The field of massage therapy and bodywork draws practitioners for myriad reasons. If you have been involved in this healing industry for any amount of time, there is a good chance you have observed a wide variety of people who are professional touch therapists.

One of the reasons there is such a broad spectrum of practitioners in the realm of massage therapy and bodywork is because the work itself is broad enough to encompass an enormous range of modalities.

For example, at one end of the spectrum you might find those who are practicing forms of energy work, such as Healing Touch and reiki. Moving along the line, you would see those people practicing relaxation massage. Going a bit further, there also is deep-tissue work and then structural integration, such as Rolfing and Hellerwork. As you begin to move more toward the other side of the spectrum, you might find touch therapists in practice within hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Certainly, this basic description does not encompass even a small percentage of the modalities and practitioners out there working within the field of massage therapy and bodywork. Also, depending on your personal perspective, you might order the different techniques in a whole different way along that spectrum, perhaps placing Healing Touch and reiki a whole lot closer to medical massage.

However, the point is there is plenty of room to move in the field of massage therapy and bodywork, and practitioners in this field can have more than one skill set to offer clients. A wonderful way to explore whether you would like to move to a different spot along the spectrum—or at least have the flexibility to do so as needed—is through continuing education.

For example, a person who has been practicing a massage modality that aims mainly for relaxation may decide he or she is ready to do deeper work and help address specific client complaints of ongoing aches and pains. This practitioner likely would benefit from signing up for a continuing education class on such a topic as sports massage, myofascial release or trigger-point therapy.

If the course goes well and truly intrigues the massage therapist, then he or she might then decide to sign up for the more advanced levels of continuing education on the topic, eventually becoming a master of this new modality.

The scenario might move in the other direction as well. For instance, a massage therapist who found himself or herself doing deep work most of the time may want to bring on board a technique that will allow a bit of a break for his or her body. This may come in the form of Healing Touch, craniosacral therapy or reiki—any one of the many touch techniques out there that require only the lightest of touches, or perhaps no touch at all.

Wherever you wish to go on the continuum of massage therapy and bodywork modalities, there is most likely a continuing education course to accommodate that move.

–Brandi Schlossberg