Whether you have just begun your career as a massage therapist or you’re a bodywork veteran, the direction you choose to take your practice could easily change. Perhaps your personal preferences vary as you grow older and gain experience as a bodyworker. Maybe you meet a new person or gain new information that alters your perspective on massage. Whatever the reason may be, it’s comforting to know that a career in massage therapy could be taken in an almost endless array of different directions.

Of course, changing your daily practice from one of purely relaxation massage, for instance, to massage for cancer patients, takes work. Fortunately, this work can be done in the form of continuing education, helping you to alter your career path and at the same time meet the requirements necessary to maintain your massage license.

For those bodyworkers who wish to move toward more medical or hospital-based forms of massage therapy, picking and choosing courses in continuing education based on this desired direction is a great way to go.

There are plenty of classes in continuing education that specifically address massage for medical or hospital patients, including massage for cancer patients. The increase in the number and quality of continuing-education courses on massage modalities for various medical patients is a direct result of an increase in demand for hands-on healing within the medical realm.

Acceptance of massage has grown by leaps and bounds, and so has an understanding of the efficacy of massage for various conditions and symptoms. Aside from lowering stress levels, also known as cortisol levels, many people, especially within the medical community, now understand the benefits of massage for alleviating anxiety, depression and other negative symptoms and side effects that may accompany disease.

A bodywork career that aims to help cancer patients could offer great rewards in terms of personal satisfaction and connection with others. If this is a path you are considering, then search out classes in continuing education that focus specifically on massage for cancer patients.

Such a course would likely offer an overview of cancer and the qualities of cancer cells in general, as well as the most common treatment methods for cancer. It should also address considerations and precautions regarding medical devices, positioning and pressure, as well as indications and contraindications for massage with respect to chemotherapy, radiation and surgery side effects. Typically, a basic class on massage for cancer patients would also involve the presentation and discussion of various case studies.

Once you have laid the foundation for a career change via classes in continuing education, you can start to increase the complexity of the courses you choose, learning about more specific topics as you go.

Of course, altering your practice as a massage therapist doesn’t have to mean changing it completely. Your choice in continuing-education courses could simply add another dimension to your career, another modality to your massage menu, or another part of the population to your client base. Such flexibility is one of the hallmarks—and major benefits—of being a massage therapist.