Whether you’re signing up to take a continuing education class in order to renew your license or just because you want to, there is a good chance you will get much more than a few class credits. Continuing education courses offer massage therapists and bodyworkers a long list of benefits, from learning new techniques to bolster existing skill sets to networking with classmates and colleagues.

Similar to a client going in for complementary care, how much you end up getting out of a continuing education class often can depend on how much you are open to receiving. The attitude you take into the classroom can have a major impact on the results. For example, if you happen to be a massage therapist or bodyworker who lives in a state or region where the field of touch therapy is regulated, and you are enrolling in continuing education only because you have to, you are at risk of missing out on the big benefits of extended learning.

The fact is, you are going to need to take the class no matter how you feel about it, so it is best to go in with an open mind and a positive attitude. With this shift in perception, you should have a much better chance of walking away from the class with more than a few continuing education credits.

With the right mindset, a continuing education course can be an exciting and interesting journey. This is particularly true if you are able to enroll in a class that truly intrigues you and resonates with your own personality and daily practice. Take the time to think about what kind of continuing education classes you could get excited about, and then search for those topics when you’re ready to enroll.

Once you’re settled into your decision about an upcoming continuing education class, you can open yourself up to levels of learning beyond the course material. Make an effort to get to know your classmates—after all, these are your peers and colleagues in the world of massage therapy and bodywork.

In a field such as this one, where so much of the work is done one-on-one with clients in quiet sessions rooms, the opportunity to network can sometimes be difficult to find. Continuing education classes are great places to make a few friends in the field, with whom to share successes and challenges, tips and ideas.

These newfound friends also can serve as the perfect “trading” partners for self-care, which is a notion often surprisingly ignored by the massage therapists and clients who offer so much hands-on care to their own clients.

Consider setting up a system for trading sessions with those classmates you admire, and in the process of caring for your own body, you could be getting an informal continuing education by picking up new ideas and techniques that could be integrated in your practice.

As you can see, enrolling in continuing education courses tends to be a wonderful move for massage therapists and bodyworkers, even if it is not a requirement for earning or maintaining one’s credential.

–Brandi Schlossberg