You have graduated from massage school, and you are now on a path of ongoing learning for the duration of your massage career.
Your state board will require massage CE ongoing education, and your clients benefit when you learn new skills related to technique, business and communication.
Lifelong learning, whether for personal or professional reasons, extends beyond the formal educational setting. Other learning environments, such as non-formal and informal settings, give you opportunities to gain new knowledge through various learning modalities.
It’s important to keep in mind that research in learning styles does not indicate that you learn better with one modality — visual, auditory, kinesthetic or tactile — over another; however, your learning style can speak to your motivation and confidence, which are two important factors that sustain lifelong learning behaviors.
Also, with advancements in massage CE educational technology, there are more opportunities for lifelong learning in the profession of massage therapy and bodywork.
Whether you approach lifelong learning, and earning your massage therapy continuing education, through completing an online certificate program, seated continuing education course, or seminar, consider which learning environment appeals to you the most. We’ll take a look at several learning environments here.
Specialty Certificate Programs
Specialty certificate programs enable you to extend your breadth and depth of knowledge within a specific field of massage and bodywork. There are several specialty certificate programs our profession offers.
Some of these programs include integrative health, oncology massage and military veteran massage. Information about many of these specialty certificate programs in our profession is centralized on the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork’s website.
Most of us are familiar with the formal classroom environment, whether it is a traditional seated or online format. Some adults thrive academically and emotionally in this setting. They enjoy the seated or online classroom community that has a curriculum with specific course objectives and student learning outcomes within the structure of an educational institution or organization.
College, Seated and Online Massage CE
What about extending your education with college courses that further your knowledge, skills and attitudes for a specific topic within massage therapy and bodywork?
One example is extending your breadth and depth of knowledge in the biological sciences of the human body. If you felt that your one course of anatomy and physiology within your massage therapy curriculum wasn’t enough, many community colleges and universities offer opportunities to register as non-degree seeking students so that you can take a few massage CE courses.
You might find that learning more about anatomy, physiology, immunology, pathology, cell biology or nutrition would help further your understanding of body systems. And, even online sites such as Coursera offer science and somatic-related content taught by university faculty.
Massage CE at Conferences
Professional organizations host conferences, retreats, summits and meetings. In a year, you have an opportunity to attend over a dozen formalized events within the U.S. Most of these venues hold workshops, seminars and breakout panel sessions to learn more about modalities and topics within the profession.
For many people, being around other professional peers in person while learning creates a wonderful sense of community, sharing knowledge and experiences within a social context.
If you are unable to attend a conference, you can still complete workshops, seminars and webinars to further advance your knowledge and skills of specific modalities and topics.
Several organizations, businesses and private individuals offer these different learning opportunities for continuing education credit as well. It’s good to know the differences between workshops and seminars so you don’t have unmet expectations.
A workshop is designed to be engaging within the context of the modality or topic. Personal attention and participation is important. Workshops are more student-centered rather than instructor-centered. The amount of time a workshop is held can vary from a few hours to days.
Workshops offer a safe space for participants to learn hands-on skills while receiving direct and immediate feedback. Like the conference setting, stand-alone workshops also create a wonderful sense of community, sharing knowledge and experiences within a social context.
A seminar is focused on one-way communication coming from the instructor or speaker and usually occurs in larger, in-person, participant settings.
Seminars can be formatted to include a series of talks or discussions around one modality or topic.
Seminars offer a wonderful opportunity for networking among the presenters and participants but often lack the student-centered learning opportunity.
A webinar is a virtual seminar. Audio and video can be shared between the instructor and participants but there is no formal in-person meeting. Webinars do happen synchronously though and become asynchronous if recorded and published.
The webinar offers a learning experience among participants with a diverse geographic location, but depending on the number of participants and instructor, interaction among everyone may be limited or none, which can decrease the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning.
Groups of people who share the professions of massage therapy or bodywork often hold in-person gatherings and social meetings through various outlets such as Meetup or chapter professional organizations. In these environments, there are scheduled guest speakers and discussions about specific modalities or professional ethics.
This type of massagae CE learning environment within smaller groups tends to be a fun, interactive way to engage with others to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. Imagine going to a social get-together with other massage and bodywork therapists and striking up a conversation with one of them about a modality they recently learned.
You weren’t familiar with this modality and asked them to demonstrate it for you. As they demonstrated it, you and the other therapists learned something new. You were able to take away a new skill. Your learning happened in a spontaneous moment, enabling you to experience it naturally. There was no conformity in relation to curriculum, setting or expectations.
Time to Learn
Sustaining a thirst for lifelong learning is a rewarding behavior. Some people choose learning experiences that occur in a formal, organized environment while others embrace learning as a by-product of the fun, non-committal, informal experience.
Either way, find an environment that will spark your interest—and have fun learning!
About the Author
Penny Shumaker Jeffrey, PhD, LMBT, conducts CE courses in nutrition, is a former vice-president and former board member for the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, and an assistant professor of science education at North Carolina State University.