My Views on Continuing Education for Massage Therapists

by: Boris Prilutsky

Even with the best intentions in mind and best efforts of school personnel, many massage therapy schools cannot teach graduates the full scope of practice.

  1. Massage schools program have time limitations standing in the way of teaching students the full scope of practice, including advanced programs.
  2. Many massage schools do not have enough faculty members who possess profound knowledge and clinical experience to teach more than 70 disciplines that the full scope of practice contains.
  3. In order to develop professional skills and to prepare for advanced training, prior to attending advanced classes, practitioners should acquire some clinical experience by providing at least 100 hands-on therapy procedures on real clients in a professional setting.

Continuing education programs, most likely, are the more appropriate way for continued progress in professional skills development.

Is there a massage therapy discipline that is superior to other ones?

There is a notion that one who knows how to perform orthopedic massage for painful back and limb disorders is a more advanced professional than the one who provides full body stress management massage. Is this really true? People in the modern society are susceptible to stress. Are those who have made their careers providing full-body stress management massage less qualified professionals? I think not.

Stress-related illnesses include heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, clinical depression, tension headaches, sleep disorders and more. It should be noted that the American economy loses $350 billion annually due to stress-related illnesses. According to many surveys and statistical data 90% of doctor visits are related to the above-mentioned disorders.

Full-body stress management massage is scientifically and clinically proven as a most powerful method from all the available healthcare modalities for managing stress. Surely, those suffering from back pain have a disrupted quality of life. Yet, people are not dying from back or joint pain while as people die from stress-related heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Why then are therapists who perform full-body stress management massage are lesser professionals?

A person, who knows how to perform stress management massage with a great clinical output, is practicing a very advanced modality. In short, both of these disciplines are equally important.

Why continued education program is advanced training?

Prior to approving a continued education provider NCBTMB and other massage boards check to see if a prospective instructor has enough clinical experience as well as extended body of knowledge to teach “advance” knowledge to others practitioners.

One cannot teach continued education, i.e. teach already professional people, if one has insufficient clinical experience. When teaching a CE class, instructors should not just share the knowledge that is taken from books or scientific references only. Books contain knowledge that professionals can obtain themselves by reading. Instructors share hands-on details that will allow program participants to apply them on clients and obtain results. That’s what advance training is; not the presented discipline itself, but the training by an experienced clinician.

Massage therapy is about delivering results.

Any professional participating in CE programs must acquire knowledge and hands-on skill to deliver results. Certainly, an instructor must have qualifications and motivation to deliver information and hands-on training in an understandable manner so that students can acquire the material. But participants also have to demonstrate high level of professional consciousness, discipline and motivation. Teaching many continued education courses, I often witnessed professional ego of participants standing in the way of their learning. The worst damage to learning is done when a participant arrives to be trained with the following mind set: ”I already know it all and just need a CE certificate.” In order for participants to learn more they have to give instructors a chance to share their knowledge. No matter how much you know there is always a room for improvement. I have been in practice for over 40 years and am still finding room for improvement my hands-on performance and other aspects of professional activity.

Do home CE programs provide adequate training?

People of my generation, in the beginning of their career, had no luxury of studying from educational videos, but only from books and by means of classroom hands-on training. Today, because of technological advancements, people have the opportunity to learn from instructional medical massage educational videos. For those who are looking to advance in our field, instructional video materials present invaluable advantages in improving your professional skills. Many people learn material better at their own pace in their home environment with no time limitation. This has a lot to do with fatigue that you can experience in the classroom situation. After a while your attention slips away and your mind starts drifting. At home you can avoid these detrimental factors – just press the button, start the lesson and learn as long as you feel alert.

Often instructors don’t feel the difference between newly introduced complex concept and trite self-explanatory facts, and go over material of uneven difficulties at the same pace. There is also a high chance that the other members of the class could be more advanced than you are and would already know material that is being presented. In such a case you might be hesitant to ask multiple questions and appear “slow” or simply feel uneasy about the fact that you are taking too much time from the rest of the class. Often these circumstances lead to gaps in knowledge, which will detrimentally affect the learning processes. Having educational materials on medical massage educational videos also allows you to review the material as many times as necessary, without being subjected to a humiliating question “Did you understand?”

Repeating techniques after instructor and studying his movements, including frequency of these movements, are very important components in reaching positive results. By viewing a medical massage educational video numerous times you are not only learning how to perform techniques and concepts underlying a particular protocol, but also, and not less importantly, is learning to reproduce the movements that instructors have developed during many years of practiMy views on continuing education for massage therapistsce. Our brain functions in a way that by viewing the same images over and over, it allows us to copy these movements.

There are no doubts that live seminars are advantageous as well. They allow you to interact with others participants, to work under supervision and to receive treatments at the time of training. This is also a great way to learn. Learning from medical massage educational videos and attending live seminars on the same subject is a great educational combination.

How much should continuing education programs cost?

As massage therapists we are in business and financial gain is a part of a business. The more you are able to deliver results the more successful financial gain your occupation will bring. Massage therapy is about results, and success in our career depends on our ability to deliver these results. Consequently, continued education programs have to be geared toward your ability to deliver results. For example: regardless of whether you took CE course for tension headaches, stress management, lower back or legs disorders, shoulders or sports massage training, a person who spent $150 for particular continued education program, upon completion of this program, should be able to apply newly learned methods and during two or three treatments reimburse CEs investment. Business is business.

To me CEU pricing is defined by the following motto: ”Massage therapy is about results. Success in your career depends on your ability to deliver results, and continued education programs have to improve your ability to deliver results, as well as to increase your financial gain.”

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