Options are almost always a good thing, and when it comes to enrolling in continuing education courses, massage therapists and bodyworkers have plenty of them. As the field of healing touch has grown, the industry of continuing education for practitioners of healing touch has expanded as well.

Whether earning continuing education credits is a requirement or a personal choice, you should have enough options available in order to find the course that is the best fit for your practice, schedule and goals. Of course, taking the time to figure out what the best fit means to you in all three of those areas—practice, schedule and goals—is one of the keys to having a satisfying experience with continuing education.

For starters, however, you must first consider what is required by the massage and bodywork governing board in your state or region, if there is one. In those areas where healing touch is regulated, there often are requirements regarding how many continuing education hours one must earn during each renewal period. In many cases, the type of continuing education one takes may be regulated as well, in terms of the topic, provider and so on.

Once you know whether you have any regulatory requirements, you can then take a closer look at the type of continuing education that will be best fit your practice, schedule and goals. Beginning with your practice, try asking yourself what types of skills or techniques would improve your practice as a whole.

For example, there may be a certain modality you’ve been wondering about on more than one occasion, perhaps when clients present with a certain condition or complaint you would like to know more about addressing. This could be something as specific as shoulder pain or limited range of motion in the hips. It also could be as general as the desire to learn deep-tissue work to combine with your Swedish massage skill.

In any of the above scenarios, you can see how these thoughts and feelings can help dictate the type of continuing education that might best suit your practice. Consider keeping a journal and jotting down times when you wish you knew more about a certain modality. Then, when it comes time to enroll in continuing education, you will have these notes to help steer your decision.

When it comes to your schedule, and your lifestyle in general, this should also play a large role in the kind of continuing education class you take. If you are incredibly busy, between clients, family life and social obligations, you may want to consider signing up for a continuing education class that takes place online, through a distance learning program. This way, you will be able to “attend” class, complete homework and take exams, all at your own pace and on your own schedule—from a home or office computer.

However, you may know your learning style well enough to know you do better when you take a course in person, especially if the topic is a new kind of hands-on technique. If this is the case, then be sure to find a class that happens on site and in person, preferably at a location that’s convenient for you.

Brandi Schlossberg