When it comes time to enroll in a continuing education course, whether to fill the requirements necessary to renew or maintain your massage license or simply because you’re seeking a new skill or refreshment, it pays to put thought into your decision.

Selecting a continuing education class should be based on your current goals and needs as a bodyworker and a business person. Of course, if you’re seeking continuing education to fulfill the requirements for the renewal of your massage credential, you will first want to figure out exactly what type of classes will be accepted by your state or local massage board.

To do this, visit the Web site for the governing body that regulates massage in your area, or call the board directly. What you will want to find out is whether this governing body only accepts certain instructors or types of classes, and exactly how many hours you will need to maintain your credential.

Once you’ve secured this basic information, you can go about choosing a continuing education course that suits your personal needs. This means taking a good look at your current practice, as well as checking in with yourself about how satisfied you are with your massage career.

For example, if your main strength is Swedish massage for relaxation, that is likely the form of bodywork you are practicing on the majority of your clients. However, you might begin to realize you’d like a more niche skill to offer people who walk through your door, especially if there is a common need you’ve noticed among clients.

If you are seeing a lot of people who are highly athletic, you may wish to enroll in a continuing education class that teaches the skills of sports massage, so you can properly address such issues as tennis elbow, shoulder dysfunction or tight hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.

If clients are presenting with chronic pain, perhaps you might look into enrolling in a continuing education course that teaches such a technique as myofascial release.

You should also consider your own needs in addition to the needs of your clients, as you begin the process of selecting continuing education classes. For instance, if you are feeling the strain of standing on your feet and practicing intensive bodywork all day long, you might consider learning a form of hands-on healing that is less physically taxing, such as craniosacral therapy.

Other common goals for massage therapists include sharpening the skills necessary to run a business, such as marketing and accounting. If this is the case for you, then look for continuing education courses that instruct students on the ins and outs of running a successful massage practice.

Then again, if you simply want a few new skills to spice up your massage menu, then that will alter the direction you seek with continuing education. Great “add-ons” to a regular massage menu include reflexology, aromatherapy, reiki and other such techniques. Be sure your state or local massage board approves these courses before you enroll.

—Brandi Schlossberg

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