You’ve most likely heard it before: Many of the most successful people are those who found a niche. In the world of massage and bodywork, this statement holds true. It is never a bad idea to have a specialty, an area of expertise, that sets you apart and draws a specific portion of the population to your practice.

Many massage schools offer a fairly general course of study, giving their students a foundation of skills necessary to make a first foray into the field of bodywork. Only after a period of time spent working hands-on as a massage therapist do most practitioners in the field begin to get a feel for a niche that may suit them.

It’s at this point, with an idea of what areas of massage and bodywork are particularly appealing, that touch practitioners can use continuing education to build their skills in a specific niche.

Continuing education is often required of those massage therapists and bodyworkers who live in a state or region that regulates the practice of massage. For these practitioners, a set number of continuing-education units must be earned each time their license is up for renewal.

If you live in a state or region where massage is regulated, your first step will be to found out if the regulating board has any specification for what type of continuing education you must take.

Once you’ve gathered these necessary details, you can search for continuing education that will help you get a handle on the niche you want to cover. For example, if your work as a massage therapists or bodyworker has revealed you have a special connection with elderly clients, and you enjoy this work to the fullest, you may want to consider taking continuing education classes that cover the ins and outs of geriatric massage.

Another scenario might be the massage therapist who adores working with the most athletic portion of her client list. If this describes you, think about enrolling in courses that focus on sports massage, and how to work with people who are very physically active.

At the other end of the spectrum, you may feel a calling to work patients who are sick. For those massage therapists and bodyworkers who find this type of work especially rewarding, there are all kinds of courses based around massage for certain medical conditions, as well as hospital-based massage.

You may take classes to build a niche in the area of massage for cancer patients, for example, or massage for military veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Providing massage for hospice patients is yet another way you could go with the help of continuing education.

There are many niches in the broad field of bodywork in massage. As you go about your daily practice, take note of which clients and what type of issues truly ignite your passion for hands-on healing.

When it comes time to sign up for continuing education, look for classes that will help you hone that passion into a rewarding area of expertise.

—Brandi Schlossberg

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