With the economy in a slump, people in the massage therapy and bodywork fields may be worried, as hands-on healing often is viewed as a luxury rather than a necessity, especially outside the medical realm.

Along with facials, manicures and meals out, massage may be one of the enjoyable experiences that gets cut from the budget of many Americans. As a practitioner, however, you are fully aware of just how important receiving regular bodywork may be—for stress levels, circulation, blood pressure, common aches and pains, and a number of other issues that may deeply affect one’s quality of life.

It’s time to reiterate that message to the masses, and get the word out that massage may be far more than a luxury. Let your community know massage therapy may be one of the staples that helps individuals hold steady and reduce stress during tumultuous times.

Before you begin shouting your message about massage from every rooftop in town, it’s important to brush up on your business, networking and marketing skills. The business side of running a massage practice too often is neglected in favor of the more enjoyable work of hands-on healing, which seems to come naturally to so many practitioners. Now more than ever, it’s key to get business savvy about massage.

Fortunately, most massage therapists have a regular route toward continuing education in all aspects of the field, marketing included. In areas where massage is regulated, practitioners usually have to earn a set amount of continuing education credits each time they renew their massage license or certificate.

A wonderful way to approach brushing up on your business, networking and marketing skills is to enroll in continuing education courses that address these topics. Not only will you be building skills to better your practice, but you’ll also be earning the continuing education credits necessary to maintain your credential.

As you seek out continuing education that focuses on the business side of bodywork, make sure the course you want to enroll in is accepted by the board or other governing body that regulates massage in your area. If possible, you may also want to do a little research and ask around about the teacher and class.

One topic of continuing education that should be especially helpful during the economic downturn is marketing. Classes focused on marketing your business should provide massage therapists with plenty of ideas for getting the word out about the benefits of bodywork. From free seminars at clinics and hospitals to setting up a chair at the local grocery store or health festivals, there are so many ways to reach out in your community and bring more clients through your door.

A high-quality marketing course may even provide you with material for future use, such as brochures on the benefits of massage, slides to use during seminars or presentations, and more.

Don’t resign yourself to the economic slump. Start investigating continuing education classes that will help you gain new clients and maintain your massage license.

—Brandi Schlossberg