The NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork) annually licenses many individuals as massage therapists in the United States, while many others leave the industry to pursue other ventures. As the market for therapeutic massage continues to grow, practicing therapists should seek to differentiate themselves from other professionals by taking advanced massage therapy specialist certification programs. Many bodyworkers content themselves with working with the techniques and strategies that they were taught in their primary massage education. These approaches may be very effective and successful, but primary massage education is general in nature and does not necessarily cover any aspect of massage exhaustively. The serious practitioner and student has a lot to consider when deciding where to go next with their education. It is important to make an honest evaluation of strengths and weaknesses as a therapist to decide where to invest time in continuing education.
In practice it is common for therapists to begin settling into a niche and start seeing many similar cases. If this is the situation, your clientele base is already built up enough to make specialization worth it. Clients who have been regularly coming in will be especially pleased when you begin working with them in new ways because you specifically took time to learn more about how to help them. It is also especially rewarding as a therapist to see clients with greater understanding and address each case with more confidence.
Conversely, a therapist could feel as though there is an educational gap that affects their therapeutic outcomes. Without enough knowledge to address the underlying conditions, they continue to work with the same symptoms each session without ever making any real progress. Instead of continuing to waste time and effort working without a plan, taking a specialist CEU program will create organization in your work where there may not have been much before.
Gaining a certification as a specialist lets your clients know that you are an expert and that you are recognized by other experts. The great majority of other therapists available for your potential clients will have no additional certifications and no training outside of the relaxation model education they received in massage school. This is apparent in their work as each cookie-cutter session with each client looks the same and is delivered without a case-specific plan. This is often fine within a relaxation model of massage, but it does not stand out on paper or otherwise. If each session is beginning to feel the same, it is time to break out of the mold and learn something new.
After honestly evaluating where you are as a therapist, begin looking into expanding your knowledge in areas that you think are key. Becoming a pain management specialist of any kind is a great first step to setting yourself apart from the crowd. The Freedom From Pain Institute has several courses that are geared to working practitioners looking to improve their assessment and treatment skills. Therapists working entirely within the relaxation model can find an easy transition with the Posture and Pain Specialist Certification while therapists already working in pain management will find great perspectives, strategies, and techniques in the thorough Upper Body Specialist and Lower Body Specialist certifications. These comprehensive home study certification programs will greatly expand your skill set and also strongly distinguish you in the market.