your technique, learning how to approach different real-life situations, and build relationships with your clients – but these aspects of your practice also rely on an educational foundation.
This foundation is created during your initial certification courses and training – you learn the history, the ideologies, and, of course, the technical aspects surrounding your chosen focus – but it does not end there.
However, while continuing education is ideal for all massage therapists, the degree of importance for such does have some dependency on the “track” of massage therapy that you are practicing. In the broadest terms, there are two tracks: personal care service and healthcare modality.
Personal Care Service vs. Healthcare Modality
As we’ve said before, continuing education is important for you, as a massage therapist, no matter which path you have chosen. However, certain fields of massage therapy do require continuing education more seriously than others.
In terms of personal care service, continuing education is more or less an additional benefit – you can enhance your technique and skills in a way that will benefit your practice and your clients. In terms of healthcare modality, it is a matter of necessity – the health and safety of your clients, in this track, demands continuing education.
Personal Care Service
This “genre” shall we say, of massage therapy holds a focus on general relaxation and wellness enhancement. These massages are meant to be enjoyable, relaxing, and stress relieving, but are not used as specific treatments for any type of pain, injury, or illness.
Massages under this track are intended specifically to address and eliminate pain and treat injury in your clients. For this reason, continuing education is a must. A massage performed incorrectly or where not necessary brings with it the potential to harm or injure the client even further.
It’s A Requirement
While it would make sense that each of the previously mentioned tracks would have different requirements because of their extremely different natures that is not the case. Because there are no actual licensing differences to distinguish those in the personal care service track and those in the healthcare modality track, it would be impossible to dictate and enforce different educational requirements.
For this reason, continuing education is actually, by default, a requirement for all in the massage therapy profession.
This may seem a burden to those in the personal care service track who feel that they don’t need it, or those who simply feel that experience outweighs anything they could learn in a classroom, but it should not.
It’s imperative to understand the importance of continuing education for everyone.
Here are some examples of how continuing education is important to any practicing massage therapist. Continuing education:
- Fills in the gaps from your basic training – even the best licensing programs don’t prepare you perfectly for the complexity of clinic work, continuing education will make you more confident and competent when working with clients
- Protects the public – there are instances where the wrong type of massage in the wrong area can cause more harm than good, and the more education you have the better you will be able to avoid such situations
- Benefits your practice – the more additional training courses you take, the more opportunity you have to either diversify your practice more or master one specific field of massage therapy
- Sets you above the rest – clients will feel more confident with a therapist who has multiple credentials and shows their willingness and desire to continue their education to better themselves and their skills
The Answer Is Clear
As you can see, continuing education is invaluable in the benefits it will provide not only to you as a therapist and to your practice, but to your clients as well. It should be something you strive for as a professional.
Continuing education is not just about learning a few “new moves” – it’s about understanding and embracing your skills, utilizing and changing techniques to suit your clients needs, approaching new or challenging situations with the knowledge and confidence to make a difference, and about understanding and building on the relationships you have with your clients.