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Selecting Massage Therapy Continuing Education Classes

Selecting Massage Therapy Continuing Education Classes
By: Ariana Vincent, Ariana Institute, Austin, Texas

There are many wonderful opportunities in the massage community designed to deepen your educational experience by participating in a classroom environment utilizing kinesthetic hands-on techniques or by participating in interesting and informative online massage therapy CE courses.

Researching CE Requirements

To begin your research, visit to obtain a list of state boards and CE requirements. This list is current as of November 20, 2007, so check with your individual state board to verify current requirements.

Here are examples of continuing education requirements:

• Texas DSHS: The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Massage Therapy Division requires 12 CE hours every two year cycle.
• NCBTMB: The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) requires 48 CE hours every 4 year recertification cycle.
• AMTA: The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Board Recertification Requirements require 48 CE hours every 4 years
• ABMP: The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals Recertification Requirements include 16 CE hours every two years or every other annual renewal

Rules and regulations may vary by the city, state, county, region and may be subject to change. Each practitioner should assume responsibility for contacting the applicable massage therapy state licensing agency, NCBTMB, AMTA and/or ABMP to confirm that the online CE credit courses you are considering are acceptable for credit.

Consider Which Courses Could be the Most Valuable to You and Your Clients

If you are interested in working at a spa, contact several spas in your area and determine which CE courses would be best for you. Basic spas typically require good Swedish relaxation skills, deep tissue, sports, prenatal and hot stone. They may also require a good working knowledge of wraps and scrubs. Spas at the other end of the spectrum, for example The Crossings Wellness Spa in Austin, offer a wide assortment of services including Myofascial Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, ShiroDhara, and Thai Massage.

A private practitioner may benefit more from participating in advanced CE courses that would carve out an area of specialization unique to that therapist’s vision of his or her successful practice. For example, if you live in an area where equine massage is popular and viable, then a good equine massage course may be just the ticket. If you enjoy working with prenatal clients, then focus on prenatal massage CE classes. A good Practice Building and Marketing CE course would be a valuable asset.

Determine whether or not you are at the stage in your career where you want to participate in classes that are easier on your body than more rigorous therapies. If this is the case, then you might consider focusing on classes such as Reiki, CranioSacral Therapy, Reflexology, Acupressure and Facial Massage.

CE Class Location

We are so fortunate that many awesome CE classes are offered nationally and internationally. Research classes that are offered in locations that are appealing to you or where you have family and friends you can visit. You could participate in classes in Austin, San Francisco, Sedona, Costa Rica, or Leicestershire, England.

Online CE Classes

First check with your state board and with NCBTMB, if applicable, to verify that online courses are accepted. Online courses that are acceptable in Texas, for example, must be cognitive in nature, and do not include the clinical application of theory pertaining to the practice of massage therapy or the manipulation of soft tissue. Some topics that may be of interest to you as online courses include Ethics, Practice Building, Pain Management, and Self Care.

Research the CE Provider

Take some time to check the credentials of the CE Provider to verify that the provider is qualified to offer the CE courses you are interesting in taking and to ensure that the provider has up-to-date licenses and/or certifications. Read the CE Provider’s website carefully and check references. Look for details on the website related to the course content; tuition; registration and payment process; class size; date, time and location of the courses; cancellation and refund policies; date of issuance of your CE certificate; whether or not you will have to bring your own table; number of students participating and CE provider contact information.

Enjoy the Process

If you like experiential hands-on classes where you’ll have an opportunity to exchange sessions with colleagues, check with your provider in advance to verify the ratio of hands-on practice to cognitive experiences. If you prefer a more cognitive class, ensure that is available to you before you register. If your preference is for classes of fewer than 300 participants, be sure and ask up front how many students will be accepted in the class.

View your CE classes in a positive light as wonderful opportunities to learn, grow and network with like-minded therapists with whom you can build a sense of community and have fun in the process.

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